PAUSE – 14.08 – In Praise of Puttering

Hands Free!

Hands Free!

Reflection: When preparing to deliver a conference presentation or seminar for a group, I’ll often interview a sampling of attendees ahead of time to find out more about their workplace stresses and satisfactions.

In a recent series of interviews for an upcoming conference, I asked about successful strategies for coping with high demand, stressful times. I heard a predictable assortment of suggestions: adopting time savers, planning ahead, taking time out, celebrating successes and having some fun.

However, one unusual response stood out. This particular fellow described his stress reduction strategy as ‘puttering’. He explained that when life and work grow demanding, he narrows his attention and focuses only on the high priority items.

But, after several weeks of that high level focus, he finds he has sidelined a whole pile of lesser tasks. These smaller, less important bits and pieces build up to create a pressure all their own.

At that point, he devotes a day to puttering. No major projects and no big decisions are allowed. Instead, he putters around clearing away the small stuff.

He calls A, repairs B, stores C, answers D, files E, replaces F, cleans up G, and so it goes.

As he moves from one small task to another with ease and a meandering spirit, he fuels a sense of accomplishment and feels a sense of relief. Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 14.07 – Step Back To Step Ahead

Beach Walking-wReflection: If you happened to view any of the three short videos I shared while the regular Pause ezine was on hiatus, you would have caught one or more messages about the value of stepping back to step ahead. Just in case you missed it or them, today I’m sharing a ‘summing up’ and a link to the complete article.

I have come to understand that nonstop action is a dead end strategy for success. When we nix time-outs, we just hit the wall – not the mark. Sometimes we really do have to step back to step ahead. Making the most of our days involves building strategic pauses into everyday experiences.

When we step back, stand down and chill out, we tap more readily into renewal, appreciation and perspective.

 

Action: Here are nine (3 x 3) pause practices that will help you generate more energy, enthusiasm and insight. Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Video

PAUSE – 14.03 – Heh! Where’s My Coffee?

 coffee-wReflection: I don’t know about you, but I like to start my day with a hot cup of coffee. Well, truth be known, I like to sip coffee all day long. Decaf – for the most part – so I’m not jangling from a high wire by high noon.

This morning I set the coffee to drip as usual, and went about getting my day started elsewhere in the house. Hearing the beep that signaled the coffee was ready, I returned to the kitchen to pour my first cuppa java. What I discovered was an empty pot and a kitchen counter covered from one end to the other in a slick of steaming brown liquid. Apparently the flow-through flap on the pot lid jammed, and the coffee had nowhere to go but over the top.

Cleaning up a swill-spill was not how I’d planned to start my day – especially before my first cup of coffee. I muttered a few choice words as I mopped up the mess.

I also recognized the situation as one of life’s moments of choice. I could feed my frustration, let the annoyance overflow, seeping into the rest of the day like the coffee itself; or I could take things in stride and let it go.

 

Action: At the root of our frustrations about life’s unexpected challenges lies a quirky little belief that we’re somehow entitled to a world that runs smoothly all day every day. In fact, speed bumps, detours and breakdowns are a normal part of life. The real challenge is to keep it all in perspective.

Here are five ways to let it go and sidestep a frustration hangover that can set a downer tone for the rest of the day. (I used all of these this morning!) Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines

PAUSE – 14.02 – Is There Room For You?

courage-wReflection: As I was reviewing the Pause reader suggestions for topics to cover in future editions, this question caught my eye: “How do I find the courage to start a new endeavor? I’m wanting to start my own business. When I see that others are already doing what I want to do, does that mean there’s no room for me?”

Now, I know that not all of you are thinking of starting a new business. However, I have a serious hunch that every single one of you is toying with an idea, a pursuit, or a new endeavor of some kind that is nudging you to bring it to life. It’s a similar conundrum. So, perhaps, some of these thoughts will be helpful.

I do believe we each have something unique to offer the world, and it’s not always an entirely new enterprise that’s called for. Sometimes we are able to make that unique contribution right where we are planted now. The challenge is to tap into that uniqueness, grow it, and get it out there. What’s your uniqueness?

Many of the shifts and advances in my own life have been preceded by an investment in learning. Taking an Entrepreneurship workshop gave me a better idea of what I’d be facing if I started a business. Participating in a Masters program shifted my focus into the balance and wellness areas. Investing time and resources in painting classes brought me the confidence to take my art to the world. Books, videos, and mentoring conversations also helped me step up and give things a shot. What do you need to learn?

