Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Productive Power of The Pause

by Maureen L. Bonatch 
January is a magical time of renewal for many people. A time to think about the year ahead and all the fabulous tasks we aim to accomplish. Whether it's to lose weight, finish writing or reading a book, or exercising more, we jump in the year envisioning how much different, or better, our lives will be by December.

I’ve set goals and resolutions many times over the years, and usually don’t succeed at meeting all my high expectations. This year I’m doing something a little different. Some people make resolutions. Others choose a focus word for the year. I’ve never chosen a focus word, but last year, one chose me.

Don’t Keep Swimming—Tread Water

I could summarize last year for me in one word, overwhelm. I accomplished many things, but barely had time to stop and appreciate them because I rushed to start the next task. Many of us (myself included) take great pride in crossing off To-do lists only to write a new list for the next day like hamsters on a wheel. Often we end up going nowhere if we don’t take the time to focus.

Not Next Month, Not Tomorrow—Now

Instead of rushing through each hour, day and month, I plan to just push pause. To take the time to be aware of the little things that help create the desired productivity results

Although mindfulness can be challenging, and sometimes feel impossible, when there are so many things going through our thoughts.

There are things we can do to help induce a state of awareness such as yoga or meditation. Although sometimes we might end up performing these relaxation techniques while we’re still thinking about what we need to do once we are finished because we can’t pause our thoughts. Although I do think there is one activity that can encourage quieting our thoughts—reading.

Pause Your Thoughts With Reading

Often people say that if they try to read at bedtime they fall asleep. Somehow the power of a good story conquers restless thoughts and pushes them to the back of our mind as we escape to another world. 

Perhaps this is the year to make reading more of a priority. It may help problems become less important when we spend a little time away from our reality and escape to a fantasy world with characters that we love so we can return refreshed and be more productive.

Practicing mindfulness through reading, or other methods that help to pause and focus our thoughts on the here and now, might help the rest of the things that make us happy start falling into place this year.

Take Your Foot Off the Brake

Once you’ve slowed your thoughts to focus on your goals in the moment instead of long term you might pause to:
  • Consider what you were going to eat —does this meet your weight-loss/healthy eating goals?
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator— move a little more & get those extra steps
  • Return to re-write that last paragraph—revive that stalled story
  • Read another chapter of that book—then return to your tasks refreshed
  • Gain the courage to just say no to the tasks diminishing your productivity

Create a Balance

Most of society moves at a fast pace and many people worry about the fear of missing out on something if we don’t hurry to keep up. Often this rapid pace leads to us feeling a bit frazzled and at the end of the day and wondering where the time went. 

Don’t settle or wait for next year, next month—or never—to focus on what makes you happy. Pause each day to determine what you want to do instead of what you should do each day to be more productive in making your hopes and dreams a reality.

What Will Make 2018 a Year You Love? 

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four
seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter


Diane Burton said...

This is a great post, Maureen. Something we all need to hear. It's gotten to be almost a cliche to say life is a journey not a destination. That we need to enjoy that journey. I love to read. Since the day is filled with writing, household chores, etc. I read before i got to sleep. I find it relaxing and it clears my mind of the daily grind. Sort of a mental "Calgon, take me away."

Maureen said...

Thanks Diane! I couldn't agree more :) I appreciate you stopping by.

S.K. Dubois said...

Very timely! "Overwhelm' was my word for 2017 also. I spent a lot of time putting out fires and not much time in fire prevention :) Thanks for the excellent suggestions and the reminder to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Francesca Quarto said...

Hi Maureen and thanks for the good advise. Balance in our daily lives is truly as important as breathing to a healthy, sane life. For instance, I just left off my vacuuming so that I might post this. Thanks so much; I needed a mental health break. I was dangerously close to wearing an apron and listening to Yani!

Francesca Q.

Nancy Gideon said...

Very insightful . . . and thought provokingly needed at this time of year. Have a good one, Maureen!