My mind was swimming with so many things I had to do. I had spent the morning on homeschooling duty, running up and down the stairs as I supervised children getting on Zoom calls for three different grade levels.
My post-Thanksgiving email inbox teemed with requests needing immediate attention.
My to-do list as I approached the end of the semester grew longer, with both professional tasks and personal ones.
“Get gifts for your teaching assistants,” my mind yelled. “Write that down!”
“Have you graded those papers yet?”
“Do you have a Christmas menu planned?”
“What about Christmas cards?”
“You need to write thank you notes for your colleagues!”
“Have you sent out the agenda for the faculty meeting yet?”
This was no way to start an abbreviated workday cut short by the necessity of pandemic homeschooling. I needed a clear head if I was going to get anything done. I decided to create my own reset.
Step 1. Interact with the natural world. Step outside, open a window, or just gaze outside at the sky or some trees. Looking out of a window at a forest view has been demonstrated to increase work satisfaction and decrease stress. Try it – 3-5 minutes.
Step 2. Shake it off. Try this technique I learned from Frances Darnell at Dynamic Core Wellness. Feel your feet on the floor, and start by shaking your left hand and arm, then your right. Move to your legs, then eventually your whole body. You can see it demonstrated in this brief video. 2 – 3 minutes.
Step 3. Do a brain dump. According to David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, unfinished tasks are like open loops in our brain that will continually draw our energy and attention. He recommends creating a card, either digitally or physically, and writing down each one. I like to create a list of things on my mind, and then figure out if I’m procrastinating them and why. 5-10 minutes.
Feel better? In less than 15 minutes, you’ve reset yourself and are ready to focus on whatever is next.