Tag Archives: Productivity

10 Tips for Mindful Work

Here are 10 general mindfulness exercises for when you are working.

1. Engage yourself in your work as if your job depends on it.

2. Become the best at what you do, not the best at gabbing around the office.

3. If you finish a project early, review your work and look for ways to improve upon it.

4. A big project is filled with small tasks, which may seem menial and/or tedious, but remember that the large project can only come together through the doing of the small tasks. Do them well.

5. Learn from your co-workers by asking the right questions.

6. If you are becoming overwhelmed by your workload, consider coming to work early. A quiet office very early in the morning can be quite refreshing and may be a nurturing atmosphere for productivity.

7. An afternoon walk outside may provide a solution to that problem you are trying to work out and the stimuli may help, too.

8. Build your work competencies daily by asking questions and learning as much as you can about your current position.

9. The better you are at what you do, the more meaningful your work will be.

10. From CL wisdom, “Do the NOW well.”

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Please help me expand this list. What techniques for mindful working work for you?

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Quote: Sherlock Holmes

From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet”:

“You see,” he explained, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend up it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.” – Sherlock Holmes

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Some Thoughts on Michael Wade’s “Slowing Down”

Michael Wade wrote an excellent article entitled, Slowing Down, which I recommend you spend some quality time with. His brief article deals with, as the title says, “slowing down.” Namely, slowing down the ways in which we might rush through a project, an email or a piece of writing (slowing down our habits of living). His words ring quite true to myself as I scramble to put on my tie, finish and send an email while wolfing down breakfast, so that I can get to work on time. His words also remind me of some Constructive Living wisdom, which goes something like this: When you are in a hurry, slow down.

It’s amazing how sometimes we can jump so far ahead of ourselves that we ignore some small yet crucial detail or task, necessary to the successful and mistake-free completion of a project or task. Even as I am writing this, as the words keep appearing, I am, in a sense, rushing (now revising). Maybe you can sense that. We tend to live in a world of varying degrees of speed (as Thayer reminded us in “Reach vs. Grasp”). Sometimes productivity can overwhelm us. Sometimes being too productive can cloud over the value of slow and effortful doing. Perhaps productivity folds back in on itself. Sometimes faster is not always better, only faster. If, as the cliche goes, “time is money,” then we should make sure that we are wisely investing our time. This does not mean engaging in “impulse buys,” but, more crucially, in well-thought-out decisions (purchases) and purposeful doing. It’s the difference between eating fast-food as opposed to eating fresh fruit. There are big differences in the outcomes of this seemingly brainless choice.

Wade points us to a simple yet, in my opinion, valuable, look at this controllable way of thinking and doing. Our TV game shows like to challenge us by testing how quickly we can answer questions. The person who is the fastest gets to reply. If, in that situation, we are fast and able to correctly answer the question, we may walk away with a cash prize. Nonetheless, our daily lives are much different than that. While speedy responses and speedy completion of projects may show us to be valuable employees on the surface, what if the haste of our doing results in some simple yet overlooked mistake? Do we still get “the prize?” What if that email lacked some important piece of information? Why kick yourself later when you had the choice to revise? Overlooking something can be corrected if we just slow down. Is tackling a project with speed and tackling a project with purpose different? If so, how so? Can a quick reply be a well-thought out reply? Perhaps, but not for me.

Sometimes we become speed and sometimes we become slow. How does this way of thinking change or improve our ways of doing? Does it matter?

Staying the Course: Difficulty Approached

Staying the course, or in other words, persevering, can be challenging. At least for me, it is challenging. Hence, one of the reasons why I have failed to write here in quite some time. As with most things that we tend to neglect, we have no “real” reason at all. We get caught up in other ways of doing things and are pulled by the things which we give our time and attention to – to whatever end that may be. Nonetheless, persevering is important in spite of the myriad of reasons (made-up reasons) why one should or shouldn’t stay the course. If you are pulled in other directions, it is best to make sure that you aren’t just playing some game with yourself to compensate for your lack of talent.

