Using the Pomodoro Technique to Help You Accomplish More

Are you looking for strategies and techniques to be more efficient and productive? Many of us are managing more and/or different responsibilities than we were a year ago. Things continue to change. Are you looking for new things to try that will make things just work better as you go about your daily life?  Check out the Pomodoro Technique for managing time and increasing productivity. Perhaps you have never heard of it, or perhaps it’s something you tried in the past. It may be beneficial to circle back around to see if it is useful in your present situation – or if it is new to you, try it out.

The Pomodoro Technique is a popular and long-used (for over 30 years) approach that utilizes alternating periods of work and short breaks to maximize how much you get done each day. Each work period is called a pomodoro, from the Italian word for ‘tomato.’ Francescco Cirillo created the technique as a university student and named it after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used. (Thus the graphic at the top if this post!)

The concept doesn’t sound too earth-shattering, but its structure is effective and many people find they feel surprisingly good at the end of the day – rather than feeling exhausted at the end of a day of productivity.

The basic technique or pattern is 25 minutes of work and a five-minute break. After four cycles of this, you take a longer 30-minute break.

Taking regular breaks gives your brain a chance to relax and reset. Knowing that you only have to work for a short period of time makes it much easier to stay engaged and motivated. What could be simpler?

The technique works well with intellectual, manual, and creative tasks. You can use it for housework, homework and studying, as well as many job-related tasks. You’ll find that you can accomplish much more in 25 minutes than you ever thought. The Pomodoro Technique will also enhance your ability to focus and concentrate.

Tips for Effectively Using the Pomodoro Technique

Utilize a timer. It’s a mistake to keep one eye on the clock while you’re trying to get your work done. Use a timer and position it so you co see if can’t see it. You can use your cell phone, computer, or a physical timer.

  • There are several specialized programs and apps for your computer or cell phone available online. They incorporate your work time, break time, and longer breaks. Search for “pomodoro productivity timer.”
  • The use of a timer is critical. It provides a sense of urgency and the knowledge that you’ll get a break soon. See how much you can get done in 25 minutes. You’ll be surprised.

Experiment with different intervals. Many people thrive with the traditional schedule of 25 minutes of work alternated with five-minute rest breaks. Others do well with 50 minutes of work and 10-minute breaks. See which works best for you. Consider trying other options, too. You may find that certain tasks work better with longer or shorter intervals. It’s important to experiment and be flexible in your approach.

Ensure that you take a longer break every two hours. This can be 15-30 minutes in length. It’s a good idea to move around. Get a drink of water or take a short walk. Avoid skipping this longer break. It will really pay off later in the day! You’ll have more energy and maintain your ability to focus.

Avoid distractions. Part of the effectiveness of the technique is from focusing intently on the task at hand. You’ll have a quick break in just a few minutes, so keep your mind on track. Let others know you don’t want to be disturbed. Remember, you’re not doing anything but your work for the next 25 minutes

That’s all there is to it. Give the Pomodoro Technique a try for a few days and compare how much you get done, and how good you feel, to your normal day. See if you find it effective and feel more refreshed at the end of the day as many people do.

Tools and More Information

The Pomodoro Technique is a straightforward approach; yet there are tools to facilitate its success for you. As noted above, phone apps are available. Some advocate using a physical timer rather than a phone app.  Simple kitchen timers can work and there are timers specifically designed for this purpose – like cube timers. Check out the options here: https://amzn.to/36jIX57 Books with more information and planners are available there also.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steps to Control the Email Monster

Perhaps you manage your emails well, but I struggle with that. It seems that there are emails, emails everywhere. I have multiple email addresses which complicates the situation. As we begin a new year, I want to once and for all manage them better by taking steps to control the email monster.

First, a look at the challenge. I know that being curious and an information hoarder is one of the factors in my own email overload. There are so many email lists that address topics that interest me in all aspects of my life – health, business, personal development, politics and current events, etc. I’m always interested in learning more. Thus the numbers of subscriptions increase regularly and more emails appear in my inbox. I have found some suggestions and have identified some to implement now.

