Tag Archives: Free tools

Speed up to slow down

by Petra Lehner

Shailia and Pat asked me to contribute a blog post about “when to slow down and when to speed up”. Here are some of my ideas on the topic.

Today, we face  a lot of situations where one simple ability is not enough to successfully fulfill the job we have been asked to do. More and more, we are required to become multi-taskers and quick-workers. Information-overflow, workload pressure and increasingly technical and/or complex matters are commonplace these days.

The dark side of the game is that doing more and more things will cause stress, illness and emotional breakdown (best known as burn-out).

Now, as we all are coaches, no matter if we are employees, mothers, fathers, leaders, students… let’s quickly change our perspective and look to the: „what can we do“ side. And it is a sunny side!

It is easy to become a multi-tasker/quick-worker in your daily life just by training your brain to stay focused. This will lead to channeled energy and concentrated work. And the key is this:

Slow down and you will accomplish more.

While holding seminars on speed-reading, mental training and excellent learning (which is all about excellent communication with yourself!), I found out that the brain loves to learn and work quite long if it is allowed to take enough little breaks in -between.

Also important: before you start with whatever you need to do, declare what you are going to do!

Most of the time, people begin doing their work only to be interrupted by the cellphone ringing or the mailbox beeping. In an instant, concentration is gone. Instead of reconnecting after the interruption, many people start to do some new work while the first point of the schedule is still open in the unconscious mind. So there is a piling-up of activities never finished and the poor brain does not know where to focus.

Your brain loves to think fast, complex and in a big variety of colourful chaos mixed-up with structure. Yet it can only process information from one channel at a time.

Brain research has found that learning or reading while doing sports at a pulse-rate of 90 to 100 beats per minute is a real turbo-boost and happens absolutely fast and long-lasting. Try it out! If you have a home trainer or a treadmill  grab a book, watch a film or listen to a learning course. Whatever you choose, you will discover, that you have focused attention and remember almost everything after the end of the session.

Sometimes it is too much. Did you know this? You need to write an article, carry out research for a new customer, call some clients, do household chores etc. It is essential that you take a healthy rest.

If you find yourself not sleeping well, this proven, very effective and powerful tool may help: make daily notes.

Get a notebook or some lined paper and write down whatever comes to your mind for 20 minutes. Recall, reflect or just let the paper be the counterpart for your inner voice. Do not censor yourself. Just keep on writing for 20 minutes. After a couple of days you will discover a massive change. Your focus will have become clearer and stronger.

And then: take a break. Take a mind-break, a brain-break. If small but constant breaks are like a routine for you, you will have created your own mental island on which to recover at any time.

Start with a 5-minutes-break. Do nothing else but breathing. Make at least three of these 5-minute-breaks every day and schedule them!!!

If you are interested in speeding up your reading-rate, here is a little Christmas present for the readers of this blog:  Lesegeschwindigkeit erhöhen (PDF in German).

For today, take a break and enjoy the following:

Thank you for your focused attention 😉

Petra Lehner

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About Petra Lehner

Petra is a coach, trainer and book author living in Salzburg, Austria. Her areas of specialty are speed-reading, excellent learning, mental training and coaching as well as mental alignment and communication for peak performance. She works with private individuals and business clients and hold seminars on these subjects regularly.

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Further information:

MetaMind homepage: http://meta-mind.at/

Petra’s MetaMind Blog: http://meta-mind.at/Blog/index.html

Petra Lehner on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Petra_Lehner

Is it true?

Oscar WildeYesterday on “work in progress”, I posted the following quote from Oscar Wilde:

“We are all standing in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

I did so as sort of an experiment. Because I was wondering if people would react to it as strongly as I did.

Here’s what I got: Nobody “Liked” the Facebook link and no-one downloaded the attached PDF as would be the usual thing to expect for any regular post. No approval, but also no aversion. I got no reaction really.

I saw the quote (written before 1900) for the first time very recently. Here is how I reacted. At first I thought: “Ah.” And then: “Huh?” And finally: “Is it true?” After thinking about it, I noticed that this short statement made me feel downright uncomfortable and I wasn’t sure why.

Then I realized. It is one of those tricky, subtle, pseudo-positive messages that we see and hear almost every day. In the paper, on TV, in conversations with co-workers and so on. The content varies and other words are used, but the modern gist is pretty much the same. In my mind, suggestions like these rang out:

This world is in a mess, but some of us (in the West) are lucky.

+++ or +++

Life is difficult, but let’s keep our heads up.

I had to ask myself these questions:

  • How much suffering are these types of seemingly harmless suggestions and our adoption of them causing?
  • How much depression and stress are related to this type of thinking?

Byron Katiee

In her process of inquiry called “The Work“, Byron Katie recommends we question our own thinking and ask ourselves four basic questions. She concludes the process with a so-called “turnaround“.

