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Want to be more patient on and off the job Try Mindlessness

Want to be more patient on and off the job? Try Mindlessness

Photo by Thomas Kinto on Unsplash

A toy car raced towards me. I thought it was a toy until I saw it was balancing a glass bowl filled with popcorn. I snapped at my six year old ‘What are you doing? The bowl can fall and break.’ My daughter replied, ‘I prepared a snack for you. You must be hungry.’ At that moment, I resented my quick judgment.

Do you wish that your work stress doesn’t lead to an outburst at your family?

Do you wish you could handle stress better on and off work, be collected and calm even under fire?

Do you wish that you had more energy to play with your kids? Do you want to spend some quality time with them every day after work?

Do you wish that you could compartmentalize your brain? For example, when playing the role of a mom, you could be a mom, and when an employee, you could turn off all the maternal instincts?

Juggling these roles and transitioning from one to another is exhausting and unsettling. Unsettling because we constantly feel that we aren’t doing enough justice to any role. Humanly, it seems almost impossible to do it all.

What if I told you that I had found a trick that worked splendidly for me and it could work for you too!

I deliberately started taking 5 minutes’ me’ time between significant transitions. It could be before stepping out of my car for work, after work, before entering the home, before bedtime, or whenever I felt the need for it!

In this ‘me’ time, I decided to do nothing. NOTHING at all. I’m sure you know how big a deal that is! These 5 minutes were exclusively MY time.

On some days, I caught myself gazing at the windshield.

At times I used breathing exercises to help me get centered and ready for the next role.

Sometimes I was in the mood to take a short walk and do some walking meditation.

This strategy worked so well for me that I had to find out why this method worked? Here’s what I found:

When we are ‘idling,’ we are preparing ourselves for a future burst of creativity. When our conscious mind shuts off, our unconscious mind gets activated. This might explain stories of famous people coming up with the most revolutionary ideas when doing seemingly mundane activities like bathing or strolling.

While multi-tasking is a norm today, neuroscientists have identified this activity as very expensive for our brain to fuel ‘glucose.’ When doing ‘nothing,’ we save that fuel for activities that deserve it.

In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport explains the ‘attention residue’ phenomenon. When we switch from meeting to meeting or one task to another, there is residue from the first task. This residue impacts the performance of the second task for a non-trivial amount of time. “Me” time can help bring the previous task to a complete closure before moving on to the next one for better performance.

According to a distinguished professor at INSEAD — Kets de Vries, “Being constantly busy is often an excuse to avoid uncomfortable feelings and thoughts.” ‘Me’ time could help address those disturbing thoughts and feelings instead of shoving them away. The unconscious mind gets a chance to reflect on the previous events and develop creative solutions to any problems.

In other words, short breaks between tasks help prepare your unconscious mind to:

– Find creative solutions for future tasks

– Reflect on past tasks, emotions, and experiences

– Allow the brain to switch from one task to another altogether.

Mindlessness is not a waste of time.

It prepares us to be sprinter making interrupted but deliberate moves towards the target rather than running a marathon with no clear finish line.

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