Initial Steps

The first step I took was to delete emails that are outdated. Now this may not be something you would EVER do, but I had hundreds of thousands of emails – yes, it’s true – going back 2-1/2 years in my primary email box. Most were dated material. I sorted by date and just deleted the oldest ones without really looking at them. Then I did a quick scan to see if there were personal emails that I wanted to archive and deleted the rest, up to the last six months or so. Then I sorted by subject and was able to delete groups of emails and keep the most recent and any to archive before sending them to the trash box.

The next step, one that will be continuing for a few weeks, is to unsubscribe from lists and newsletters I don’t read. I have too often just scrolled past many of these emails but allowed them to continue to accumulate. After doing an initial unsubscribe blitz, I continue to review what comes in daily to identify additional lists to drop. For maintenance, I will be trying to go through to identify those I haven’t read in 30 (or 60) days, delete emails that have accumulated and unsubscribe from the list.

Establish Daily, Weekly, Monthly Habits

I’m working to establish habits for managing email. Each day, my goal is to take action on emails that come in rather than just scroll past with the thought that I’ll come back to them. This is when I am identifying additional lists that I am not actively using and unsubscribing and deleting past emails. For those with dated, often daily information (like sites offering free or sale ebooks daily), I quickly open, scan, glean what I want and delete.

Often there is an offer of a workshop, webinar or product. These I either act on immediately or flag so I can come back at the end of the day or within the timeframe of the offer if I can’t make an immediate decision. If emails require replies, I do that immediately if possible or flag them for response later.

Some subscriptions contain information I want to archive for future projects. These I quickly review and save into specific folders, getting them out of my inbox.

In addition to the daily practices, I will each weekend go back and delete or otherwise act on items that have served a purpose during the week but are now outdated – for example reminders of upcoming classes, webinars, and events that have now occurred.

I am going to experiment with using a general “save” folder for items I want to delay acting on but want out of my inbox and clean that out monthly. I think this will serve dual purposes: reducing the clutter in my inbox and knowing where to find them more easily when I want to. I suspect that a good number of these will never be acted upon and will be deleted at the end of the month.

With these steps and others that I may try, I am confident that I can make great progress to control the email monster!

Additional Strategies to Consider

Here are some additional suggestions to control the email monster that may be worth considering, depending on your situation:

* Create a “Spam” Address – an email address that you’re going to check on either a weekly or monthly basis. Use this when you sign up to get a freebie that puts you on an email list where you may or may not have time to read the messages. That leaves your regular email address cleaner.

Extract Important Info – Sometimes I leave emails in my box to save important information and flag them. An alternate strategy is to extract the info and put it into a database or a folder in your documents that you can label so it can be easily located. If it doesn’t seem worth that effort, perhaps it can be deleted.

Set Up a Shopping Folder – When you shop online, you get receipts, warrantees, additional offers, etc. Each of these can be a subfolder under your shopping folder. To save receipts for tax purposes, label the subfolder with the tax year. Then filter or sort all receipts into that folder. Then they will be handy when you need them.

Set Up Filters – Most email programs can filter information so that before you even look it’s labeled a certain way. Gmail does this automatically into primary, social, promotions and you can add updates and forums in your settings. Explore the options provided by your email service.

Each new year, I seek out resources that will help me be and do what I choose. Here are two books that you may want to check out:

 

Indistractable, How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal. (National Bestseller, Included in the Top 20 Best Business and Leadership Books of the Year 2019 by Amazon, Goodreads Best Science & Technology of 2019 Finalist)

 

 

 

 

The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran. The 12 Week Year creates focus and clarity on what matters most and a sense of urgency to do it now. In the end more of the important stuff gets done and the impact on results is profound.

 

 

 

 

Personal Liminal Space – A Cross-County Move In the Space Between  

movingI’ve reflected on the liminal space we are all experiencing during this pandemic here: https://carolbrusegar.com/liminal-spaces-in-between-time/  It is a time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing. Now I am in a specific personal liminal space. Within a few weeks, I will be moving from Nashville, TN to Cypress, CA to be near my family. They moved from Nashville to California four years ago and I am delighted to be joining them.

