Need More Clarity, Creativity and Focus?

woman writing in journalI am finding this time of the year, end of summer leading into fall, particularly overwhelming. The year is more than half over (can that possibly be?) and my intentions and goals are way behind where I wanted them to be. There are multiple events and of course the usual fall holiday anticipations to consider and prepare for. What about you?

If you ever experience times of overwhelm – when you have so many things you would like to accomplish in any/all areas of life – consider this routine.  I found an article, “This 10-Minute Routine Will Increase Your Clarity and Creativity” which provides a way to both focus and to boost creativity.

The author Benjamin Hardy reminds us of Napoleon Hill’s words, “Your subconscious mind works continuously, while you are awake, and while you sleep.”  If that is the reality, it may be a really good idea to focus that work for our benefit.  How does that work? Hardy again quotes Hill: “The subconscious mind will translate into its physical equivalent, by the most direct and practical method available.”

Sounds like a good idea to me, then, to harness that power. Part of the routine described in the article has to do with using a few minutes before you go to bed and within 10 or so minutes of waking up to do the suggested activities.  For many of us, checking our electronic devices fill that space both before bed and first thing in the morning.  As we do that, we are focusing on input into our thoughts and consciousness.  This approach instead puts our attention to output from our subconscious to our conscious in a targeted way. It expands our creativity.

Try This Routine

To summarize the two parts of the routine, Hardy suggests we:

  1. “Take a few moments before you go to bed to meditate on and write down the things you’re trying to accomplish. Ask yourself loads of questions related to that thing….make some ‘requests.’ Write those questions and thoughts down on paper. The more specific the questions, the more clear will be your answers.
  2. “Now, first thing in the morning, when your creative brain is most attuned, after its subconscious workout while you slept, start writing down whatever comes to mind about those things.”

You can include any areas of your life – relationships, work, life balance, or anything else you want to address. Perhaps start with one topic. This approach is a routine and also a skill to develop and in which to become proficient. As with all routines or habits, it is a good idea to commit to practicing it for a minimum of 21 days in order to assess its effectiveness for you. I would love to hear how this works for you! 

For more details, you can read the entire article here:  “This 10-Minute Routine Will Increase Your Clarity and Creativity”

And you can see the books Benjamin Hardy has written here: Books by Benjamin Hardy, PhD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Celebrate Books for Opening Vistas

Reading Journal Cover

(Get your Reading Journal here: http://carolbrusegar.com/Reading Journal for Book Lovers)

I LOVE to read! Do you? Reading has always been a favorite pastime for me. As a child, I attended a rural one-room school and we had one large bookcase of books to read. What I remember best is reading each of the biographies – a series of books with orange covers. The stories of people in different situations and historical periods fascinated me. We also used the library in our nearby small town and I recall checking out books including Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and earlier the Flicka, Ricka and Dicka series. Do any of those ring a bell with you?

As I moved into high school and even more so in college and young adulthood, I read non-fiction almost exclusively. Books about current events, theology and history primarily. My interests went in those directions because I moved from living in small town/rural in southern Wisconsin into inner city communities in Chicago and Minneapolis – in the mid-1960s and beyond. With the great societal change occurring during those years, there was so much to learn about. My deep involvement in an inner city church and related social justice efforts led me to reading theology books. It wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that I began regularly reading fiction, especially historical fiction, along with an expanded variety of nonfiction books. I wish that I had written down what books I read over the years, but I didn’t. I do know that the reading I did shaped my understanding and the directions I went in my life in dramatic ways.

Have you kept lists? What kind of patterns, if any, do you see in your reading habits over the years? Can you see significance in those patterns?

Since finding Goodreads.com a few years ago, I have used it as an easy tool for recording the books I am reading. Using their Reading Challenge to set a goal for number of books I will read in a year has been both fun and motivating. Having access to reviews, ratings, suggestions a way to keep track of books I want to read is wonderful.

I still had a desire for a book in my hands where I can record other things. I wanted to identify books both that I have read and want to read by genre. And I wished to have in one volume notes, quotes and reflections on some books I especially value. This could be a reference and a treasure for me in the future.

So I designed a reading journal that met those criteria! If you see a value in such a tool and treasure, I invite you to check out my newly published Reading Journal – For Book Lovers Who Take Their Reading Seriously.
The link will take you to Amazon.com where you can read more and preview the journal.  It is a handy, portable 6″ x 9″ size.Reading Journal Cover

Happy Reading!!

Day Trips: Including Getaways and Mini-Vacations in Your Plans

car on highwayDay trips are often scheduled into a vacation week in a distant location – you spend one day at a location away from your primary base for the week. But day trips can be a year-round adventure right from our homes. We often have more time for them during summer when there aren’t as many regular activities scheduled on weekends. In fact, they can augment summer vacations, or even substitute for them when there are multiple people’s schedules to accommodate.

