May 5, 2015

Way more than 10 Things I do to Enlighten my everyday Work.

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Way more than 10 things I do to keep work fun, not get stressed short-term, be productive for long periods of time, not burnout longterm, & stay focused on the present moment.

1) Stretch in the morning. Meditate in the morning. Read some Dharma or missiony, inspiring stuff in the morning. Mary Oliver counts.

2) Work in a community setting. Cafés, generally, but any active co-work or office setting works. It breathes out my internal, over-focussed work. It gets me moving every 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 minutes. I talk with human beings I don’t work with and invariably the banter or real questions gets me to come back from my thoughts and stress to a place where I can process said stress. “How are you,” they might ask. The first time I reply, I might just grunt and shrug and oy-vey. The next time I’m asked I might say, “Good, overall! But hard—this whole…web site redesign process is killing me. It’s a year late and we’re 30,000 bucks in the hole and we don’t have that kind of money…” and before you know it I’m communicating, again, I’m human, again. I’m processing my challenges and therefore able to gain spontaneous relaxation and then insight in how to proceed. Ideas, insights, are the stuff entrepreneurship and successful business is made of.

3) I eat right. Okay…often, I fail to eat at all. But when I eat, I eat real food, simple food, less than say 5 ingredients, with no/minimal plastic packaging (i.e. it’s often local, or fresh). And simple real food needn’t be expensive. See: Chipotle, or bulk aisles, or packing a salad or bringing along an apple instead of a Clif Bar that’s got more vaguely-healthy crap in it than a vaguely-healthy cookie. Basically: boycott plastic and you’ll wind up eating better, fresher.

4) I bike. It’s the ultimate convertible. Fresh air! Community waving at you! It opens up my eyes and heart and calms my over-caffeinated nerves. Even if you work far off you can bike > bus > bike. Free VIP parking, every time! Work out while commuting! Commuting becomes the highlight of my day, instead of something that kills my joy. PS: walking counts, boom. If you don’t or can’t bike or walk, make sure—particularly right before and after work—to get even a few moments of outdoor-time—breath, open sky, movement, transition.

5) I play very little music. Don’t fill the space. When I do play music, it’s something lyric-less, usually, because I’m often writing or communicating. I play something that makes my life better. You can do the same. I put all my favorite songs in one place, so I have them. Lately, my two favorites have been Beethoven’s Symphony 7, Allegretto, movement 2…and lest you think I’m sophisticated or something, my other fave has been the YouTube 10 hours straight of Inception Theme. It’s Rocky-like motivational powers are not to be underestimated. Blaaaaaaaawh.

6) Going along with the last one, I don’t fill the space. If I come to a red light, I don’t get my phone out, or try to find something in my bag, or rush through the red light when there’s a gap. Instead, I look at the sky, at trees, at buildings, at whatever—with real intent to appreciate or at least see it. Space is where insight may occur and neurosis may resolve—protect it. Nurture it. As Trungpa Rinpoche once observed, we Americans are very good at doing something, everything, but not no-thing. The only time when we chill (back in the 70s, when he said this) is when we’re on the passenger side on a road trip. Now, of course, we’d be Facebooking or iPhoning or Tindering or whatever.

7) Exercise. Whether it’s a walk or climbing or yoga or a dog hike or, you know, three hours of sex, do something every day. Get the heart rate moving. Often, in the morning, I’ll go for a jog with my dog—for five or ten minutes. Just long enough for him to pee on every tree and go pooh. That’s okay. Short bursts are great, just as with meditation—five minutes is sooooo good and worthwhile. We all have time for five minutes of something good for us. Or at least, c’mon, a headstand or shoulderstand or something. It clears the mind and resets our body’s comfort level.

8) Don’t multi-task. Do one thing fully at a time. If someone comes up to chat, close your laptop. If someone starts to talk to you, ask them to wait if you’re finishing something. Don’t try to multi-task. Don’t try to multi-task. Do one thing fully at a time. Breathe. Multi-tasking makes us dumbber.

Okay, a few specifics.

9) Sleep 7 hours a night. Or more. NY Times reported last year that sleeping too little literally makes us stupider. Want to be a great entrepreneur or business person? Sleep. Can’t get to sleep? Meditate first, and dedicate the merit of your day. Close out your day formally, but with a sense of appreciation, not uptightness.

10) I leave my iPhone face down whenever I’m working. I can always check it when I need to.

11) I work so that I have some window or natural light facing me, always. Nature, or something close to it, is a helpful reference point if I’m aiming to maintain sanity and inspiration.

12) I wear a hat low down over my face if I’m trying to focus—it helps let folks know that I’m not available for random conversation. Many of you wear headphones in the same way.

13) I’m not above silly dancing if a fun song comes on. Shake it out! Even just dancing a little in my chair brings back a sense of humor and being in my body. Shake those shoulders!

14) If I have a gap, I play with my dog. He needs it, and (as the NY Times reported just recently) staring at a cutey dog is great for our self-esteem…or something like that.

15) When I drink my hippie (almond milk) cortado, I don’t work at the same time. I appreciate whatever I’m doing—then I don’t need to redo it.

16) Don’t fidget. Fidgeting is, in Buddhist thought, a sign of fear, or nervous energy…a basic unwillingness to relax fully into our present moment. Don’t try to be perfect about this—the point is not to get uptight, here. Just stop every time you notice. It also could be a sign that you just need to get outside and run around or exercise—that you have too much energy.

17) Most friends think I’m weird, but I set my iPhone and laptop font settings to pretty darned big. That way, if I work 8 – 16 hours a day, my eyes never strain. Strained eyes lead to a strained neck leads to agony. As Buddhists say, 50% of our state of mind is determined by our posture—so don’t let your body get tense and crooked.

18) I dress for the occasion: so if I’m feeling insecure, I might wear something stable and solid or strong…that kind of thing. If I need to inject humor or some icebreaker into a situation I know I’m heading into, I’ll wear a dorky shirt with some message on it. I think we all do that, but it’s a good thing. I wear well-fitting, non-baggy clothes—this helps me encourage to sit up straight, keep good, relaxed posture.

20) I take off my shoes when entering my home—forcing a moment of slowing down, pausing, transition. Transition, as in “the Buddhist bow,” allows us to enter into a situation fully with a fresh state of mind.

21) The bow:

Okay, this might all be obvious. But obvious is often obvious because it’s trustworthy.


The Eight Basic Salves for Burn-Out.

A few best mindful business books:

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