COACH MEG: Focus time (when you bring all of the brain’s attentional resrouces – top, down, back, front, right left – into the full spotlight of focus) is the most enriching and productive time of our days. It’s one of the top contributors to psychological well-being. Schedule at least one focus session per day where you set up the ideal conditions for a calm, positive, energetic, and creative mindset.
JAN: You not only need to schedule it. You need to guard it with your life! Writers are vulnerable to distraction. We talk a lot here at Jungle Red about the lure of email and the Internet and how it sidetracks us from our writing goals. Can you give us some of your tips for controlling the impulse to check email or surf the net?
COACH MEG: First notice when and how you are responding automatically to impulses – it happens frequently. Most effective approach is to turn off the wireless so no email or web is available. If you are waiting for an urgent message, tell your brain (Hello Brain, while we will scan email for the urgent message we are expecting, we will let go of any others that come along, all of which can wait until the end of the focus session.)
JAN_ Writers, or probably anyone who works at home, faces a lot of interruption in a day. I was fascinated by the concept of shift sets, and your advice to make conscious decisions when your day gets interrupted - how to capitalize on the interruption instead of resenting it. Can you give us an example?
COACH MEG: Scenario 1 – something urgent comes up, more pressing that what you’re doing now. Make a decision to shift completely to the new activity for a defined period, then perhaps shift back to the original period.
2. S Scenario 2 – your brain is tired and your productivity has slowed or stalled. Take a brain break. Save tasks like making a bed, cleaning out the dishwasher, putting in a load of laundry, making a quick call to set up an appt for your brain break times. Go exercise during brain breaks.
JAN: You talk a lot about mindfulness, what might the advantages of mindfulness training or practice be for a writers?
COACH MEG: In order for your mind to better “drive” your racing car brain, your mind needs to be awake and aware of what your mind and brain are both doing in any given moment. The ideal state is that your mind is objective (and not falling mindlessly into distraction or frenzy) and has an arms-length relationship with the brain’s automatic processes, noticing them and pausing to choose a response.
A mindful brain is a clean and healthy brain that can focus without distractions, be productive and creative, and make fewer errors. Other benefits include better immune system, decreased depression and chronic pain.
Experiment to find a meditation practice which works for you (you notice benefits in a week or two). There's also more on mindfulness and a meditation exercise to help clear the brain for work at my website www.organizeyourmind.com (under mindfulness tab).
JAN: Writers have to balance writing with promotion. Right now you must be doing the same thing, balancing book promotion with coaching your clients - do you have tricks that you can share?
COACH MEG: I monitor the state of my brain and body continually:
• Is it tired and needs a quick break, or a workout?
• Hungry or thirsty, needing a snack or meal with the right balance of protein/fat/carbs as optimal fuel, water or “antioxidants” (such as a bowl of berries)?
• Wanting some spontaneity – do anything you feel like for a short period?
• Needing to stretch to loosen muscle tension?
• Needing to connect with another human being?
I call this body intelligence and for more on why it's so important, click on this link: body intelligence .
JAN - Thanks, Coach Meg!! She will also be checking in today to answer questions, so fire away!