Ok, I got a little overwhelmed. I’ve been avoiding you.
So this week, I am back with a few thoughts on motivation & getting yourself going. Think of it as helping me help you help me. Help you. Give one a try, see if it leads to a better day, or even a little forward momentum on that thing you wish you were doing but keep not doing.
And look for another note soon about “office hours,” for anyone in your lives who could use some 1:1 career brainstorming & forward-movement support! -Liz
Mise En Place – the best use of the first 10 minutes of your day:
Hint: It’s not checking email on your smartphone from bed.
“The Meez” (click for full article, solid quick read)
“What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at your desk? For many of us, checking email or listening to voice mail is practically automatic. In many ways, these are among the worst ways to start a day. Both activities hijack our focus and put us in a reactive mode, where other people’s priorities take center stage. They are the equivalent of entering a kitchen and looking for a spill to clean or a pot to scrub.
A better approach is to begin your day with a brief planning session. An intellectual mise-en-place. Bourdain envisions the perfect execution before starting his dish. Here’s the corollary for the enterprising business professional. Ask yourself this question the moment you sit at your desk: The day is over and I am leaving the office with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. What have I achieved?
This exercise is usually effective at helping people distinguish between tasks that simply feel urgent from those that are truly important. Use it to determine the activities you want to focus your energy on.”
Want Over Should
Someone recently turned me on to the psychology / irrational thinking blog You Are Not So Smart, specifically a post about procrastination. While I found the article a little obtuse, there was one premise that stuck with me:
“In the struggle between should versus want, some people have figured out something crucial – want never goes away. Procrastination is all about choosing want over should.”
He goes on about the theories of hyperbolic discounting (which sounds like the heart and soul of procrastination), and gives a few examples of ways to force yourself into being responsible:
“This is why food plans like Nutrisystem work for many people. Now-you commits to spending a lot of money on a giant box of food which future-you will have to deal with. People who get this concept use programs like Freedom, which disables Internet access on a computer for up to eight hours, a tool allowing now-you to make it impossible for future-you to sabotage your work.”
But what I found more interesting was the want versus should mentality.
I mean, I was procrastinating against sending this very email/post! Something I really do WANT to do. But I’d mentally put it in the “Should” pile — and found myself hesitating and delaying and avoiding it.
When I realized that I was thinking of this email (and a few other things) as a “should”, I wondered if that wasn’t the very cause of my hesitation. So, I thought about why I *wanted* to do it…well, here I am writing.
The next few times I find myself avoiding something, I’m going to try this little re-framing exercise:
- set aside whether or not I “should” do it, and
- think instead about why I “want” to do it.
- …see if I do it. :)
If anyone else tries it, lmk if it works for you!
Work Warm-ups: Figuring out how to “drop in”
You’re going to have to tolerate a little yoga-talk in this one, but stick with me — I promise the application will apply regardless of your interest in striking up a yoga practice. Full post will be linked on the blog!
There’s a saying in yoga, that you want to “drop in” to your practice — meaning get centered and focused and THERE. The beginning of most yoga classes try to help you drop in — focusing on your breath, closing your eyes to shut out external distractions, doing simple poses to “listen” to how your body is feeling today.
That “dropping in” can ALSO come when you get your blood pumping. I was reminded of this in a practice recently. I let myself have a more intense start than normal — a simple, repetitive, fast-paced sequence that really got my blood up. Instead of feeling harried and a little stressed by it, as I thought I might, when I paused at the end of that warm-up sequence, I was completely in my zone and focused.
I wonder, as I think of the blood pumping and the energy I created from a simple, strong, energetic sequence — in the practice of work, do I have simple things to do that would energize me with ease? That would “get my blood up” so to speak? Do I take on tasks and work that could be this sort of warm-up, the thing that gets the blood pumping? What is my professional equivalent of sun salutations?
And on the flip side, in the rhythm and pacing of a “day’s practice,” aka work, do I have things that allow me to pause, to wipe the slate clean, before I dive in again?*
I’m most curious about the first. Do you have simple things in your work day that get your blood moving, that you like to do before diving in to the meaty, tough stuff? Share! I am curious.
That’s all for now. Until we meet again — wish me luck organizing my mind before checking email, keeping this blog/email list in the “Want” pile and out of the “Should” pile, and finding a few warm-up work things that I can do to get a strong start for every day. Share and send feedback / thoughts / comments.
*(Facebook & email checking would not count as things that allow me to pause — while they cause me to pause, they don’t wipe anything clean, they more serve as the Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit’s hole, leading to a whole world of new distractions and…(she says as she checks her email for the 4th time in a minute))