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Recharge and refocus with a Tiny Pause - and try it free on Wednesday February 1

Sam Thorogood, www.tinypause.co.uk
Sam Thorogood, www.tinypause.co.uk

Sam Thorogood, of Tiny Pause, is in the business of helping us improve at work and at home - and is offering our readers the chance to try a free broadcast.

Cambridge Independent readers can join Sam for the ‘Recharge and Refocus’ broadcast on Wednesday, February 1 at 12.30pm.

You can reserve a complimentary place via the website tinypause.co.uk.

Here, Sam explains more about helping people to create simple yet effective ways to recharge and refocus.

What is it that makes someone the best at what they do? I have always been curious about excellence. To keep it simple, I could divide this interest into two areas:

a) What do the best do specifically that I can imitate, or use as inspiration, to be as good as them?

b) Can I combine being the best at what I do, my work, with being the best parent, partner, friend etc? Or are they mutually exclusive?

Let’s begin with a) and focus on knowledge workers – people who mostly use their brain for work; leaders, scientists, programmers, health care workers, office support workers etc.

What do the best have in common? Do they have anything in common? Behavioural studies consistently demonstrate that ‘the best’ combine all of these following attributes:

1. A high level of skill in a specific area

2. Communicate their work, ideas and thoughts effectively

3. They have an effective recharge habit (strong resilience)

4. They have a very clear senseof purpose.

The most common element that most high-performing knowledge workers have is 1. Abilities in the remaining three vary considerably.

Which one do you think will help you improve your ability at work and as a parent? In truth, probably all offer some crossover benefits. But the most important one in my experience is the recharge habit.

Why? You almost certainly have most of the knowledge and understanding you will ever need to solve most of your work challenges (relationships, culture, strategy etc) and most of your parental challenges (support children to feel loved, safe and confident etc).

But how often do you not use this knowledge? How often do you mishandle a meeting? How often do you not get your point across in a way that people really understand?

How often do you not give your children the attention they crave? How often do you not just have the energy to be the parent you know you could be?

In his 2009 book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, surgeon-turned-author Atul Gawande summed up that most of our failures in the modern world are failures in using the knowledge that we already have.

For thousands of years we didn’t have the solutions. But now that we do, often we don’t use them.

The other core reason that our recharge and refocus habit is so important is that we have complete control over it.

Lots of stuff that happens at work and home is out of our hands. Now that the situation has happened, it’s the quality of our response that matters. We can control our response. When we are tired it’s harder; when we feel fully charged it’s easier. Which leads us onto the work that I do: Attention management – helping people to train and protect their attention using elements of neuroscience, behavioural science and mindfulness. In a nutshell: helping people create effective recharge and refocus habits.

I’ve worked with doctors, nurses, scientists, programmers, chief executives, professors, teachers, students, children and parents. Nearly all of these people could identify a solution for themselves. It was the help in making it a regular part of their day which made the biggest difference.

More than 600 scientific studies support the techniques and training I deliver. I can’t tell you what the benefits would be for you – that’s up to you to test – but I can tell you that the solution is simpler than you think: high-quality mini rests to recharge and refocus.

You are an important person – you deserve these moments.

Four simple techniques

1. Drink more water

Take four slow, deep, conscious breaths (four-breath pause) and drink a glass of water. Be aware of how you breathe, how your chest rises and falls. This one action helps you reduce stress hormones and improve concentration. Studies show a decrease of one to three per cent in hydration has a noticeable impact on concentration and mood. Solution: drink more water.

2. Put down your phone

Turn off your phone for one-hour blocks and put it in a drawer. Studies show that phones are as addictive as gambling (because the reward is uncertain – will I get a mundane update or a feel-good message? I don’t know, so I keep checking). This erodes your ability to focus and reach the flow state – identified by neuroscience as our most productive state of mind.

3. Listen... really listen

Your partner or child starts talking to you. Make the effort to listen to everything they are saying – really watch their body language. Demonstrate your love for them by giving them all of your attention. Focus on them. See what you can hear. Don’t try to solve their problems, just let them know that you have understood. Most of us know the solutions to our own problems. When we speak them out loud we often find perspective we didn’t see first time round. This is what we offer to each person we deeply listen to.

4. Get some fresh air

Go for a walk outside without your phone. Take four slow, deep, conscious breaths (four-breath pause) and really tune into what’s around you. When you step outside, the reptilian part of your brain (fight or flight) naturally calms down because of biofeedback. Your brain is busy adjusting to all the new stimuli: the temperature, air, light, movement etc.

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