In the film “Music of the Heart,” featuring Meryl Streep as an inner-city music teacher, she says, “You shouldn’t quit something just because it’s difficult.” How true these words ring to me and how often do I see and hear people giving up all around me simply because something is temporarily difficult. If something is difficult, then devote all of your time and attention to that thing and make it not difficult. The more time you spend with it, trying to figure it out, chipping away at it and, in general, practicing it, the less difficult it becomes. Or, even if it continues to be difficult, what is difficult shifts from what you originally perceived as difficult to a different layer of difficulty. This means that you are learning it. Learning isn’t always fun or easy.

Staying the course of a goal that you set is no less daunting. It may be one of the most difficult things that you embark on.

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Oh, Failure!: Elbert Hubbard

This is the first in a series that I am calling, “Oh, Failure!,” in which I will choose one quotation about “failure” and provide my interpretation of it. This is a subject that has fascinated and hurt me for years and a subject that I have much experience in (i.e. I have failed many times in trying to do many things, big and small). For my own selfish purposes and hopefully to your benefit, I will do my best to interpret and open up the topic of “failure.” Let’s begin.

Elbert HubbardImage via WikipediaElbert Hubbard, author of “A Message to Garcia,” wrote, “A failure is a man who has blundered but is not capable of cashing in on the experience.”

In this quotation, Garcia is urging us to build our capacity for interpreting our failures in a way that can somehow be to our advantage. Sometimes, failing at a task can simply become our motive for giving up, even though it might not be in our best interest to do so. Failure can show us how to do things differently, if only we strengthen our capacities in such a way that we can learn to use the failure to better (or change) the situation and not let it get the better of us.

If you find yourself failing in all the same ways over and over, change what you are doing and change how you are interpreting your failure.

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Walking Your Path

“Many paths lie before you.
Some paths highlight quiet sitting in peaceful surroundings.
Some paths highlight sharp action and danger.
Some paths are highly visible to others.
Some paths require many hours of isolation.
Your path is individually designed for you.
You discover it only by walking it.
Looking back, the twists and turns make some sense.
But perhaps not now.
Either is fine.”

David K. Reynolds
from Word Showers

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Jose Ortega Y Gasset on “Decisions”

Our lives are continually affected and altered by the decisions that we make, the paths we choose to move within and about, the paths we choose to realize. As you already know, you can’t not decide and therein lies the difficulty – the difficulty of choice. It is a perpetual “trip” through the choices that we make or choose not to make that shape our lives. Any way we cut the cake, we move through these situations in spite of and with respect of the consequences of what kind of life we have chosen to live.

Ortega Y Gasset, in his Man and People says, “But life is nothing except man’s being; so that here we have the most extraordinary, extravagant, dramatic, and paradoxical thing about the human condition – namely, that man is the only reality that does not simply consist in being but must choose its own being. For if we analyze the commonplace thing that is going to occur in a little while – the fact that each of us will have to choose and decide the direction of the street he is going to take – you will see that the choice of such a seemingly simple act will be made only with the intervention of the entire choice that you have already made, the choice that at this moment, as you sit here, you carry secretly in your inmost selves, in your most hidden depths: the choice of a type of humanity, of a way of being man, that you seek to realize in your living.” (44)

What this means for us is that each of us carries and lives-through the ability to become, while acting out the stories that we imagine ourselves as experiencing. Our humanity is caught up in the decisions that we make and, more than that, is embedded in the decisions that we have already made. I am reminded here of a CL adage of, “if you want to change who you are, change what you do.” We live our life in terms of what we do and, more importantly, in how we (and the others around us) interpret what we do. The life that you want to have starts with your moving toward that kind of life with the tools and competencies you have at hand in the context of the life that you currently are a part of.

Thank you for deciding to read this article. DO your best and CHOOSE wisely.

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