The other day a couple of friends and I were talking about the difficulties of maintaining a healthy life/work balance, which as you know dear reader has been one of my personal challenges. It was extraordinarily helpful to hear the details of other people's struggles with this increasingly prevalent modern phenomenon, and draw on their solutions.
SlowWork, a concept with connections to the SlowFood movement, is another positive response to this cultural addiction to speed. It's not about going backwards or doing things "at a snail's pace", they say, but about changing gears and finding a way to work that's less driven and destructively focused on quanity rather than quality; giving ourselves the space to cultivate our professional relationships, the time for the rest and recuperation that's needed to support our physical and mental health so that we can do our best. In other words, bringing a different quality of presence to our work.
During my walk this morning I was listening to a podcast from Oprah's Book Club, where Eckhart Tolle was talking about opportunities to bring more mindfulness into our everyday work practices. He suggested two simple exercises. One, take something that occurs all the time; the phone rings, say, and instead of racing to pick it up, let it go for an extra ring or two. Take that time as a reminder to be present with this moment, and begin the call from that place.
Tolle's other suggestion was one of my own favorite "tricks" - keep something beautiful next to you on your desk - a flower, perhaps - and periodically look up from the computer screen to rest your gaze on it.
Another thing I do is to light a candle before phone calls with my clients. They might not even know I'm doing it, but it reminds me that the person I am speaking to is holy, a human being worthy of my utmost care and attention. For some clients, this is a ritual they partake in as well, and we start our calls with a moment's silence followed by a brief 'check-in' so that anything that would distract or effect our work together is spoken and shared openly. It also helps to create the intimacy and connection that feeds creative collaboration and produces extraordinary results.
Do you have practices to help you stay centered as you go about your work? What are they?