On her homepage “The Work” (http://www.thework.com) she elaborates:

  1. “Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it is true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?
  5. Turn it around (the concept you are questioning), and don’t forget to find genuine, specific examples of each turnaround. Each turnaround is an opportunity to experience the opposite of your original statement…”

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Let’s turn around Byron Katie’s process – because I find it fun and inspiring to use it in both directions…

First the turnarounds:

“We are all standing in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” can be turned around to:

  • We are all standing in the stars, but many of us choose to look into the gutter.
  • Some of us are standing in the gutter, but we are all stars among men.

“This world is in a mess,but some of us (in the West) are lucky” turns around to:

  • The world is as it should be, but some of us are unlucky not to see it.
  • Luckily, the world is always perfectly arranged.

“Life is difficult, but let’s keep our heads up” can be turned around to:

  • Life is easy, but we keep putting our heads down.
  • It’s hard to keep our heads up when we make life so difficult.

or maybe just simply…

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

And now ask yourself the following questions:

  1. “Is it true? [that life is beautiful]
  2. Can you absolutely know that it is true? [write a list of evidence if you have to]
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be with the thought?

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Now I am going to modify yesterday’s post. It practically gave me a bodily allergic reaction to post it – ha, ha. I hope I receive a reaction from some of you this time, if only in your own minds.

Until we meet again,

Shailia

P.S. Add a “turnaround” of your own in the comment field below, if you think of one.

T for TODAY

mess in the living room

Me: “I am only going to count to ten: 1, 2, 3 … Clean up your mess in the living room. Now! We had an agreement about this.”

My son: “Just a minute, Mom. Right after I’ve finished the painting.”

Me: “You said that yesterday. And you said the same thing this morning after breakfast. I want you to do it now! There will be no further discussions about it.”

While I’m discussing the same annoying thing over and over again with my son, my mind wanders back to my personal to-do’s for today. There are piles of paper on my desk and a package waiting for me at the post office. I have an unanswered message from a good friend on my cell phone. She’s not feeling well. Could I please call her back a.s.a.p.?

As I’m loading the dishwasher I begin to balance my priorities. The package can wait until tomorrow. The papers can be tackled later. So, I decide to call my friend first. She picks up mid-ring of ring one – obviously sitting on her phone, waiting for me to call. The case seems urgent.

“To make a long story short, he’s an asshole.” she blurts out. “I shouldn’t have picked him up last night.”

Oh no, not again” I think to myself and sit down on the sofa ready for a long and compassionate phone call.

Me (trying to comfort her): “Don’t blame yourself. This won’t help.”

She (now on the verge of tears): “Why do I always make the same mistake over and over again?”

She continues on and while I’m half-way listening, my mind is searching for an intervention – some sensible doorway to help her exit out of WHY mode. In my experience, this three-letter question rarely ever solves problems. So, I consider asking her the unbelievably brilliant WHAT FOR? This seven-letter alternative usually helps in switching from blame to creatorship. But then I hear myself asking her this instead:

“When is the exact point in time you are really going to change your decision about him?”

She stops crying and thoughtfully mumbles: “I don’t know. I thought I already had. But obviously, I didn’t. I guess I need a re-start on this one.”

You see, given the choice, our minds generally choose tomorrow as the earliest possible starting point for dealing with a re-start, a goal or an intention. And for the change-resistent brain, tomorrow is simply a synonym for “doing it later”.

On this typical morning in my life, I had encounters with three people whose brains had decided to do things later:

  • My son: Between you and me, he still hasn’t cleaned up his mess.
  • Myself:  As I write this post at the end of the day, my pile of papers is still waiting to be sorted.
  • My friend: Her approach was more like, “Starting tomorrow, I will do it differently.”

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Sound familiar?

Most of us have, at one point, decided to start a diet tomorrow or a new exercise program next Monday (next week, after Christmas etc.) And certainly, there are enough methods, trainings and books about how to overcome your weaker self.

todayRecently, I decided to add a simple feature to the goal coaching sessions I have with my coachees. It doesn´t replace the process you need to create new and fulfilling results in your life, but it might help you to stay on track.

At the end of the session I hand out a simple piece of paper which has a single word written on it: TODAY.

I invite my clients to put it wherever they can see it and to look at it at least once in the morning and once in the evening.

I have one of my own and it is a nice and simple reminder for me to start transforming a certain behavior now – instead of tomorrow or whenever. To finish something immediately instead of next week. To clear up a problem before going to bed. Or simply to be grateful for everything that happened TODAY.

Here is how I like to think about time:

  1. Things from the past don’t matter – except in the context of how you are re-experiencing and utilizing them in your memory right now.
  2. Worrying about the future is a waste of time. Everything that will happen in the future is a result of an intent you are creating or living in this moment.
  3. Therefore, all that truly matters are the things you are doing (or omitting) TODAY.

I invite you to use TODAY as an easy point of entry.

Yours,

Pat

P.S.: Need some inspiration for things that could be done today? I know it’s quite an old one, but I love listening to it from time to time…

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Free tool: Today