Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed over 600 works. Symphonies, operas, concertos, chamber music, church sonatas. Beautiful compositions filled with sound and yet he saw silence as the most important part of his music.
Imagine if there were no pauses in music, no transitions throughout a piece. Before long, it would turn to noise, making your head spin.
And yet, that’s exactly the way many people live life. No pauses. No transitions.
But I don’t have time …
I was on a coaching call yesterday and my client commented that she’s been running non-stop for the last three weeks and “literally hadn’t had a moment to take a breath.”
As the President and owner of an award-winning 35-person engineering firm, she has a justifiably full plate. And this challenging economy has only increased her responsibilities, not to mention the pressure. There’s also her family and community involvement. She’s been ruthless in delegating and letting go of what’s not important and what’s left truly does need to be done.
And going non-stop from meeting to activity to task is leaving her feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and a little crazy. (Anyone relating?!)
Balance is found in the transitions.
Once upon a time we worked eight hours, slept eight hours, and had eight hours of personal life. The pauses happened naturally. Today, life is a lot more complex and the different parts of your life don’t fit quite so neatly into perfect time slots.
You need mini-breaks between each of your activities so you can re-gather your energy, quiet your mind, and mindfully move on to what’s next.
And I really do mean mini.
If your initial reaction is, “Aaarggghhh, I’m already running just in time,” I get it. So am I on more days than not.
But when you pay attention to the in-between moments, you’ll earn the time back in multiples with increased productivity, energy and creativity plus lower stress. (If this was a financial investment everyone would want to own it ;-).)
Here are four simple ways to bring pauses into the rhythm of your life:
- Take a moment to acknowledge what you’ve just completed. Whether it’s a meeting, a few hours working on a project or cleaning up after dinner, when you’re done pause for 10 -15 seconds and give recognition to where you have just spent your time. Even try to have a quick mental celebration (“Yay, look at my clean kitchen!”). And don’t get hung up on half-finished stuff. Unless you’re sticking with it this moment, you’ve reached a point to declare it done for now.
- Take 3-5 deep breaths before moving onto your next activity. Focused breathing will not only help you feel calm, but also help you clear your head so you can be present for your next task or interaction.
- Put things away. It’s a bit like an exclamation point on what you’ve just completed. You’ll not only feel a greater sense of accomplishment but the few minutes you spend serve as a perfect transition.
- Physically move around. Walk around your office or house, do one or two yoga poses, a few jumping jacks, or a couple of stretches. It shifts your energy so you can bring fresh focus to whatever’s up next on your schedule.
While none of these may seem like a big deal, the impact is huge. Choose one or two of the ideas above or compose your own ritual. Be consistent and you’ll soon create a new cadence in your life. Not only will you find yourself with more energy and focus, but you’ll have a greater sense of balance and control.
If you were to put that to music, it would sound beautiful!