"Being busy does not always mean real work.  The object of
all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these
ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence,
and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is
not doing."
-- Thomas Edison
Multi-tasking at warp speed seems to be the cultural norm of the 21st century. Although I KNOW I've been concentrating, taking action and expending energy, I'm often unable to pinpoint exactly what it is that I've actually accomplished at the end of the day. I feel tired and drained without much to show for my efforts.

Recently, my wonderful coach, Tony Klingmeyer, encouraged me to try an exercise in "mindfulness". He suggested I choose a couple of days when I was going to be in one place. I was to set a kitchen timer for 2 hours, and, when it went off, simply write down in my journal what I was aware of and "present to"; in that moment. I was to repeat this pattern throughout the day. And, it wasn't enough to just observe, the value came in actually writing things down.

I assumed that by stopping to journal every 2 hours, too much distraction would come into play. My experience was just the opposite. The journaling helped me to become very aware of how I default to the distractions. The process helped me ride the waves and stay focused on the tasks I had chosen to work on during those days. I actually felt more calm, peaceful and centered as I continued the exercise. It helped me break the spiraling cycle of hectic and scattered "doing"; that was not serving me well.

If I want to change, if I want to accomplish more and keep up with my commitments to myself and others, it's up to me to make different choices about how I spend my time and manage my tasks. While sorting through the stuff on my desk during this mindfulness exercise, I became aware of how many open loops I sustain with my behavior. No wonder I'm so drained so often! It's not about creating ANOTHER system -- it's simply about doing what needs to be done consistently so that I close as many loops as possible every day.

This experience reminded me of a line from the old "M.A.S.H." television series often recited by snobby surgeon Major Charles Winchester: "I do one thing at a time, I do it extremely well, and then, when I am finished, I move on." Cultivating the consciousness of making choices and taking actions that CLOSE THE LOOPS is making a big difference in my effectiveness and productivity -- not to mention my vitality!

By Nancy Gerber, Professional Certified Coach President of Stepping Stones http://www.sstones.com
Copyright 2002 by Nancy Birnbaum-Gerber.
All rights reserved. Used with permission.
What a great concept, doing what needs to be done consistently!

This week:

1. Use the systems you have in place. Do not add any new ones.
2. Become aware of the distractions that can derail you.
3. Breathe deeply of the wonderful Spring air!

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April 19, 2002
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