Tag Archives: Slow

Four weeks later

It’s been a whole month since I left work. Although the time has passed quickly, my old routine of work-home-work-home is a hazy memory.

Friday four weeks ago I took the tram to be in office before 6.30am to get through the long list of things to do before my 5pm knock off (and my farewell party at Jimmy Watsons).

This morning I woke up much earlier than usual and went outside to collect some wood for the fire. I thought about how lovely it was to be outside in the wee hours of the morning as the sun was rising and the air was crisp. It felt virtuous to be up before everyone else. It was 7.30am.

It’s been a nice life for a month, but my slow Rushworth life is coming to an end this weekend too. On Sunday I’m flying to India for 5.30am starts in an Ashram. From my current vantage point it seems scarcely believable. But I daresay I’ll adjust.

I’ll report back in four weeks.

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Hmmm…never going back again

After another glorious day in the country, this is my current plan for returning to the city and the 9 to 5 grind:

A momentary flight of fancy perhaps. In fact, I’m sure I’ll go back again. But lovely to ponder anyway.

My kind of Sunday morning

IMG_1101

My days in Carlton are numbered so I’m making the most of weekends to do my favourite things.

Going out to cafes and restaurants is great but it’s hard to beat the satisfaction (and economics) of a delicious loaf of bread and some peanut butter (I discovered this morning that I don’t own any Vegemite. Quelle horreur!)

Bread from Baker D. Chirico, Faraday St, Carlton

Coffee from new Market Lane pop up right next door

Baker D. Chirico and Market Lane Coffee, Carlton

Baker D. Chirico and Market Lane Coffee, Carlton

Take a nap why don’t you

it’s tip day and lip day! (the crowd roars!)

nap

99 tips for a better world (15 of 99): take a nap

I am devoted to the Slow Movement. Slow food, slow travel, slow work. I once even tried to get traction on the idea of slow aid because I was frustrated by the push by donors to engender positive change in disadvantaged communities according to 12-month funding cycles.

Sadly my devotion is, at best, one of principle more than practice.

I want to embrace Slow Movement principles in my everyday life, but I also want to assume responsibility at work (which leads to working long hours), keep my side projects moving, maintain a healthy social life, eat well, exercise and play with my ten nieces and nephews on a regular basis.

It’s a puzzle.

So I was delighted to learn of research arguing that my apparently contradictory priorities are indeed symbiotic.

Tony Schwartz, chief executive officer of The Energy Project, made the case in The New York Times recently in the encouragingly titled: ‘Relax! You’ll Be More Productive’ (which I read while eating lunch at my desk).

Schwartz sets out the fundamental flaw of modern productivity measures. There are two key inputs for productivity – time and energy. Both of these resources are finite, but only one is renewable.

We try to increase output by drawing on these two inputs simultaneously. Over the years as we’ve become busier and busier we’ve maxed out the amount of time and energy we can input for productivity but keep trying to increase the output.

Tony Schwartz identifies the problems and offers a solution:

Although many of us can’t increase the working hours in the day, we can measurably increase our energy. Science supplies a useful way to understand the forces at play here. Physicists understand energy as the capacity to do work. Like time, energy is finite; but unlike time, it is renewable. Taking more time off is counterintuitive for most of us. The idea is also at odds with the prevailing work ethic in most companies, where downtime is typically viewed as time wasted.

The answer to increased productivity is rest!

Schwartz draws upon research from Stanford that demonstrates basketball players’ performance dramatically improving with 10 hours sleep a night. He also espoused the virtue of daytime naps. Short naps improve performance and longer naps (60-90 mins) improve performance even more.

I’m sure you will agree this is excellent, life altering news.

Much like my devotion to the Slow Movement, I am an ardent supporter but hopeless practitioner of napping.

I am, however, getting better at this most important life skill and have developed a few tricks along the way to make it easier.

Tips for taking a nap (for those of us who aren’t naturally good at it)

1. Don’t fixate on falling asleep. Just lying down with your eyes closed is good enough.

2. Set an alarm – the control freak inside will appreciate some structure to ease into this radically irresponsible behaviour

3. Unlike night-time sleeping when darkness is preferred, look for a shaft of sunlight to lie in for your nap. In my experience it is impossible not to relax while lying in a shaft of sunlight.

4. Read the definitive text on napping, ‘Change Your Life Without Getting Out of Bed: The Ultimate Nap Bookby SARK. Just a few pages long (more a book of word illustrations than a book of prose) this book makes the case for napping while making your eyes droopy as you read.

5. Trick yourself into napping. I used to be wholly incapable of napping but very good at falling asleep in front of a movie. So I just declared it movie time whenever I needed a nap. These days I’m more likely to use podcasts for the same purpose and they work a treat.

6. Use a fan. Because naps often happen in the daytime, it can sometimes feel too hot to lie down. If you, like me, think air-conditioning is the devil’s work, take heart that running a fan for the whole summer will cost about $30 in electricity. All of that breezy box-fan goodness for much less energy than your fridge or kettle is chewing up.

7. If you’re a real productivity hound who balks at the thought of napping, consider meditation. All the CEOs are doing it. Meditation and napping are two different things, but they both require stillness and setting time aside from work. Think of meditation as a productivity junkie’s gateway drug to napping.

8. Keep it snappy. How long you should nap for is contested, but if you need to bounce back straight after your nap, keep it under 30-45 so you’re not groggy when you re-emerge.

9. Figure out the best napping window for you. If you’re an early riser, it will be earlier in the day – around 1pm. If you’re a night owl, push it back to 2pm.

10.  Above all, nap freely and frequently. Become an expert of your own nap. If someone gives you grief about taking a nap, remember you’ve got science on your side.

Happy napping.

 

“It’s inhumane the pace at which people live in this society”

Liz Gilbert and me

A few of us headed up to Sydney last weekend to see Elizabeth Gilbert speak at the Sydney Opera House.

I am a huge fan – follower might be more accurate – of Liz Gilbert. I have read Eat, Pray, Love numerous times (it’s a handy book to love because there is usually a copy in any hostel you ever stay in). It’s become one of those books I read for relaxation and comfort. It’s like a 350 page reset button for me. It’s a story about travel, language, history, spirituality, self-knowledge and personal drama – my favourite things. It’s light and funny too, so a delight to read for strong stretches from a cosy position on a couch or a less cosy position at a boarding gate.

Liz Gilbert is also a wonderful public speaker and reflects thoughtfully and wisely on a range of topics that seem to overlap with so many of the topics I wonder about too. I guess that is the gift of Liz Gilbert – her ability to reflect so calmly and clearly upon ideas that are swirling around in the heads of so many of us. Her self-assured and calm certainty is also wonderful for someone like me, who often crowds out any pinholes of wisdom with self doubt and the good opinion of others.

I was delighted while watching this long interview below, that Liz spoke to that desperate feeling that I (and I know many others) had about returning to regular, busy, scheduled life after holidays. Skip forward to around 29 mins (if you’re in a hurry) for some wisdom on the indefensible pace of our lives.