Preparing to Move in Liminal Space

The liminal space begins with the preparation stage – not what it used to be and hopefully not what it will be in the future. The differences from previous moves begin with paring down belongs as we typically do. All the precautions must be followed; so trips to donate boxes of books to a library’s used book sale mean masks on both sides, a cart that I must load and leave at the door. When I make deliveries of donated items to Good Will, I must unload the boxes and bags filling my car into bins. Their employees aren’t allowed to gather items or help in any way. Some things that I might have sought out places to donate to – magazines, for example – don’t seem worth the additional hassle and go into recycle bins. I won’t ask or accept offers of help in the packing process from friends to eliminate risks. When I must have people in for a moving estimate or to remove furniture that is donated or purchased, it will be with utmost precautions.

As departure time comes closer, there won’t be any in-person gatherings to say good-bye to groups of friends or others. Even if they were done carefully, following all the recommended precautions, we couldn’t hug each other. So we will have a Zoom gathering instead. This makes it a rather strange departure. Hopefully the future holds something better.

All of the details of safe reunion with my family after I have traveled across country also need to be worked out. It will be a challenge to reunite after nearly eight months with no visits in a responsible, safe way. (Normally I see them every 3 months.)

The Challenge of Downsizing Memorabilia

Another aspect of this process, which would have happened regardless of the external circumstances, is the significant downsizing of the memorabilia of my life. Perhaps because of the context of 2020, I am thinking of this process in a liminal space framework also.

I have carried many boxes with me through two moves – a collection of things that only certified pack rats (or treasure keepers in gentler terms) would continue moving. I have eliminated things in each of my past two moves and what I still have are some of the most precious. These include items from my mother who died 18 years ago: costume jewelry, her crochet and latch hook projects, table linens, aprons.

Then there are letters she wrote me over many years and over 60 years-worth of her diaries. The letters and diaries will be used for writing I plan to do and thus will make this move too. I am taking photos of many of the other things as remembrances and letting go of the physical objects. I am paring down remembrances from other family members and friends as well as 40 years of print photos. I feel as though I am in a space of letting go at a deeper level than before. The connection to the physical things that connected me to the people is in some way changing.

Hanging on to so many physical items has been my past mode of operation. The process of letting go of these keepsakes is a physical manifestation of the letting go of some of the other things I have had to release for the past several months. Some of them will never return in any form. Some will be recreated. All will stay in my memories.

Preserving the Meaning Without All the Objects

As I move through this, I am motivated and inspired to capture and preserve some of the memories and reflections for the future. I kept things in boxes and brought them along because they were valuable to me. How can the meaning of such things be captured in ways that will sustain me and touch or inform members of my family or others? How can I honor and share the meaning and lessons? That is my challenge and another opportunity from the liminal space of 2020!

Perhaps you, too, are exploring how to capture your experiences, your story, your memoir in writing. There are many books available to assist us in this process.  https://amzn.to/3gSo6bo

Here’s one that has a unique approach that I have found to be helpful:  https://amzn.to/32OyHiH  The Stories We Leave Behind: A Legacy-Based Approach to Dealing with Stuff by Laura H Gilbert

Liminal Spaces in Our Lives – the ‘In Between’ That Continues

Unknown, liminal, doorI certainly didn’t imagine a few months ago that the pandemic and its myriad impacts would still be affecting us on a daily basis as we move into September! I hadn’t thought much about such occurrences, and I must admit in retrospect that I wasn’t really affected mentally or in any other way by the most recent H1-N1 or Ebola epidemics. It was on my radar, but it didn’t impact my day-to-day reality.

And here we are entering the fall months, still in this space between – this liminal space. This description from https://inaliminalspace.org/ is helpful: “The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing. Liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us.”   I wrote about this concept earlier here: https://carolbrusegar.com/using-liminal-space-next-phase/

As the months have passed, more and more things have been revealed, not only directly related to the pandemic, but to all the other crises we have faced. I hear people pondering what it will look like when we have come to the other side of this – whenever that may be.