“Is there room for me?” is a tough question to answer. What pops to mind is the guidance of a mentor of mine who once counseled, “You don’t need everyone, Pat, you just need enough!” And, we’ll never know if there’s enough room or enough interest until we test it out. What might you regret if you never gave it a try?

 

Action: If there’s a new endeavor, or a new direction lurking on your horizon, here is a starter set of questions to pause and ponder in the days ahead:

  • What will you need to learn or who will you need to become to travel this road and bring this idea to life?
  • Where and how could you make a learning investment in your future – in what comes next?
  • What’s a first step you could take to test the waters?

 

Quote Of The Week: All real change begins with self change. As enterprise leaders, our capacity for organizational growth is directly proportional to our own growth. – Kevin Cashman

Resource Of The Week: Looking for a few more ideas or a bit of inspiration to help you jumpstart a new endeavor? Check out Kim Duke’s new book, “Ugly Baby – How To Get Over Fear and Give Birth To Your Odd Idea, Start A Business, Or Invent Something Cool”.

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Pause E-zines

This post was written by Pat Katz on January 15, 2014 Add a Comment »

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PAUSE – 14.01 – Less Really Can Mean More

piles of stuff-wReflection: Several times over the years, I’ve created lists of things I might like to Do, Be and Have. The current lingo would label it a Vision Board (thank you, Oprah) or a Bucket List (thank you, Jack Nicholson). No matter what you call it, the exercise creates a set of intentions and desires for the future.

What was of interest to me an a recent round of inquiry was what showed up in the ‘What I’d Like To Have’ column. In my earlier days, I found it easy to come up with a lengthy list of possessions that I imagined might somehow make my life better.

However, on this particular day, the very first entry – top of the list – popped out without hesitation. What would I most like to have? Less stuff!

That could explain why I struggled with family requests to tell them what I might like as gifts for Christmas. That could explain why trips to fetch something from the crawl space in the basement are increasingly irritating. That could explain why I’ve had this feeling that the walls in my office and home are closing in on me.

The idea of more stuff has less appeal. I’ve taken that insight to heart and turned it into one of my first activities for the new year. I’m sifting stuff, ditching junk, and clearing space.

Old magazines. Gone! Outdated software disks and manuals. Gone! Christmas decorations that have lost their appeal. Gone! That mountain of cardboard boxes saved just in case they might be needed. Gone!

The garbage bin is brimming and the recycling bin is bursting. The Salvation Army Thrift Shop folks were beaming with my first delivery of six boxes and a suitcase full of stuff.

 

Action: Are you looking to lighten up? Chucking the clutter is a great way to start the new year.

Take a good look around. This stuff grows invisible over time. See what kind of excess may be cramping your style. Move it on and move it out.

A little elbow grease may buy you a little elbow room – and a whole lot more breathing space. Let me know how it goes!

 

Quotes Of The Week: Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire. – Wendell Berry

Give me the discipline to get rid of the stuff that’s not important, the freedom to savor the stuff that gives me joy, and the patience not to worry about the stuff that’s messy but not hurting anybody. – Vinita Wright

Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self. – Eleanor Brownn

Resource Of The Week: You might find value in this article by Mikael Cho: How Clutter Affects You (And What You Can Do About It).

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines

Home For Frosty

Frosty The Snowman-wAs many of you will know, near the end of December I held a little contest to find a Home For Frosty.

The Frosty in question is the sketch you see to the left of this post. He was the inspiration for the ‘learn to paint’ exercise that I did with the CTV Morning Show team when I introduced the new Sketches of Saskatoon book in an interview before Christmas.

53 Pause ezine readers offered up a home for Frosty. One lucky reader had her name drawn out of the hat, and Frosty is already on his way to hang his hat with her.

This short video clip, recorded first thing in the new year, brings you a lively New Years greeting and shares the inside scoop on the results of the  Home For Frosty contest.

I do hope you are staying warm wherever you happen to be, and enjoying the best of a brand new year.

Posted under Artwork, Video

This post was written by Pat Katz on January 7, 2014 2 Comments »

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PAUSE – 13.36 – Presence

Frosty The Snowman-wWith the new year peaking around the corner, it’s so easy to suffer whiplash – as we intently scan the past year and eagerly anticipate the next. But, as the infamous Yogi Berra once observed, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

And so, my invitation to you for the remainder of 2013 is to be as present as you can possibly be to the people and experiences that cross your path in the closing days of the year.

