Christmas is here. Are you planning to take time off work? If you are, do you still expect to be connected and checking emails?
Before we go on, I want to share a story that Stephen Covey tells in his book, 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.
In his book, he tells a story about a man that came across a frustrating lumberjack. The lumberjack was trying to cut down a tree.
“What’s the problem?” The man asked.
“My saw’s blunt and won’t cut the tree properly.” The lumberjack responded.
“Why don’t you just sharpen it?”
“Because then I would have to stop sawing.” Said the lumberjack.
“But if you sharpened your saw, you could cut more efficiently and effectively than before.”
“But I don’t have time to stop!” The lumberjack retorted, getting more frustrated.
The man shook his head and kept on walking, leaving the lumberjack to his unnecessary frustration.
This story illustrates something significant. How many times have you kept on working and working, with little or no sleep, without any breaks? You knew that you should take a break to regain focus, but you are too afraid to fall behind, so you just keep going?
If we want the ability to turn on and be super focused, we need to train ourselves to turn off.
This is something that Tim Ferriss and Josh Waitzkin (a chess prodigy) talks about on The Tim Ferriss Show. They talk about the ability to turn yourself on. If you want to be better at turning yourself on, you need to practice your ability to turn off.
If we want to perform better, we need to have some downtime. We need downtime every day. Often, we need some for several days. The better we can do that, the better we can perform.
Here are some suggestions that you can try out:
When you are done working today, log off work until the next day. That means no work-related emails, texts or phone calls. It can wait until tomorrow. The only exception to this if it’s a real emergency.
When you get home, have a phone/computer/social media-free time. We get bombarded with so many inputs. It will be challenging the first time you try it.
Set aside some time for yourself. Read a book. Mediate. Walk outside. Work on a hobby.
Make it a challenge. How long can you stay in the company of your own thoughts? If you haven’t practiced this for a while, this will most likely be uncomfortable. Once you get past the unpleasant, it is a beautiful place to stay in. You will most likely notice that your thoughts are more focused!
I’m curious to hear from you. What comes up when you are in company with your own thoughts? Do you find it a bit scary? Do you have any a-ha moments? Comment below!