Eileen Button wrote an interesting post, “Welcome to Liminal Space” https://flushingview.mihomepaper.com/articles/welcome-to-liminal-space/  in which she invites us to use this space to be open to examination of our lives and reality on a broad level and as it applies to us personally:

“This season asks us to notice and evaluate what we’re doing to the Earth and all its inhabitants. It begs us to examine how we collect and distribute our wealth. It demands that we not only notice the vulnerabilities of our neighbors, but to work to change the systems that keep them oppressed. And it pleads with us not only to thank those whom we have labeled “essential,” but to ensure that equitable adjustments will be made so that our resources are placed where our gratitude is.

“In short, this liminal space is illuminating. It’s shining a light on us, which is sometimes unflattering as it shows us harder truths about ourselves and the society in which we live.”

Everyone Has a Role to Play 

How can this reflection and examination happen? Surely businesses and organizations are looking at some of these questions. Hopefully citizen groups and networks are or will be as we move into another season. Our elected officials on all levels are faced with the issues in stronger ways and must respond.

And we individually can reflect, write/journal and discuss it with others. Perhaps a virtual gathering on Zoom, Google Meet, etc. with specific related topics can be stimulating and generate some creative ideas and directions. Invite friends and acquaintances and try it out. It’s a process in which we all have a role to play.

If you are interested in learning how to use Zoom, there are lots of resources at Amazon.com https://amzn.to/3aZg3sb  or available through a Google search.

Journaling is an incredible and flexible tool and has so much to offer during times like these. If you would like to explore ways to use journaling, check out my free online course that introduces several uses: https://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-explore-the-possibilities-with-my-free-ecourse/

 

 

Nurturing Creative Thinking in Challenging Times

thinking

 

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” ~ Mary Lou Cook  

“Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” ~ Edward de Bono

Our ability to be creative has been called upon so much during these times when everything is different, changing and unpredictable. It’s required for each of us to navigate daily life. And it’s absolutely necessary for anyone involved in leadership and management of a group or organization of any kind. “Necessity is the mother of invention” has new meaning and significance!

Sometimes we tire of the pressure to come up with new solutions in so many areas of life and feel as though we don’t have much left creatively. Perhaps that is you right now.  There are a few practices to consider which could re-ignite your creative thinking. They are simple and may not be new – but I have found it easy to forget or set aside some of these helpful tools in the midst of everything swirling around me.

Our creativity is needed for small, daily things that come up like managing the disappointments and desires of children (or adults in the household) who are frustrated and unhappy about restrictions. And it is needed for finding ways to navigate the larger and longer term things such as the future of your work situation and managing your home space longer term with changing use – work at home, distance learning for students, etc.

These approaches can condition your brain to tap into your creativity easily. Give these a try:

  • Expect yourself to be creative. Nurture the mindset that there are ways to address whatever you are facing that will be positive and fulfill the needs expressed. In other words, don’t give up.
  • Start an Idea Catcher or Idea Journal. Capture ideas you have about anything, whether they apply to immediate situations or not. By doing so you are reinforcing your recognition that you are creative – and you will also have things to consider acting upon in the future.
  • Have a virtual sharing session with a few people. We can be inspired by others and inspire them in return. This takes it a step beyond one-on-one conversations you may be having. Use whatever tool or platform works for you – Zoom, Google Meet, etc. You may want to choose a specific topic like how each of you are managing some shared concern or situation. Or it could be a sharing session about how each person/family has innovated to meet the changes of the past few months. There is value in naming, acknowledging and celebrating what you all have done to manage and thrive!
  • Have a virtual brainstorming session. Invite people who are dealing with or anticipating the same situation, for example ways to provide support for distant parents when travel is not advisable. Or creative ways to celebrate upcoming holidays safely. These interactions and exchange of ideas can help you re-focus on the creative ideas that work best for you and help you narrow down your options.
  • Focus on fractals for a few minutes one or more times a day. Take photos of some you see in nature and post them where you can see them regularly. It can both relieve stress and free your mind to be creative. (See my blog post here: https://carolbrusegar.com/use-nature-and-fractals-to-reduce-overwhelm-and-stress/ )
  • Practice asking yourself “What if….” questions that focus on positive possibilities like “What if making dinner every night is a positive, interactive activity for the family?” (The alternative is “What if making dinner is another disaster of complaining and whining?”)  Or if you are alone, “What if I learn a new craft that I enjoy?” (Rather than “What if I sit here in front of the television all day again every day this week?) The positive questions shift our thinking in amazing ways and ideas can flow easily.
  • Meditate for 5 minutes, using whatever technique works for you.
  • Deep breathe throughout the day. https://carolbrusegar.com/deep-breathing-for-stress-relief/

