Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the category “Game Playing”

Talking to Myself Again

Yep. I’m talking to myself more and more these days. I’ve even started emailing myself. The onset of madness, or management for a healthy mind?

In fairness, I’ve not yet got to the stage that others I know have. I’m not giving myself pep talks or motivating myself with inspirational statements. I’m not even really chastising myself for thinking unproductive/damaging thoughts.

No, it’s more of a pressure release valve. For the last year or two I’ve been trying to listen to myself. I’ve been trying to get good at picking up on the signals (for me, normally tension or lightness in my middle chest: the place you feel when you breath in deeper than you normally do….)

Why am I doing this? Mainly because I’ve realised that I’m a very simple creature. I’ve spent the last few years putting in place trusted systems, and learning some perspectives and processes (plus the pop-neurological background….), that have enabled me to strip myself back to my kind of core ‘operating model’

Sounds a bit up it’s own arse I know. It’s just meant to highlight my view that certain things work for certain people. For me, if I take an action when the middle chest place feels blocked or tense, I immediately get back to lightness in that place. That lightness stops me being distracted from the here and now. And as long as I make sure I spend the here and now doing as many of the things that I really want to do, then my happiness is optimised.

The actions I need to take to alleviate the tension are invariably for the future, rather than immediate. Using the trusted systems, I give myself an action, send myself a message (or send someone else a message or action)

So. My advice? Talk to yourself more often.

What Forrest Gump is Still Teaching Me

What do The Dog Whisperer and Forest Gump have in common?

Both cause reflection about how the average human’s sense and awareness of past and future can be debilitating to performance in the present (if your mind makes the random connections that mine does)

In my post, Our Simple Minds: Mind Tricks, I explored a simple view that if we remove the conscious barriers or layers between identification of the need for the action, and the action itself, then it appears that we get more done with less resistance.

Drill Sergeant: Gump! What’s your sole purpose in this army?
Forrest Gump: To do whatever you tell me, drill sergeant!

If we remove the conscious resistance to the task and just do, then we’re focusing on our own drill sergeant of task completion.

What occurred to me watching The Dog Whisperer is how we as humans debilitate ourselves by carrying our baggage of history in our heads, and the blanket of stress of expectation and future fears. We bring this to bear on our treatment of dogs, and they don’t know why. They live in the now. Yes they have programmed responses, but as soon as these are removed then their only concern is the here and now. We’re the ones who often screw them up by bizarre behaviour tainted by how they were previously, or our concerns about how they’re going to respond. We miss the mindfulness of the here and now.

It’s very easy to ignore the work you should be doing when you’re rambling with something pleasurable or distracting: the reading, exploring the web, or online conversations. Most of us can lose ourselves in something for minutes if not chunks of hours.  The great thing is that we can lose ourselves in work and task completion in exactly the same way by just tricking ourselves into action. Even just reversing the above pleasurable rambling scenario would work. Rather than ignoring the work you should be doing; ignore the distractions by planning a whole days worth of reading, exploring the web, online conversations etc. etc. Then just ramble with a bit of work. Just start something knowing that you ‘should’ be reading/ surfing/ chatting etc.

The strangest thing happens: you start work without resistance. It flows until you’re a bit spent. Then you can force yourself to start ‘work’ on what you have planned to do……… just see how long it takes you to get distracted by work again though ;-)

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Why the 20 Minute Rule and Ignoring Yourself Increase Productivity

Thinking a lot about the apparent contradiction in the following: Is the best way of being truly mindful, creative and in the ‘here and now’ to be continually running a slot management and priority review system?

I know I’ve read about it many times in David Allen’s (see links in right bar) work, but it’s been difficult to make stick previously. Something’s definitely shifting. Again, I think it’s a left brain/ right brain thing. Let me explain.

My left brain, in Taylor’s words ‘chatters’. It’s continually raising into my awareness my commitments, to do list, undone business etc. It’s function as an awareness system has shortcomings. Dragging my focus onto those things that my other-than-conscious cannot currently sort on it’s own doesn’t help if I can’t consciously act now to sort those commitments or issues. They end up bouncing round my head and weighing heavy on my chest (at low moments)

So what to do? Accept that mindfulness and the ‘here and now moments’ are paid for by lots of little actions. These actions are normally dismissed: ‘I’ve only got 20 minutes, I’ll start thinking about that big project that’s been on my task list for weeks in that big slot I’ve got tomorrow afternoon’

Wrong. Why? Because 1. You’re already thinking about it. Have been since you committed to do the task and put it on a list. You can’t stop (consciously or otherwise) until you’ve started the momentum towards a goal you’re crystal clear about. 2. Why not do 20 minutes now? Pen to paper and start to list everything you can think of that you’ll have to do to achieve your goal. End the slot with a time commitment to just another 20 minutes tomorrow. (in that big slot tomorrow afternoon that will probably suck in loads of distractions, so you’ll only have another 20 minutes anyway)

Repeat the above every day for a week and you’ll have given the project that’s been hanging in your thoughts and on your chest 100 minutes intense focus. Set a deadline and you’ll be near completing it.

Do the above across all the things in your task list. It may cause a balloon of work (and make it seem you have even less time in the here and now) – but it’s a hump you’ll overcome to achieve efficiency.

If you notice, it’s virtually accidental. An afterthought to use a 20 minute slot rather than re-reading the emails that have been squatting in your inbox (which you never get round to because you’d never get anything done in 20 minutes, would you…….)

The point of the above in relation to a contradiction between a system and creativity?

We’re using our logical left brain to accept the shortcomings of it’s chatter, to then accept a system that it doesn’t believe in, to facilitate something at the polar opposite end of logical and analytical.

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