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Life

Days of Grace, Hours of Contemplation

By slowing down, clearing out the extraneous, and sharpening your focus, you have a better chance of succeeding

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Days of Grace is an autobiographical work by the late Arthur Ashe, a U.S. tennis player, sports commentator, and historian. Ashe died from AIDS at the age of 47, which he contracted as a result of a blood supply mix-up at a hospital lab. He was married and had a young daughter. He had finished writing a huge three-volume set on the history of the African-American athlete starting from the 1650’s.

While working to complete Days of Grace and spending time with his wife and daughter, he reflected upon the last few months of his life in a way that most people never do.

These were the Days of Grace, when time slowed down, and when each day was precious. Ashe said that he became profoundly thankful for each month, then each week, and then each day he had left.

Trending on PolitiCrossing.com: WOW. Grab the Kleenex and Watch this Girl Sing!

Sharpening Your Focus

Scheduling days of grace serves a real purpose. By slowing down, clearing out the extraneous, sharpening your focus, and becoming more in tune, on a higher level, as to what activities need to be handled, you have a better chance of succeeding than you would otherwise.

Contemplate the last time you were asked to tackle any project, on your own or within a small team. Someone, probably your boss, was waiting for the results, which you needed to turn in on a deadline.

What was your immediate reflexive action? For some people it is to clear the decks. They literally create space on their desks, conference tables, or other workplaces.

Give yourself the opportunity to work without disruption. Assemble the resources you need. For the time being, let other pressing issues fall by the wayside. Give the task at hand sharp focus.

To Win, Slow Down

Rushing through any task invariably results in down time, errors, and having to do things over again. The total “rush-through” time ends up equaling what it would have taken if you had proceeded more cautiously.

You’ve heard the old saw about not having enough time to do a job right the first time, yet having to make the time later to fix it. As I discuss in my book Breathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped Up Society, one of the great paradoxes of our age is that often, to flourish in our sped-up society, sometimes the first and most critical step is to slow down:

* to get your bearings,

* to read the instructions,

* to reflect, or

* to rest.

If you have to, read instruction manuals, books, articles, reports, briefs, or data sheets.  Allocate twice the time that you instinctively would to the organization, reading, and digestion of such materials.

Before sitting down to read or engage in any other information intake process, surround yourself with the tools that support your ability to capture the essence of what you are reading and aptly apply it.

What is it Like?

Here is an exercise for whatever you’ve been asked to handle and whatever results are to be achieved: Is there something else in your work, your life, or the world you can identify that is similar like to what you’ve been assigned?

Has there been a previous project that you can examine and learn from? Did you work on something in a previous position, come across an article or case study, or know someone who managed a situation that has some similarities to yours?

Going a step further, are there any processes in nature, politics, or relationships that have elements that you can draw upon? Looking for a metaphor is not some esoteric, airy-fairy type of recommendation.

After all, people tend to naturally do this anyway. We relate one or more things that we know to what we are presently trying to learn in order to make our learning task easier.

In the early days of personal computers, manufacturers and developers used a metaphor of the human brain in both the design and explanation of how computers work. It wasn’t a perfect match, but it was sufficient to give most people an idea as to what computers could do, how they operated, and how to put them to work for you.

Giving yourself time and slack by scheduling days of grace increases the probability of seeing corollaries between what you have been assigned to manage and other things that you have come across in work or in life.

Pad Your Schedule

This sounds like heresy but to the degree practical, give yourself extra time at the start of a new week. This is time not merely for reading, but for thinking, reflecting, scheduling, and anticipating critical junctures.

Too often, you are thrown into a situation, often on short notice, and asked to perform miraculous results. Even in such instances, if you can maneuver for some extra time up-front, insights as well as genuine opportunities emerge that otherwise might not have.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Life

The Fine Art of Doing Nothing

Sometimes it’s hard to be alone, especially alone with our own thoughts

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“…people never are alone now. We make them hate solitude; and we arrange their lives so that it’s almost impossible for them ever to have it.” ~ Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

In this era, it’s becoming harder to be alone, especially alone with our own thoughts. Dr. Timothy Wilson, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia, along with other researchers conducted an experiment with student volunteers. The students were given two options: For 15 uninterrupted minutes they could do nothing.

Or, they could give themselves a small, electric shock. Roughly 67% of the men and 25% of the women in the experiment chose to give themselves small shocks, even though earlier, many had proclaimed that they would pay money not to endure such a shock.

Trending on PolitiCrossing.com: WOW. Grab the Kleenex and Watch this Girl Sing!

Anxious for Anything To Do

Why did they opt for the shock? They became increasingly anxious for anything to do over the course of the 15 minutes. Aha, you say! These were probably millennials for whom a 15-minute stretch of doing nothing is virtually impossible.

As it turns out, the participants consisted of adults recruited from a farmer’s market and from a church. They acted in much the same way that you might expect of millennials. They felt anxious and antsy when left alone for a 15-minute stretch with nothing else to do but be with themselves.

The question  for each of us is why is it becoming so hard to take a few moments throughout the day to simply do nothing? Have we become such a driven populace that we cannot even spare a few minutes for ourselves? Do we not recognize the peace of mind that we can experience when we’re not fully occupied every minute of the day?

Weaning Yourself

If you feel that you are constantly seeking to optimize every minute of the day, and perhaps are oversubscribed, over-informed, and overwhelmed, here are interlaced ideas that you can put into practice:

Start small. Rather than attempt a long stretch of doing simply nothing, see if you can last for 60 seconds or maybe 120 if you’re feeling brave. It’s best to attempt this after you finish a task, and feel good about your accomplishment. Marinade in your positive feelings.

Perhaps before you go to lunch or return from lunch, or before or after taking a break, why not allow yourself a little time to pause and, well, simply do nothing.

If you have a 15 minute break, where is it written that you can’t spend 60 seconds at your desk doing nothing, take a 13 minute break, then spend the last 60 seconds at your desk, again doing nothing.

Expand Your Ability

As you build more and more confidence in your ability to take some time out with no thoughts or activities in mind, strive for three to five minutes. If you arrive at work early, you could spend such time in your car with the radio off, not checking your cell phone, and not doing anything, other than simply sitting there.

At your workplace, maybe you can spend three minutes undetected in a conference room, corporate library, rooftop terrace, or elsewhere.

At home, where you have more flexibility, could you attempt a short weekend session? This should be no problem. During the weekday, it’s understandable that you seek to efficiently commute to and from work, although even on weeknights it might be possible for you to carve out a few minutes. Think of all the times you’ve been online, or you flick through the TV channels, and how aimless that can be.

Reinforce What Works

As time passes, giving yourself some stretches here and there where you don’t have to do anything can become reinforcing. You have the opportunity to take a deep breath. You get a chance to reflect, or to clear your mind. You have time to visualize.

Even if none of these things happen, you still get a chance to slow down. Any way you look at it, it’s a good proposition.

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Faith

WOW. Grab the Kleenex and Watch this Girl Sing!

Simon Cowell gives Nightbirde the Golden Buzzer

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WOW. Grab the Kleenex and Watch this Girl Sing!

Simon Cowell gives Nightbirde the Golden Buzzer after her beautiful performance of “It’s Okay.” Nightbirde chases her dreams and proves that she is so much more than her cancer!

This is a message you will want to share! Watch below:

Trending on PolitiCrossing.com: Mental Preparedness!!

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