We are by nature creative. By nurturing our creativity we can enhance our lives now and in any situation in the future. As we look forward, creativity is going to be necessary on every level. This reality shaking time opens up possibilities for innovation that can be life affirming at all levels. I, for one, intend to expand my creative skills to take advantage of this.  Two resources I recommend are the following:

Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you are feeling fear about the future and your ability to creatively live in the coming months and years, this can be inspiring and helpful.

The Creative Habit, Learn It and Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp.  Included are simple exercises that can expand your creative thinking as you go about your daily life.

 

 

 

10 Minute Tasks – a Way to Break Through Overwhelm Fog

List

Do you ever experience overwhelm fog – kind of like brain fog? I certainly do, especially at times when things are so uncertain, when it’s hard to plan, and when there are so many things to manage that are different from what we are used to.

You may have used a variety of systems to manage all the parts of your life – home, school, work, volunteer commitments, personal care and development, family obligations of all kinds. But things are so different these days and I, at least, am not finding the usual tools as helpful.

Perhaps when things settle down some, looking at options again can be helpful: ways that we can manage the details of life that are geared toward our own ways of thinking, organizing information and even our personalities.

Right now, I suggest starting 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 AND provide a feeling of accomplishment.

I remember the idea of writing each of those smaller 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 at the link below and copy as many pages as you wish.  You can also grab the list of 100 10 minute tasks to stimulate the creation of your own list.  Click here to get your samples:

10 Minute Tasks Sample Sheet

10 Minute Tasks List

 

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.

 

Creatively Planning for a Season With Many Unknowns

Question Mark - PuzzleAs we move into the official summer months of 2020, our normal anticipation is drastically changed. Things that we typically spend time doing, whether for adults or children, may be cancelled or modified – or still have unknown status.  Plans we had made or things we anticipated doing are questionable or changed. Some things that are available may not feel safe yet. And things could revert back to more restrictions if the infection rates rise too much with re-opening. It’s very hard to plan right now.

This has at times paralyzed me – I don’t know how to look forward, even to the next 3 months. So I often go from day to day feeling numb. Have you had that experience?  What can we do?

Creativity in this situation is important and needed.  Yet we may feel as though we have used up a lot of our creative potential just getting through the past 3 months. Managing just the maintenance of daily life – especially if there are children in the household – has required lots of innovation.

How can we re-activate our creative juices as we edge into the summer months with few of the normal anchors and expectations?

I suggest mind mapping as a tool that can release creativity and engage the entire household. Mind mapping is a two-dimensional technique that uses imagery, drawings and color to help us tap into both sides of our brains. It is an alternative to the outline and list making techniques we often use. This powerful tool helps us visualize tasks or ideas, come up with new possibilities as we brainstorm, and organize our thoughts.

Mind Map

 

Basics of Mind Maps

Here are the steps to do simple, hand-drawn mind maps.

  • Gather plain paper, colored pencils, markers, or crayons.
  • Choose a topic you want to explore.
  • Draw a circle in the center of the paper and write in your topic in a word or phrase.
  • Draw lines out from the center where you write a few words, a symbol or drawing for each idea you have, and add sub-topics or related ideas in lines off these main points.

Include all the ideas no matter how absurd they may seem. Here’s where a new perspective or angle may reveal itself.

Make additional maps as off-shoots or expansions of your first map. You can expand, modify or discard ideas from the first map on the topic.

An Example of a Summer Mind Map

Start with the main topic of “Summer 2020” and think of several categories of things you want to be part of the season, like:

Accomplish 1 Big Goal, Have Fun/Recreation, Help Others, Explore, Read, Start a New Hobby

These are the spokes that come out from your main topic. Then add specific things that you want to do under each. For example, under Help Others, you might list Deliver flowers or a treat to a neighbor, Call an isolated relative weekly, etc.

