HBR: How to Practice Mindfulness Throughout Your Work Day

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A Harvard Business Review article by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter, dated March 4, 2016

Some practical and mindful tips for gaining focus and awareness throughout the day–Key Points:

  • Research shows that people operate on autopilot half the time, rather than paying attention to what they are doing.
  • We have entered what many people are calling the “attention economy.” In the attention economy, the ability to maintain focus and concentration is every bit as important as technical or management skills.
  • You can train your brain to focus better by incorporating mindfulness exercises throughout your day.
  • First,… When you wake up, spend two minutes in your bed simply noticing your breath. As thoughts about the day pop into your mind, let them go and return to your breath.
  • Next, when you get to the office, take 10 minutes at your desk or in your car to boost your brain with a short mindfulness practice before you dive into activity. Close your eyes, relax, and sit upright. Place your full focus on your breath. Simply maintain an ongoing flow of attention on the experience of your breathing: inhale, exhale; inhale; exhale. To help your focus stay on your breathing, count silently at each exhalation. Any time you find your mind distracted, simply release the distraction by returning your focus to your breath.
  • Two skills define a mindful mind: focus and awareness. More explicitly, focus is the ability to concentrate on what you’re doing in the moment, while awareness is the ability to recognize and release unnecessary distractions as they arise.
  • Mindfulness in action is a great alternative to the illusory practice of multitasking. Mindful working means applying focus and awareness to everything you do from the moment you enter the office. Focus on the task at hand and recognize and release internal and external distractions as they arise. In this way, mindfulness helps increase effectiveness, decrease mistakes, and even enhance creativity.
  • Emails have a way of seducing our attention and redirecting it to lower-priority tasks because completing small, quickly accomplished tasks releases dopamine, a pleasurable hormone, in our brains. This release makes us addicted to email and compromises our concentration.
  • Apply mindfulness when opening your inbox. Focus on what is important and maintain awareness of what is merely noise. To get a better start to your day, avoid checking your email first thing in the morning. Doing so will help you sidestep an onslaught of distractions and short-term problems during a period of exceptional focus and creativity.
  • After lunch, set a timer on your phone to ring every hour. When the timer rings, cease your current activity and do one minute of mindfulness practice.
  • Finally, as the day comes to an end and you start your commute home, apply mindfulness. For at least 10 minutes of the commute, turn off your phone, shut off the radio, and simply be. Let go of any thoughts that arise. Attend to your breath. Doing so will allow you to let go of the stresses of the day so you can return home and be fully present with your family.
  • Mindfulness is not about living life in slow motion. It’s about enhancing focus and awareness both in work and in life. It’s about stripping away distractions and staying on track with individual, as well as organizational, goals. Take control of your own mindfulness: test these tips for 14 days and see what they do for you.

I would add, turn off that email attention-getter that announces itself every time you get an email.

Lastly, I’ve always had an innate aversion to “multitasking”; now I see it as counter-productive to full awareness and productivity.

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The Pony Joke

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From a blog of Greg Hake (www.greghake.com), he retells one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite jokes.

“The joke concerns twin boys of five or six. Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities — one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist — their parents took them to a psychiatrist.

First the psychiatrist treated the pessimist.  Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys.  But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears.  “What’s the matter?” the psychiatrist asked, baffled. “Don’t you want to play with any of the toys?”  “Yes,” the little boy bawled, “but if I did I’d only break them.”

Next the psychiatrist treated the optimist.  Trying to dampen his out look, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure.  But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist.  Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands.  “What do you think you’re doing?” the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. “With all this manure,” the little boy replied, beaming, “there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

Needless to say, a better way to live life is to always look for the pony.