Strategically planned and scheduled day trips can provide many of the benefits of vacation: change of scenery, breaking the routine, exploring something totally new, trying out different foods or activities, and more. They also are more affordable than vacations that require greater transportation costs and hotel or motel stays.

Day trips provide a way to try out something new without committing too much time or money. For example, one person may be excited about a seven-day tour of Civil War monuments and battle fields that is available in a few months. Another person may have never visited anything of that kind and is very hesitant. A day trip to a nearby battle sight or cemetery would be a great way to assess if a seven-day tour would be enjoyable to both parties.

Regardless of your stage in life or family configuration, there are day trip options. In many cities and towns, churches, organizations for seniors, and other groups provide day trips for older people. They do all the planning and provide the bus or van transportation for a reasonable charge. It’s a great way to spend time with a friend or two and you can meet and even develop ongoing relationships with other people.

Research, Lists and Notes

Most people drive their own cars and make their own plans for each day trip. Have you ever had the impulse to get out of the house for the day (or an overnight) and then been at a loss as to what to do or where to go? You may have ended up just staying home being bored. What if you had a list of possible things to do at your fingertips from which you could choose a perfect activity or destination for that day?

Take some time to research types of day trips you would enjoy and create an ongoing list of specific destinations and activities. You can continually expand it as you discover more possibilities. This will make it much more likely that you will both take more spontaneous trips and schedule others in advance.

To get you started, here are some categories of places to go and things to do on a day trip:

Outdoor Activities and Exploration – scenic locations of all kinds, activities like fishing, horseback riding
Historic and Cultural Destinations – explore the history of your area
Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
Shopping – flea markets, antique malls, vineyards with winetasting, Amish or International Markets
Using Different Modes of Transportation – take a train ride, boat cruise, hot air balloon ride
Scheduled Events – sports, outdoor fairs, concerts

Having a designated notebook or planner to collect information and make plans can make it more likely that you will take more trips for relaxation, enjoyment and learning. It can also be fun to journal about your experiences

Perhaps you would be interested in my Planner & Journal for Day Trips: Getaways and Mini-Vacations which is available on Amazon.com as a 8×10” paperback.Cover of Planner & Journal

Giggs, Side Hustles and Second/Third Jobs

Side Hustle - Uber

People have been working second jobs forever. As economic conditions change, fewer or more may be engaged in them to augment their main income source. What that looks like and who is involved also changes. Most often the part time jobs people take on are to augment an income that isn’t enough to support themselves and/or their families. Do you now or have you in the past worked a second job? Are you considering or looking for one now? You may get some ideas or inspiration here.

A recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper gives a current snapshot of the phenomenon with examples from the Twin Cities. Author Kevyn Burger, in “From Millennials to Seniors, Twin Cities Workers Embrace ‘Side Hustle’ Economy, cites a 2018 survey by Bankrate that found that 37 percent of Americans have “side gigs.” She notes:

Some pick up cash through the ever-expanding array of internet platforms, logging on and landing on-demand service work – driving, delivering, walking dogs, tutoring, running errands, cleaning or babysitting. Others rely on their creativity and connections to cash in on their marketable skills….While there have always been temps, moonlighters and freelancers, the sheer number of people involved in what economists call the ‘contingent labor force’ represents a shift in how Americans make a living, according to Sarah Kessler, author of Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work.

The motivation or need for taking on part time work varies by population group. From millennials to seniors, there are reasons to explore moneymaking options. They range from funding desired luxury items or activities to paying off college loans to keeping active and involved and many more.

Whether you call it a second job, a side hustle, a gig, or anything else, this is a thriving part of the economy. Read the entire article at Side Hustle Economy

A review of Sarah Kessler’s book Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work says:

“With deep reporting and graceful storytelling, Sarah Kessler reveals the ground truth of a key part of the American workforce. Her analysis is both astute and nuanced, making GIGGED essential reading for anyone interested in the future of work.” —Daniel H. Pink, author of WHEN and DRIVE

 

The Best Gift?

gathering
During this part of the year, regardless of what holiday(s) you are celebrating, the chances are good that you will be gathering with people in some context. Perhaps it is with family, friends, or even work colleagues in a different context than normal. You may be traveling and meeting people in airplanes, trains or buses and conversations begin.

Some of us dread or look forward to the conclusion of such encounters – at least with some of the people with whom we will be gathering.
How many times have you been bored with the level of conversation – kids, ailments, complaints, weather – those mundane topics? What did you do? Shrink into a corner with one person with whom you could discuss at least one interesting topic? Volunteer to help in the kitchen or run to get a missing item from the store? Simply walk around, nodding and engaging in very brief exchanges and moving on?