Then start a new mind map for each subtopic, add the ideas as subtopics and think of how, when and who would be involved in each one. Here’s where you may weed out things you don’t want to do, and you can always add additional things that come to mind.

Mind maps become a planning tool that are good reminders of the larger picture and help keep track of details. Keeping your mind maps in a folder or binder is helpful.

This summer is going to be unusual and unique in so many ways. Your household can thrive in the midst of it with creativity and innovation. As things change, regroup with new mind maps. Flexibility and creativity are the keys to having an enjoyable season in the midst of the continual changes.

 

If you’d like to read more about mind-mapping, I have some previous blog posts here:

https://carolbrusegar.com/mind-mapping-enhances-innovative-thinking/

https://carolbrusegar.com/transforming-years-after-50-introducing-mind-mapping-multi-purpose-tool/

If you really want to learn about mind mapping from the originator of the technique, Tony Buzan published this just a couple of years ago. It’s a distillation of global research that has happened in the 5 decades since he first created this technique.

Mind Map Mastery: The Complete Guide to Learning and Using the Most Powerful Thinking Tool in the Universe 

Mind Map Book - Buzan

Can Reflection Help You Deal With Change?

changeWe are all in the midst of change these days, aren’t we? Change is tough for all of us to deal with, and for some especially hard. Sometimes, reflecting on our own experiences can be helpful when dealing with change.

Think about these questions. How do you typically deal with change in your life? Do you immediately dig in your heels to avoid moving in new directions? Are you cautious but open? Are you eager for anything new? Knowing how we generally operate can be helpful to you and to those around you during this time.

Change is to a large degree what we make of it, how we respond to it. If we choose to embrace it, we often find it works to our benefit. If we are highly resistant, we block ourselves from seeing and embracing the positives that the change may present.

How have you been responding to the restrictions placed on us by our covid-19 crisis?  And how are you looking toward the decisions about when you will resume some form of activities that were your “normal”? Your comfort level and convictions about what is best for others around you will influence your responses.

As we move deliberately from “stay at home” to less restrictive living, we will be making these decisions. They are significant steps that can have major implications. Sometimes it is okay to fight the change when something doesn’t seem right about it. It can take courage to be the one standing up for what you believe if others are rushing back into activities about which you have discomfort or fear.

If you are not doing so already, try journaling about these ideas and questions. It can be amazing what clarity you can have when you begin writing rather than just allowing things to swirl around in your head. You can download and print a journal designed for these times where you can reflect and record what these days have been and are for you and those close to you. You can print as many copies of each page as you can use. http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-Through-Crisis

Reading about others’ experiences during challenging times can be affirming and illuminating.  You can start with newspaper and magazine articles that are current. The experiences of medical workers, of those in prison or in specific geographic locations widen our perspective of what is happening.

In addition, reflections and reports of others who have lived through pandemics are available. The Flu Epidemic of 1918 is probably most like this situation; seek out and read more about that. Amazon has a wide variety of things to consider.  https://amzn.to/2ZCQ4By

The polio epidemic which began in 1949 is another occurrence to read about. https://amzn.to/2YsOEL1

Even if you aren’t a history buff like I am, I highly recommend that you gather some of these resources and share them with others.  You will gain new perspective on the present and what is to come.

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

~ Maya Angelou

 

Journaling Through Difficult Times-Get Your Free Downloadable Journal Now

journaling

You may be in one of these groups: a committed journaler, a dabbler (one who occasionally or sporadically journals), one who has sworn off such pursuits, or open to ideas about using a tool that is amazingly flexible.

Regardless of whether you can identify with one of those, or are in another place, I invite you now to seriously consider  journaling at this particular time in our lives. It can have immediate benefits like giving you more clarity as you reflect. It can also be therapeutic. Particularly in this quickly changing times, our heads are filled with so many thoughts, questions and feelings. Taking a little time to sit down and reflect on all that can be extremely helpful.

Many, if not all of us have elevated stress and anxiety as we try to figure out the logistics of the reality we have been forced into. Writing in a journal will help us figure out what some specific stressors are, what triggers the anxiety and think about how we can reduce and share them. We can also use a journal to consciously list what we are grateful for in the midst of all this.

Beyond these immediate benefits, our journals will be a great treasure as we look back years from now at our personal thoughts and experiences. These will also provide a window into what we went through for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in future years.

Will you join me in journaling from your personal viewpoint what this CoVid-19 virus pandemic means to you, how it is affecting your life, what thoughts you have? 

In a matter of a few weeks, our whole country and our individual lives have changed. How did the changes evolve for you? Starting now, we can look back on the last weeks and record how the reality began to enter into our consciousness and how it grew. We can reflect on how we perceived the process from that point to now. And from this point forward, we can record daily or near-daily experiences and reflections. At this point, we have no idea how long this will last and how things will change.

To facilitate this, I offer you a free downloadable and printable journal. You can print additional pages as you wish. I also invite you to join this Facebook Group:  http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-a-Tool-For-Life

In the journal, I provide some questions/prompts that can help you zero in on your experiences and questions.  So that it is most flexible, those questions/prompts will be in list form and you can write about whichever seems most useful on any given day. Or perhaps you just want to do daily reflections as you go along.

In the Facebook group, I hope that we can share some of what we are writing, inspire others to explore in additional ways, and support each other.

Here’s your link to the direct download: http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-Through-Crisis

 

 

 

Who Else Feels Life is Getting More and More Surreal?

Who Else Feels Life is Getting More and More Surreal?
surreal
Surreal: “resembling a dream; fantastic and incongruous”

Yes, that’s how I feel these days. Somehow just about everything is different. Is it real?? An 88 year-old friend says she’s never experienced anything like this. And that says a lot.

Whether it’s increased isolation of seniors living alone or in assisted living facilities or nursing homes, or students whose sports and musical competitions are being cancelled, or parents struggling to make arrangements for their children when schools close for periods of time, it hardly seems real.

As with so many things in life, balance is important. Neither listening constantly to media about the outbreak nor ignoring it entirely are advisable. Find and use a trusted source for information and advice. Many advise that our bottom line sources should be the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) or your state health department. If the media sources you are using don’t refer to those sources, check elsewhere.

Beyond the precautions being recommended, I suggest considering these additional things:

  • Establish some personal and/or household intentions about how you will come through this challenge. They may have to do with accomplishments, relationships among you and with others, future plans or other areas you may
  • Look at ways to make positive use of the restrictions. It is all too easy to slip into fear, anxiety, depression, or a combination of them all because of the changes. How can we use the additional time at home in ways that lift our spirits and other people’s spirits? This includes staying in contact and increasing contact through phone calls, cards, letters, online contact (Face Time, Skype, Facebook, etc.) with others who are feeling isolated and depressed. I think particularly of those older people at home alone or in nursing homes or care facilities.
  • Think of things you and others in your household enjoy doing or want to do at home but never seem to have time for. Reading, watching movies, listening to each others’ favorite music, playing board games and art/crafts are always good. How about setting up some challenges around these or other activities to provide something to work toward? This is a more positive way to think about this rather than just “filling time.”
  • Take on tasks and projects that have been put off over and over. These can become challenges to complete and see as accomplishments during this time. The obvious ones are cleaning out and arranging closets and garages. You may gather things to be given away to others or contributed to organizations helping those in need. It may be rearranging rooms or special cleaning projects. Writing and posting a list of the things you will do from the above suggestions where you can see it and check off accomplishments as well as add new ideas is useful.
  • Journaling during this time can be very helpful. Reflecting on our situation and how we handle it will both record these times for the future and help each of us work through our feelings, challenges and frustrations. Writing is so powerful; take time to do it yourself and encourage others to do the same.
  • Practice Hygge principles. Although Hygge is often connected with surviving winter in cold climates, the principles have to do with creating “a quality of coziness (= feeling warm, comfortable, and safe) that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family.” You can read more here: https://carolbrusegar.com/hygge-art-of-coziness/

By focusing on balance, positive use of time at home and reflecting on our experiences, all of us can make the best of a challenging situation. Everything we do to keep ourselves and others positive, hopeful and forward-looking will pay large dividends.