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Entries in relaxation (6)


Intermission Time?

"Dazed, confused, stressed, overwhelmed, numb, disconnected and burned out." These could describe how you are currently feeling at work or in your life and indicate that it is time for you to take an intermission. AND, it could also describe how you are feeling while you are actually taking an intermission or vacation.
Have you ever needed a vacation from your vacation? Take this into consideration as you plan your next getaway. Here are some ideas to consider:
  • Before you plan your next vacation, consider what type of vacation you need. Are you ready for an adventure and to explore new places until you drop? Or do you need a vacation that is full of relaxing, reflection and rest?
  • If you are planning on an "adventure" type of vacation, schedule in some time to relax and catch up on your sleep. Pace yourself. Your vacation will be more enjoyable if you get some rest and your recovery time will be quicker as well.
  • An intermission doesn't need to be long nor does it need to be complex. Keeping your plans "local" and "simple" can be the better vacation that you enjoy.
  • Schedule an extra day or two to unwind from a vacation at home. Take the time to get caught up on your mail, messages, laundry and plan for your return to "real life."

An intermission is an important part of your circus. Make sure you take full advantage of this time so that you will be ready for the next "Act."


An Inspiring View

We recently had the great opportunity to have dinner with one of the most successful business book authors of all time. The restaurant was located on a beach in Southern California. After dinner we were walking along the shoreline and he pointed out that one of his first offices was located just down the street, on a point overlooking the ocean. I semi-jokingly made the comment that if I had an office like that, I wouldn't be able to get anything done because I would be too busy enjoying the beauty of the view. He then shared a very interesting thought with us.

He said that when he works in an environment that has good views and that is inspiring to him that he actually thinks bigger, is less constrained and is more productive. He went on to explain that to him, his physical surroundings made a big difference to the quality and substance of what he accomplished.

Where do you do your best work? We might not have a view of the ocean from your desk. Some of us might be staring at cubicle walls most of the day. But consider the notion that wherever you choose to do what you do can influence you. Do what you can to create an environment that is condusive and inspiring. You might start with hanging some pictures or quotes that have meaning to you. Maybe a fresh coat of paint will make a difference. At the very least remove clutter from your desk and surroundings that can distract and even overwhelm you. Choose to be inspired and motivated to do your very best work by creating the proper environment.


The Cost of Clowning Around

The outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, estimate that March Madness (the excitement that follows the NCAA basketball tournament) could cost businesses $1.8 billion in lost productivity and unproductive wages. The estimate is based on the approximate number or participants in office pools, the money they earn, and the time that they will likely spend checking updates and "trash talking." $1.8 billion is a lot of money.

So, what to do? How do you regain some of that lost productivity and clamp down on those who are wasting precious time? Maybe you embrace it! When was the last time your team had an intermission? When was the last time they had fun together? We understand that March Madness can get carried away but maybe a little "clowning around" will get that much needed energy back into the building.

Being a former basketball player, I love March Madness. I introduced a "bracket competition" in a company that was full of people that probably had never picked up a basketball, let alone watched a game. It was a great activity that the whole office had fun with. One Friday, we ordered pizza and watched a game during lunch. I have since left the organization but the tradition and excitement still lives on (they just emailed me a bracket and invited me to play).

It might not be "March Madness" that gets your office excited. Pick something else! Because it is critical to allow employees the opportunity to enjoy themselves and have a little entertainment. From the book Juggling Elephants, "People sometimes need to laugh, relax, and not take themselves so seriously." With a little effort, invest that $1.8 billion that you are going to lose anyway and reap a return.


What's Your Indicator?

Listen to this. A Netherlands-based electronics firm is creating a bracelet that will change color and flicker from yellow to red when a person's emotions rise to unhealthy levels. It's being developed chiefly for stock traders on European exchanges. When trading becomes too intense and the trader's blood pressure rises, the device will issue a warning to "take a time-out, wind down, or reconsider their actions," said the manufacturer. The results, hopefully, will be beneficial to investors-to say nothing of the stock brokers themselves.

What's your early warning indicator that you need to take a break? That you need to step back instead of trying to push forward mentally, emotionally or physically to the next task? Determining it now-before you hit the wall-and then planning how you will replenish the needed resources-will keep your circus running more smoothly.


Deep Thinking

Technology is great. I love that we can listen to music, check email, surf the Internet, check stocks/weather and can call anyone we want with a little portable device that goes everywhere with us. Anytime we have down time or are waiting for the next act in our circus we can be productive or enjoy a little entertainment.

But the flip side to this is that we can fill our time and our minds just about every moment in our day with something. When do we have time to think, ponder or contemplate? Do we take the time anymore to just listen to the thoughts going on in our brain or do we fill the time with music, email, social media, entertainment or the Internet? Down time is very important and we do need to take mental intermissions. But there is a balance where we need to sometimes hit the mute button and just think thoughts. It is important to turn off the distractions for some amount of time for "productive deep thinking" away from the mode of "doing stuff." What "ahas" have you found in your moments of solitude and reflection?

Remove as best as you can any interruptions (unplug the phones, log off the computer, close the door, tell everyone that you have an appointment with yourself for the next 30 minutes and can't be bothered unless the building is on fire). Have a list of items that you want to "think about." It could be a project you are working on, your family, your goals and dreams, strategy, a marketing plan, your next book, your career plan, who am I in the universe... and so on. Focus on one item at a time. Break the topic apart in your mind. Take notes. Listen for inspiration. Brainstorm. Stay focused. Maybe you only get through one item on your list. Allocate time each day to think.

If your day is so intense that you can't take the time to find a quiet place without distractions, be creative. What about during the commute? Turn the radio off and think while you drive. Put away the book, put in ear phones without turning on the MP3 player, close your eyes and think while riding the bus or subway. What about the time just before bed or when you are just waking up?

You don't have to think alone. Bring in your significant other or your work team on occasion. Pick a topic and brainstorm. There doesn't need to be an agenda. Think outside the box. Discuss vision. Are we on the right course? What should we be doing differently? What are we doing right? Write thoughts on the board. Be creative.

It is easy to fill our minds and our days with information, stuff that we need to do, stimulus and distractions. The goal is to carve out some time for focused...deep...thinking. You will be amazed at the "thoughts you will think."