Presence is an awesome gift, one that’s far more valuable than any presents that may come our way in this the season of giving. When we find ways to be present we’re much more likely to appreciate the delights of each moment as life unfolds around us.

I hope you enjoy reading a few of my favorite quotes about presence. Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life in General, Pause E-zines, Wellness

This post was written by Pat Katz on December 18, 2013 4 Comments »

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PAUSE – 13.35 – Energy Challenges Of The Season

Reflection: At this time of ‘let’s be jolly’ pot-luck dinners, concerts and parties, it’s pretty easy to separate the extroverts from the introverts.

extrovert-wThe extroverts sport big grins and boundless enthusiasm for the events of the season. A party tonight? Excellent! Another gathering tomorrow? Awesome! Three more events on the weekend? It doesn’t get any better than that!

introvert-wIntroverts, on the other hand, struggle to keep pace. It’s not that they’re anti-social. Introverts enjoy their friends and family just as much as their more extroverted siblings, co-workers, cousins, and partners.

It’s just that large gatherings of people are exhausting for introverts. Being out and about and socializing exacts a huge toll on the introvert’s psychic and physical energy.

 

Action: If there was ever a time or a season for introverts to be attending to energy, this is it. Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 13.34 – Traction As A Stress Reducer

Spinning Wheels-wReflection: One of life’s great frustrations and stressors is that feeling that you’re not getting anywhere. Or, if you are in motion, that you’re just spinning your wheels or going in circles.

I’ve written before about Amabile and Kramer’s work on the Progress Principle, and how motivating it can be to see evidence of moving things forward in your work and your life – to deliver on an action promise made to yourself or someone else.

With the end of the year clearly in sight, you may be asking, “Where did those last eleven months go, and why am I not further ahead with X, Y or Z?”

Part of the challenge is that life tosses a lot of distractions our way. We can easily be pulled off course responding to the new and shiny or engaging in the quick and easy. In the meantime, the high level work – the big ideas – the important pursuits – languish for want of attention.

It’s still not too late to make progress before the end of the year on something that matters to you.

 

Action: Here are eight actions that can help you make space for and gain traction on the high level work in your world. (I’m particularly partial to number six.) Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 13.33 – What Would It Take To Be More In The Moment?

liveinthemoment-wReflection: It’s just another day in the flow of a busy life, but in the midst of it all ….

  • I pull the morning newspaper from the mailbox and take a deep draw on the crisp November air.
  • I sip my coffee as the sun paints the sky – first gold, then pink, then blue.
  • I laugh at a story a colleague shares, and thank my lucky stars for his awesome sense of humor.
  • I wait at the supermarket checkout tickled by a cart-bound toddler sharing a lively game of peek-a-boo with the next shopper down line.
  • I play a board game with my grandson and marvel at the fierce concentration that plays across his handsome little face.
  • I stand in the midst of a funeral gathering and watch the eyes of one old friend light up at the approach of another.

Life flourishes in these simple moments of presence. The cares and preoccupations of the everyday world fade into the background, shifting from front and center to the sidelines.

 

Action: What’s the nature of your experience these days? One giant blur or crisp sharp moments of presence?

These experiences are present every single day, but are we? The moments are all we really have. Don’t let them pass you by – unnoticed, unmarked, unappreciated.

Set an intention to be as present as possible as often as possible. Pause.

 

Quote Of The Week: Our true home is in the present moment. To be in the present moment is a miracle. – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Resource Of The Week: Here’s an interesting article from Greg McKeown: Reduce Your Stress In Two Minutes A Day

 

Readers Write: In response to last week’s message, Go Ahead…Make Your Day, Pause reader MW writes: Your question as to how did I start my day was most timely to read. I usually start my morning swimming laps at 7 a.m. That is a great way for me to start my day even when it is -28 C outside. Last night, as I was setting my alarm clock, I debated about going swimming today. To do so I would have to be at the pool shortly after 6 a.m. to meet my other commitments for the morning.

But, I decided to go swimming early and am so glad I did. I do my most creative thinking as I am swimming laps and I had a brainwave for a creative project I am working on. Plus the swimming always revitalizes me and gives me the energy to get through the busy and stressful times.

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines