I’m always happy if I can put myself into a writing trance, shut out distractions, and find my focus. But I figured out something about myself. I sometimes forget to breathe. Literally, I find that I’m holding my breath or that my breathing is very shallow.
So when I read the book, Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, I was intrigued to learn that there’s a name for this — screen or e-mail apnea. Unfortunately, it can be harmful to your health.
In the chapter, “Awakening to Conscious Computing,” technology consultant Linda Stone, who coined the terms e-mail apnea and screen apnea, wrote about how she observed more than 200 people using computers and smart phones in offices, homes, and cafes. The vast majority, she said, were holding their breath or breathing very shallowly, especially when responding to e-mail. Their posture while sitting at the computer was often poor, which exacerbated the problem. Read more
My friend Sue has a Jack Russell terrier named Roger who has springs in his feet. Whenever Sue plays a video game, Roger jumps up and down as if he’s playing along. Sometimes I feel like I have a Jack Russell in my brain springing around from thought to idea to thought again as I go through my day.
In my ongoing quest to calm my inner terrier and be more focused and productive with my writing and other tasks, I’ve figured out several mental tricks — mind games I can play with my brain — to help me get things done. These tips place structure around the daily chaos.
Prioritize your top three to five tasks. Each day, I think of the three or four most important things I need and want to do and write them on a Post It note that I stick to my computer monitor. This helps me focus on a manageable number of tasks that are absolute priorities. To decide my priorities, I ask myself these questions: What’s been grating on me? What would make me feel most relieved if I could knock the task off my list? What has a deadline attached to it? What would be most profitable? What would help me move a project forward to the next level? As the day goes by, I look at it to stay on track.
Follow the two- to five-minute rule. Some tasks really don’t take that much time to do but just seem like they do. Many e-mails can be dealt with in a few minutes or even less. Other things can easily be dispatched in five minutes. Knocking off a bunch of quick tasks gives momentum for all the more time consuming ones. Read more
When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for ten minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in uncomfortable positions.)
Puddicombe says we rely upon our mind to be focused, creative, spontaneous and to perform at our very best in everything we do. And, yet, we don’t take time out to look after our mind or nourish it. He says we spend more time looking after our cars, our clothes, and our hair than we do our minds.
Our minds go round and round until we’re so distracted that we are no longer present in the world in which we live.
You don’t have to become a monk, like Puddicombe did, to learn how to nourish your mind so you can be the clear, creative, compassionate soul you’re meant to be.
Practicing mindfulness for 10 minutes a day can change your life and your art: (Tweet this)
To read more about my experiences with meditation and writing, click here.
Earlier this week, Carly wrote a blog post featuring a talk David Lynch gave about the effects of meditation on creativity.
Meditation is a wonderful tool that has added immeasurable benefits to my life, including:
- Increased awareness of myself and my motivations;
- An expanding of consciousness—I see things more clearly than I used to;
- Increase in creativity; Read more
The creative process requires clarity and energy, says award-winning director David Lynch. He advocates meditation as a way of achieving a higher consciousness that leads to a deeper awareness and heightened sense of creativity.
In this 8-minute clip from a speech called “Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain,” Lynch speaks about the impact of meditation on his life and how it can help filmmakers and other artists boost their creativity.