Pausing has been a key theme of my week and there have been many elements to the pauses.
I’ve started a new Positive Intelligence (PQ) programme run by Shirzad Chamine. This week’s activities have required me to interrupt myself – to pause – and engage in mindfulness activities for a few minutes at intervals throughout the day, focusing on either touch, breathing, sound or vision. This interruption helps to counter stress and build new neural pathways in your brain, as you learn to run your brain rather than it being run by your negative emotions (e.g. stress, anxiety, self-doubt, etc.).
This idea of taking regular pauses was a subject that came up in a recent coaching session with our associate, Bob Gibbon, and Richard Williams. You could try it by setting a timer, for example to take a 5-10-minute break every 90 minutes, to remind yourself to step away from what you’re doing. You could get a drink, go for a walk, draw something, listen to music, play an instrument, etc. Taking yourself away from your task lets your brain process everything it has been doing. You’ll often find that it’s during these downtimes that you’ll come up with your best ideas. To hear Richard discuss working from rest, rather than resting from work, you can listen to his podcast episode here.
Recent research by Microsoft has shown the value of taking short breaks between meetings, particularly in the virtual world of ‘Zoom fatigue’. They found that taking 10-minute breaks between meetings allowed the brain to reset, breaking the accumulation of stress (which is something I’ve discussed previously). Breaking up the back-to-back meetings enabled people to be more focused and engaged, which, you would expect, should lead to having more productive and successful meetings.
I also happened to read a great article by Ken Blanchard earlier today which discusses mindfulness and curiosity, and which you might find interesting.
On Wednesday, I joined an interactive session run by Sporting Edge which featured voice and presentation skills expert, Lisa Akesson. The type of pause encouraged in this session was pausing in speech to make our delivery more impactful. A pause and controlled breathing can help us deliver our message with more gravitas, and our breakout group found that more of the information connected when delivered in this way. You can even try pausing between your first and last names when introducing yourself to enable it to ‘hit’ more effectively.
Finally, yesterday was Earth Day and it was great to spend some time outside on my walk home from the gym. I haven’t been for walks on my own during lockdown, so taking a few minutes to enjoy the peace and beauty of nature in the spring sunshine was very enjoyable and left me refreshed and recharged by the time I got home.
So there you have it. A summary of pauses I’ve recently experienced that I’ve found helpful, thought-provoking, relaxing, enjoyable and reinvigorating. Try taking regular pauses to recharge, let your brain work its magic and really focus in shorter, more productive sessions.