It was intriguing to find Kathryn P. Haydon’s approach in an article which encourages us to facilitate connection with others and poses this question: “What if the best gift we can give is to ask more meaningful questions?”

Kathryn encourages us to start by getting into a curiosity mindset and “think about what ideas, patterns, or topics spark your curiosity and try to connect these to the people you are going to see.” Ask a question about something you know about that person, and then follow-up questions that will deepen the conversation. Her favorite follow-up questions begin with “What might be all the…..”

This kind of conversation helps you connect with individuals and makes them feel that you value and understand them. Isn’t that what we all want? Hopefully, people will ask you questions in return and before you know it, you are really enjoying the gathering you were not so excited about. In addition, there will be more to look forward to the next time you see these people. It’s a win-win.

Looking Back and Moving Forward


As one year ends and another begins, we have an opportunity to pause and decide how we want the next twelve months to be different than the past twelve.  Or perhaps this year has been incredible in every way for you and you want to increase the likelihood that this year will be equally good. We don’t always have to make things different; we want to enjoy what we experienced again. Constantly pushing for better, bigger, more flashy can be exhausting and not at all fulfilling.

The year end/year beginning hoopla is artificial at one level, but generations of people have used this time to intentionally decide on directions rather than flow from one month to the next, one year to the next, and one decade to the next. If the past year was not one of your happiest, most productive, most fulfilled, you may be especially thinking about how to turn things in other directions.  In fact, if that is the case, I encourage you to use some of the great ideas and strategies that are being promoted all around us to design your fresh start.

If you had a great year, reflect on what it made it that way and how to sustain or even boost the reality to another level.

For many of us, we are completing neither a particularly challenging year nor a spectacular year.  It was somewhere in between. Depending on your attitude and aspirations, you may either continue along the same paths or decide you want to change some things that will boost your overall experience.

Often a tool or strategy can get us going on a process that we have thought about but not really begun. A Year-End Review Journal is one of those tools.  Print it out and set aside some time – one extended period, or spread out over a few days – to respond to the questions that will help you reflect on the past twelve months.  The questions help you to think beyond the obvious events or high/lowlights to some meanings and what was significant. These will move you toward setting some priorities, parameters, intentions and plans for the coming year.

Please provide your name and email address in the box above so you can get this digital download and start the process. I hope you enjoy it and find it beneficial!!

Reduce Overwhelm Fog With 10 Minute Tasks

ListTo-do lists, planners, planning pages – hard copy or electronic – are tools we use to manage the many details of our lives. The more segments of our lives there are, the more things there are to remember and to do. Home, school, work, volunteer commitments, side business, personal care and development… and more. Sometimes it is all pretty overwhelming. All of these things cause us to experience overwhelm fog.

There are major projects and undertakings that we need to do over weeks or months as well as simple tasks that are urgent and lots in between. The major projects have many smaller parts and tasks that ideally will be spread over time to avoid last minute overload, panic and less-than-ideal quality. How do you deal with all of this?

Are you someone who adopted a system of keeping track of and accomplishing things years ago, found that it worked at least adequately and have continued to use it to the present time?

Are you someone who tries different approaches and systems as you hear about them and never settle on one consistent way to operate?

Are you someone who eschews systems and may make simple lists but not much more?

Are you someone who absolutely writes down everything that you want to do and has voluminous lists all the time?

Looking at options to manage the details of life can be very beneficial to our focus and ability to feel at least moderately in control and to have some peace as we move through our busy days and weeks. There are multitudinous options available that are geared toward different people’s ways of thinking, organizing information, and even personality.

Rather than examine those major options, which is a huge undertaking, I suggest beginning with a short-term approach which can help with the tasks that really don’t take that long to do. Having a way to manage that seemingly unending volume of items, whether they are in the daily/weekly tasks that always need to be done or are steps to larger projects, can help clear the overwhelm fog.

I remember the idea of writing each of those tasks on a small slip of paper and putting them in a large jar. Then, as you have time to do a simple item or two, you reach into the jar and grab one out and get it done. I always thought that was a pretty good idea, but never actually did it.

Here’s a similar approach that I recommend, using a “10 Minute Tasks” tool. This is shorthand for tasks that are quick to do, usually 10 minutes or less. If it takes more than 10 minutes but is still brief, it can be completed. Or if once you start, it is clear that for some reason it will take longer, you can consider putting it off to when you have more time. The idea is to accomplish those short tasks and check them off. It can be amazing the impact this has on the overwhelm fog.

You can try this out with a sample journal page, which you can download and copy.  The sample also includes a list of 100 10 minute tasks to stimulate the creation of your own list.  Click here to get your samples:

10 Minute Tasks List

10 Minute Tasks Sample Sheet

Would you like the full set of pages to work with?  Email me at carol@carolbrusegar.com and request them. You can make multiple copies and use them as much as you would like.

