I’ve been reflecting lately on steadiness. Specifically, the value of finding “Steady” in the midst of chaos, unrest, and disarray. Steady doesn’t mean everything has to be good or positive, nor does it require us to be calm at the moment. It’s more of a recognition that despite the chaos, things are either “ok” or perhaps eventually will be “ok”. It’s a combination of acceptance and trust in ourselves and our world to handle the madness. Steady arises from two things: Trust and Skill. Both are learned traits, and below are some ways to build upon our “Steady Skills”.
Building our “Steady” Skills:
Steady Skill Builders:
- Practice Single-Tasking: Single-tasking is the practice of focusing fully on one thing and following it to completion. Limiting distractions during this time (notifications, emails, phone calls) can be really beneficial. Notice how this feels in your body and mind afterward.
- Note for Parents & Practicing in the Time of COVID: During this time, it may simply be unrealistic to practice this deeply (especially with the demands of wee ones), family members sharing work time, and the general chaos of home life. Be patient and gentle with how you practice this. See if you can even get short bursts of uninterrupted time, and then extend those whenever possible. Likewise, when you are with your children, see if you can focus 100% of your attention on them and the task/play you are doing together. Notice how you and they respond to the focus.
- Be Aware of When You Are Multitasking: Simply being aware of when we are multi-tasking can be beneficial and begin to shift unhealthy habits. Take a moment to notice when you are multitasking and then take your inquiry a bit deeper: How does your body feel at this moment? Are you holding tension anywhere? What thoughts are going through your mind right now? Are they focused, or scattered?
- Fun Fact: There is no such thing as Multitasking – only task switching. Task switching hurts our brains and decreases our performance while increasing stress and adding to fatigue. Research shows task switching not only lowers IQ points, but also impairs productivity and cognitive functioning (especially when complex problem-solving skills are needed), and long-term impacts can actually damage the brain.
Our brains can improve our ability to focus, including in stressful or challenging moments. Exercise, as well as mindfulness and meditation, are core practices that help us to focus and directly impact the functioning of our brain. Neuroscience and research point to different ways to foster focus through mindfulness, meditation, and exercise. Some of our favorite studies on mindfulness come from Dr. Amishi Jha and her recent work with the Military and Special Forces*.1
Additional Steady Skill Builders:
- Notice “How” you Focus your Attention
- Do you tend towards multitasking or single-tasking?
- Do you tend towards being distracted or fully focused?
- Questions to consider:
- What is your productivity level when you can limit distractions?
- How does your body feel after you limit distractions?
- Does the work experience change for you? Do you enjoy it more, feel more or less satisfied? Do you have more or less energy?
- Notice “Where” you Focus your Attention
- Do you focus fully on work? Family? Kids? Fur babies?
- Where is your attention now? An hour ago? 5 hours ago?
- If you split up your typical day, where would your focus be split? In what areas? Are these areas you want them to focus on?
- If you could choose one area to ” redirect” your focus time – where would it be?
These are all great tools and questions to ask ourselves throughout our day. It is through these consistent little practices and gentle self-inquires, that our focus and awareness steadily builds. Cheers to the journey.
All the best,
Woodrie & The Team