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19 Jun

Stop, look, listen and smell

Datum: 2017-06-19 16:19

One of the goals of being and work­ing struc­tured is that we to a greater extent do the right thing at the right time, and spend the right amount of time on the right task. The one who acts con­scious­ly and choos­es what to work on and when, will be much more suc­cess­ful than he who acts reac­tive­ly and does what­ev­er comes his way or is call­ing for his attention.

Spin­ning out of hand
When things are busy, which we all know they can get, it is easy to lose grip of our struc­ture and con­scious pri­or­i­ti­za­tion and solve all kinds of sit­u­a­tions and tasks on the fly. Since we then in the heat of the moment might do things that could, or should, be done lat­er and thus post­pone tasks that actu­al­ly have a high­er pri­or­i­ty, but which just did not call for our atten­tion like that oth­er task, more of our tasks will become urgent before we get around to doing them.

This in turn means that our life becomes even more intense, hec­tic and stress­ful as the pace picks up and the work­load increas­es. This is def­i­nite­ly when we will want to regain focus and clear our minds so that we can make bet­ter deci­sions and pri­or­i­tize in such a way that we are grate­ful lat­er on for hav­ing pri­or­i­tized like we did.

Focus for civil­ians as well
A while back I found a sim­ple tech­nique we can use to regain focus and clear­ing our minds when every­thing is spin­ning fast and we are being much more reac­tive than we would like. Jer­ry Har­ri­son, who has a past in the US army, described how they often took a SLLS-break out in the field — mean­ing a Stop-Look-Lis­ten-Smell-break. This sim­ple exer­cise made them more acute­ly aware of the sit­u­a­tion they were in and what rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion they had avail­able right in front of them that was worth notic­ing. And just like that, they had regained their focus and men­tal presence.

I tried the method myself the oth­er day. As I want­ed to get a whole bunch of things done while sit­ting on an air­plane but my mind was rac­ing in all direc­tions, I stopped, looked around, listen and smelled. I took a SLLS-break, if you will. And I liked it. Instant­ly my mind fell silent, I felt sharp­er, calm and what do you know, focused. Per­haps this method will do you some good as well.

Try it
If you feel com­pelled to, try tak­ing a SLLS-break as well. Right now.

What did you expe­ri­ence? Do you feel refreshed? If it felt good, you could for instance begin tak­ing SLLS-breaks through­out your day. Three pos­si­ble ways to intro­duce the method come to mind right now:

  • Set a reminder to take a SLLS-break every hour, or every oth­er hour.
  • Take a spon­ta­neous SLLS-break when you notice the stress lev­el ris­ing. You always have time for a one-minute-break, even if you have a lot going on.
  • Make it a habit of always tak­ing a SLLS-break when­ev­er you pause after work­ing for those 25 min­utes that con­sti­tute a pomodoro”, if you are a fan of the Pomodoro-method.
  • Or, do some­thing else that suits you better.

Gen­tly realigning
If you are any­thing like myself when it comes to this, you will find that this short lit­tle break eas­i­ly refo­cus­es you when­ev­er you need to realign and become more present in the moment. Instead of scur­ry­ing off in the wrong direc­tion” and make one wrong choice after anoth­er, you will gath­er your thoughts and con­scious­ly deter­mine where you are head­ing with­out being too harsh on your­self. It will be eas­i­er to stick to what you decid­ed to work on at the moment, even if you are doing some­thing uncom­fort­able or bor­ing. It is a tremen­dous­ly sim­ple trick that is def­i­nite­ly worth try­ing, if you ask me.

Any oth­er tips or tricks?
What tricks do you use to touch ground again, regain focus and gath­er your thoughts when you are stressed and feel­ing scat­tered? Leave a com­ment and share.