Finding Keys in Quarantine #1: From ‘Wonk to Work’
As we enter week six of the quarantine, I began thinking about a couple of key insights that I have learned that might resonate with others. Most of these insights have always been in me, however, like finally finding lost keys when you have been looking for ages, it is only when you slow down that you see that they are, and have always been, right in front of you in clear view. My first insight is the pathway from ‘Wonk to Work’.
I woke up early last Wednesday focused to begin a project that I was working on. As I sat in my office, fresh coffee in hand, I experienced a feeling, a mental sound that I had heard throughout my childhood in most cartoons … “wonk, wonk, wonk”. This feeling and sound represent a stall. In my experience, this stall is quickly followed by doubt, questions and frustration. The result is a loss of excitement, passion and productivity. I’m not sure why it happens, but in the quietness of the quarantine, I recognized that it was happening. Fueled by my newly acquired habit of morning meditation, I took a pause. A true pause, where you just stop and breathe. In this pause, I discovered for myself a four-step key to help me shift from ‘Wonk to Work’.
4 Steps to Help Shift from ‘Wonk to Work’
- Write – Capture whatever is in your head your questions, your frustrations, your doubts.
- Walk – There are tons of studies that prove the value of a physical shift to restart and/or shift your thinking. Getting a refill on your beverage, doing a quick stretch or even going to the washroom (restroom, toilet, water closet for those global readers) will get you out of your head.
- Wake – Review your list of things you are working on and tap into your instinct, where your energy and passion is leading you, what is sparking your interest in the moment.
- Work – Block the next 30-45 minutes to focus on producing as much as you can on the topic that you have chosen, what Cal Newport describes as ‘Deep Work’ from his great book of the same title.
As I moved through these four quick steps, I was amazed at the shift that occurred in me and the resulting work that was created. It reminded me of what I call the ‘power of pause’ and the ‘pathway from pause’, two simple ways for me to help remove the storms in my head clearly enough to see the keys that are right in front of me. I will share more about these topics in my next blog.
Until then, keep safe and if you have discovered other keys within quarantine send me an email so that we can help each other as we go through this unique and disruptive period.