 

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Posted in: Humor

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A Special Evening at the Plumed Horse

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Saturday night, November 22, 2014, Chef’s Table Room at the Plumed Horse, with an awesome lineup of wines provided by Charlie Weekes, for the benefit of our ‘research’:

  • 2004 Spottswoode Cabernet
  • 2005 Scarecrow Cabernet
  • 2006 Schrader To Kalon Cabernet
  • 2006, Screaming Eagle, Second Flight Cabernet
  • 2006 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet

Current retail value of the wines, around $1700…

Weekes Tasting #2

The small bites and the courses just kept coming, and as a group of eight, we kept tasting, the wine and the food.

.Weekes Tasting #3

Favorites, though the differences between the first wine and the fifth ever so slight, were Scarecrow and Shafer.

Weekes Tasting 1

The evening was a smashing success, with good friends, great food, and world class wines.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in: CaliWine

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Napa Earthquake

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Tim Fish in Wine Spectator:  “Can a Napa Icon be Saved?”  Sept 17, 2014

Jeff Quackenbush, North Bay Business Journal: “Napa quake wine damage estimate tops $80M”  Sept 9, 2014

 

 

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Posted in: CaliWine

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Wine Facts

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One ton of grapes makes 2 barrels of wine, at 60 gallons per barrel.

One barrel of wine makes 25 cases, 300 bottles.

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Posted in: Wine and Food

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The Strangest Secret

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Long ago as a young man, I was introduced to the “Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightingale.  It was a short, inspirational film that I saw countless times with a group of sales people (it was used to recruit other sales people into the company) and the ideas became inculcated into my psyche.

The strangest secret:  We become what we think about.

It’s implications are powerful, both aspirational and perhaps scary.

The text is here for your personal enjoyment.

 

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Food Republicans and Trickle Down Kitchens

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Interesting thoughts by Michael Bauer, SF Chronicle food writer, in this article from Inside Scoop SF,  “Why Everyone Should Care About Restaurants Like Saison and the French Laundry.”

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Posted in: Wine and Food

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The Nicklaus Way

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By Bob Greene, Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2014, “The Nicklaus Way of Golf–and Life”

His theory of golf–and life–was pretty elementary.  Do your best, and everything else will take care of itself…Hit one shot, keep your head down and then hit the next.  If you make a poor shot, it’s no one’s fault but your own; don’t scream and don’t blame the course or the gallery.  You’re going to end up in the rough on certain days of your life.  It’s your job alone to find your way out.

 

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Posted in: Sports & Life

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Vingarde Valise

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From Dr. Vino, fun video of the ultimate wine luggage.

 

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January 28, 2014

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Wines of the Week (WOW):

  • 2008 Calafia, Napa Cab
  • 2005 Delgadillo, Napa Cab
  • 2010 Keever, Napa Cab
  • 2010 Emerson Brown, Oakville, Napa Cab
  • 2010 BV Georges De Latour, Napa Cab
  • 2010 Cambiata, Monterey Tannat
  • 2011 Terra Valentine, Napa Cab

Value-Price find, Emerson Brown, around $45.

Oldie but a Goodie, BV George De Latour

Interesting, the Cambiata Tannat, a grape variety that doesn’t get out much, but should.

Dead center of my Cali Wine palette, Keever, Celia Welch the winemaker.

Nose for News:

Jon Bonne’, SF Chronicle Wine Writer and Author, Winemakers to Watch in 2014.  Of note is Mark Adams, of Ledge Vineyards in Paso Robles.  He is the Asst WM at Saxum–on my list of a new wine venture to try in Paso.

Schrader Cellars announced their winter release, taking orders last Tuesday, Jan 18, at 9 AM, the opportunity to spend a minimum of $700 for four bottles of premium 2012 wine–it doesn’t get much better than these wines.  And the server promptly crashed, proving that the recession is over!  No fear; Schrader took a mulligan, and was ready for business the next morning, and to my knowledge it went without a hitch, selling out in 24 hours.  Perhaps ACA could consult with Schrader IT people for the healthcare website…

Shakeup at Eberle Wines in Paso Robles.  Always sad to see founders and family members become flotsam in corporate squabbles, especially one so well-regarded as Gary Eberle.

Quotes:

“What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?!”  –WC Fields

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Posted in: My Musings

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