Multi-Tasking: Is It As Beneficial as We Imagine?


multi-tasking
Multi-tasking seems to be a fact of life for most of us these days. With all there is to do, learn, and manage, it seems necessary. But as with so many other things, there are plusses and minuses; and it benefits us to consider those factors and manage our use of multi-tasking accordingly.

Does multi-tasking affect your health? It may seem like it is increasing productivity and saving you time and energy, and many of us are proud of our multi-tasking abilities. However, ongoing research has confirmed that multi-tasking can have negative effects on levels of productivity and, in some cases, of our overall brain health.

Multi-tasking Is Safe Only If Different Stimuli Are Used

Experts agree that multi-tasking is safer if the tasks involved do not use the same stimuli, such as reading a message from the laptop while listening to music. Our brain is not designed to deal with the same stimulus challenge at the exact same time.

That is why driving a vehicle and texting on a phone at the same time is considered extremely dangerous. You are using the same visual stimulus. They are both competing for the same limited focus. Although it appears you are multi-tasking, you can only be actively engaged with one or the other.

So instead of doing two things at once, you are actually rapidly switching from one to the other, and back again. If your attention is attracted to the phone for a second too long, the job of consciously controlling the vehicle ceases, and catastrophe can follow.

Another example is when you are attempting to listen to multiple conversations around you. I know I have tried to do that. But it is impossible to really listen to two people who are talking to you simultaneously, because your auditory stimulus becomes overwhelmed.

Multi-tasking Can Harm Your Memory Ability

If you find yourself multi-tasking, each task in which your mind is engaged will drain a part of your mental energy. As your mental energy drains, you become more absent-minded. This is because your mind begins to drift.

Even if you could complete the two tasks successfully, you will quite probably not recall how you completed the tasks. This is because our brain does not have the ability to fully focus on two or several tasks at the same time.

Each time you multi-task, your mind becomes a juggling act. When you multitask, you are diluting your mind’s investment towards each task.

When Multi-taskers Think They Perform Better

A study headed by Zheng Wang of Ohio State University (Multi-Tasking Study, Ohio State University)showed that people who were text messaging while being asked to focus on the images displayed on a computer monitor had decreased levels of performance.

What makes this finding even more troubling is that those subjects who were asked to multi-task using the same visual stimulus, believed they performed better, although the results showed the opposite.

Their ability to focus on images displayed on their computer monitor plummeted up to 50% even though they thought they were performing perfectly. The same study participants were asked to multi-task using different stimuli, such as visual and auditory, and even then were found to have reduced levels of performance as much as 30%.

Professor Wang stated that performance level perception when multi-tasking is not the same, as the results proved. Researchers have also found that media multi-tasking increases your risks of developing impaired cognitive control.

The most current research is confirming that multi-tasking means “performing multiple tasks sub-optimally”. Unfortunately, in addition to productivity losses, there is a compounding, taxing burden placed on the mental and emotional faculties. This results in accumulated stress, which is already a very real problem for many, if not most, to some degree.

Although technology today makes it difficult for us to avoid multi-tasking, we can manage the effect on our performance of tasks and on our health. Awareness and trying to remove the overload on your mind as much as possible can be very helpful.

There many approaches to productivity; check out some of the books available about multitasking and productivity:

Multitasking and Productivity

Transforming Your Years After 50: The Cost of Inertia

Perhaps the idea of “transforming your years after 50” – or any other major change in life –  sounds like a lot of work. Perhaps it will cost money you are trying to conserve.  Perhaps you are thinking, I can look at this closely later; reading it is interesting but doing the exercises and thinking deeply about this can wait.

My advice, my plea, is that you reconsider those thoughts.  Beware of inertia setting in.  Be alert to the tendency to slip into and stay in comfort zones which easily become ruts. Balance your desires to relax and enjoy the extra time and space you have with your desire to make this stage of your life joyful and fulfilling in new ways. They are not incompatible impulses.

Mirriam Webster Dictionary defines inertia as:

+ lack of movement or activity especially when movement or activity is wanted or needed;

+ a feeling of not having the energy or desire that is needed to move, change, etc.

Yes, relax. Yes, enjoy. YES, look at what you really want for your future.  You can do it all.  Start a step at a time. Do the exercises in the previous blog posts under the “What You Bring With You to Your Third Act” and “10 Questions to Ask Yourself to Open Possibilities” categories.

You can also consider the “Unlocking Your Ideal Self” program. Learn more about it here:

Unlocking Your Ideal Self

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What’s the biggest expense we should expect with transforming your retirement?”