A Minute to Think Juliet Funt
Reclaim Creativity, Conquer Busyness, and Do Your Best Work
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The author makes the case that superior results – and better mental health – come from taking time to reflect and recuperate. She draws on psychology research and cites the experiences of professionals and teams in a variety of industries. Anyone who suffers from overwhelm – and is open to the notion that being busy and being productive aren’t necessarily the same thing – can benefit from this book.
The Premise: White Space
A strategic pause means taking a moment – or longer – to think, plan, create or just breathe.
When you take a strategic pause, you stop doing things and, instead, free yourself to think, feel, ponder, plan, create, reflect, question, dream or just rest. A strategic pause introduces white space into your day that can make your visible work more productive, purposeful and innovative.
Simplify Your Life, With Pauses
A white space mindset also means simplifying your work and home life to allow time for strategic pauses.
Taking a strategic pause doesn’t mean being idle or aimless, napping, or procrastinating. Strategic pausing also differs from meditation – which is predicated on maintaining focus on a singular thing, like a mantra or your breathing – and from letting your mind wander – an activity that frequently results from distraction.
Staying Busy 24 Hours A Day
People need to take strategic pauses because overload has become prevalent.
Today, everyone – even people who live in remote places – has pressure to stay busy all the time. People no longer need a boss to crack the whip; they do it to themselves. People feel compelled to fill every gap in time with activities – listening to podcasts, checking social media, and so forth.
In the past, people considered stopping to think a valuable activity, but now, it seems odd to be doing nothing but thinking. This busyness crowds out time to digest information, consider choices, innovate and rest.
Pauses can benefit performance by allowing for cognitive recovery.
The brain – particularly the frontal lobe, responsible for higher thought – experiences cognitive fatigue, which reduces its performance. Brains need time to recuperate, and those that get enough rest function more efficiently, productively, and creatively.
A Better, Sharper Mind
Rest also gives the brain time to make connections between the frontal lobe and the regions that store memory. In studies, people who took breaks from a mental task enhanced their ability to focus over long periods of time. Workers also showed improvements in accuracy, engagement, and creativity.
The Four Time Thieves
Four “time thieves” lead people to overload themselves – the same four elements that propel people and businesses to perform. T
Time Thief No. 1
Drive transforms into overdrive – The push to do more can cause people to load themselves with work beyond their capacity. You often don’t notice the excessive stress of overdrive until you reach a crisis.
Time Thief No. 2
Commitment to excellence turns into perfectionism – Chasing excellence may seem benign, but it can lead people to spend unnecessary time and energy optimizing details. You need to remember you have a finite amount of time.
Time Thief No. 3
The pursuit of information becomes overload – The wish to be well-informed prompts people to seek information in excess of their capacity to consume it.
Time Thief No. 4
Dedication to activity turns into frenzy – The need to feel busy occurs when people conflate activity with productivity. Unchecked, this impulse can lead you to rush through work, and result in multitasking and exhaustion.
There are some thoughts you just can’t have while hustling down a hallway.
One condition fosters all these time thieves: hallucinated urgency, where it feels like everything needs immediate action. To counter hallucinated urgency, pause before you respond to requests, messages or crises, and categorize tasks according to their real urgency.
Free up time for strategic pauses by asking four questions – and apply “the Wedge.”
To neutralize the four time thieves, ask questions that target each one.
- First, ask what low-stakes or unnecessary tasks you can set aside.
- Second, ask where “good enough” is good enough.
- Third, ask what information you truly need.
- Fourth, ask what tasks or topics really deserve your attention.
The Wedge Part 2
The Wedge quickly separates two actions or experiences to uncompress them and allow the passage of oxygen.
It is a brief pause taken after completing one activity and before starting another, or before taking action on an impulse or request. – offers a simple, versatile way to introduce strategic pauses.