paying attention | Steve's Quest: The Animated Musical Web Series

New Videos From My Public Talks

I want to share a few videos from a talk I gave recently at a job-seeking group.  I’ve revamped my “Transcending Procrastination” presentation to add some more techniques and ideas, and these videos offer some samples of the new content.  I hope you find them useful and fun.

In this first video, I talk about how to develop a longer attention span, and thus get more done in a single sitting in your work, by practicing holding your attention on your breathing or an object:

In the next video, I talk about how being able to say “no” to requests is an important part of staying focused and motivated in our projects.  Often, this is a matter of getting comfortable with the intense sensations that can come up when we refuse a request:

Here, I answer a question about dealing with job interview-related anxiety, discussing how useful it can be to find the place in your body where you’re feeling the nervousness or tension, and breathe into that place.  This can be helpful for anxiety in other situations as well:

Inner Productivity Intensive Workshop

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be holding a full-day workshop, which I’m calling the Inner Productivity Intensive, in the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday, June 12, 2010.

This will be an intimate, small-group affair, limited to ten people, where we’ll be deeply exploring the challenges each participant is facing in their work, and how mindfulness practices can help them stay focused and inspired in what they do.

You can register for the event here.  More information about the workshop is below.

Supercharge Your Focus And Motivation In Your Work!

Why do you know what you want to do in your work, but you still don’t do it?

Why do you know you want to work more efficiently, but you end up wasting time on e-mail and social media?  Why do you want to write that book or start that business, but it’s never gotten off the ground?  Why do you want to change jobs, but you can’t seem to begin your search?

I think we’ve all asked ourselves this kind of question at some point, and the answer often seems maddeningly unclear. What is clear, however, is that the usual organization and time management literature doesn’t shed much light on it.

Yes, there are neat tricks and “hacks” out there for organizing your e-mail, color-coding your folders, and finding the right iPhone apps.  But as I think you know from painful experience, these tricks are useless if you aren’t focused and motivated enough to put them into practice.

What Are You Running From?

So how do you find the focus and motivation you’re looking for?  In my experience working with people around their productivity issues, to really get what we want out of what we do, the first step is to take a close look at what we’re avoiding.

What do I mean?  You’ll see for yourself, I think, if you carefully watch what’s happening when you’re at work, and you’re about to start procrastinating.  You’ll notice that, in that “clutch” moment right before you put off a task to do something else, you start having some thought or sensation — some inner experience – that feels uncomfortable or even dangerous to you.

The thought or sensation I’m talking about is different for each of us.  For some, it’s tension in their body — maybe a tightness in their neck or shoulders.  For others, it’s a painful memory or a worry about the future.  Perhaps, for you, it’s something else.

While the inner experience I’m talking about is unique for each person, the way people tend to deal with that experience is pretty much the same.  Because it’s scary and uncomfortable, we try to distract ourselves from it — perhaps by checking e-mail, playing Minesweeper, surfing the Web, or something else.

The trouble with this approach is that, when we distract ourselves, we take our attention away from our work.  We can’t code that computer program, paint that painting, or do anything else that’s productive when we’re messing around on Facebook.

The Art Of Allowing

As it turns out, there’s a better way to relate to this inner experience:  to fully allow it.  When you feel that tension, painful memory, or whatever it is coming up, simply hold your attention on your work, keep breathing, relax your body, and allow that experience to pass away on its own.  If you’ve done meditation, you probably have some idea what I mean.

The more you practice this, the more comfortable and familiar that experience will become.  You’ll start to realize it isn’t as scary as you’d thought.  More importantly, you’ll become able to move forward in your work, even in the face of that pesky experience.

Of course, this is easier said than done.  Usually, we’ve become so accustomed to running from that troublesome inner experience that we’re no longer aware we’re avoiding it.  We just “find ourselves” checking e-mail, playing FreeCell, or whatever our favorite distraction is, totally oblivious to why it’s happening.

The Inner Productivity Intensive is about getting conscious of that difficult inner experience, and developing a new relationship with it that gives you a new sense of purpose and freedom in your work.

What This Workshop Offers You

As you may know, I wrote a book called Inner Productivity: A Mindful Path to Efficiency and Enjoyment in Your WorkInner Productivity, which Getting Things Done author David Allen calls “a great read and a useful guidebook for turning the daily grind into something much more interesting and engaging,” is all about learning to allow – rather than resist — the thoughts and sensations that tend to disrupt our focus.

In this full-day workshop, we put the book’s ideas and techniques into practice.  Basing our approach on meditation, yoga and other mindfulness practices that have improved people’s lives for thousands of years, I and my skilled facilitators will help you notice, and transform, the patterns of thinking and behavior holding you back in your work.

You’ll come out of the workshop with an increased ability to focus on your work, a stronger sense of mission, and a deep-seated knowledge that you’ve got what it takes to face the challenges that arise in what you do.

This workshop is unlike any other seminar on organization or time management.  I’ve designed the course to be small — ten people or so — to make sure each person gets the individual attention they need, and the breakthrough they want.  This won’t be a lecture — you’ll be diving right into exercises that make you aware of the places where you’re limiting yourself.

I’d recommend this workshop to people who are ready to take a deep look at what’s really holding them back in their work.  If that’s what you’re interested in, this course will radically change the way you think about and relate to what you do.

Logistics

The workshop will be on Saturday, June 12, 2010, in San Jose, California, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Registration for the workshop is $135.00 per person.  You’ll receive more information, including directions and the schedule, when you register, which you can do by clicking here.

Guest Article At Urban Monk: “How To Build Confidence By Just Paying Attention”

I know, I’m in a guest-posting frenzy recently, but here’s another one I just did at Urban Monk called “How To Build Confidence By Just Paying Attention.”  It’s about how just changing the way we direct our attention — whether we’re talking about what we’re aware of within ourselves, or what we’re focused on in the outside world — can change how we feel about ourselves.  You can find the post at http://www.urbanmonk.net/522/how-to-build-confidence-by-just-paying-attention/.

My next post will be located on this site, I assure you.  :)