I mentioned the idea of a “clarity break” yesterday and thought I’d unpack it a bit more. It’s a concept that I’ve struggled with over the years, but find great value from when I do it regularly.
The EOS Worldwide blog defines it as:
A clarity break is a regularly scheduled appointment on your calendar with yourself. You define what regular is – a half hour daily, two hours weekly, a half day monthly. It’s up to you. The doing of it is what matters.
Next find a place to meet with yourself… I like Panera Bread personally.
Just take a blank pad with you. Using technology tends to become a distraction. We are tempted to just do one email or just surf the web for that one project back at work. Don’t do it.
Back to you and that blank pad. Stare at it and your mind will help you. The important things will surface. Ideas will pop up. Try it. You’ll be amazed.
It really can be quite amazing, though it’s also rather intimidating. You’re sitting there with a blank piece of paper and nothing worth writing. If you can break past those first few minutes, though, things will start to roll. For me, the content varies a lot: sometimes it’s mostly work-related, sometimes more personal tasks, and sometimes just random. Not every session is perfect, but collectively they add up nicely.
The idea is not unlike your time in the shower, when you let your mind wander and you often come up with new ideas or remember something you were supposed to do. This is just an intentional version of that.
I’ve done a few things to help make my sessions more useful, and one is better prep. First, I take another look at my calendar for the coming days so I can have that fresh in my mind.
Next, I do a short meditation session with Headspace. I’ve never been much on meditation, but taking three minutes to clear my head before I start is key.
I kind of relate it to this ridiculous scene from “The Waterboy“. Coach Klein leaves his head for a few minutes, but when he’s done he’s ready to dig right in. That’s how I am with Headspace; I try to relax for a few minutes, and when it’s over I snap back and dig in.
Ideas to use
From there, I have a few prompts that I give myself each time.
- Highlights: What are some things that have gone well recently?
- Gut Feelings: What am I feeling? What am I nervous about?
- People: I think about the other three people in my house, and the other six people at our company, one at a time, to see if anything pops up. I’ll often have random thoughts like “Oh yeah, I need to check in with Brooke about project X”.
- Goals and Priorities: Looking ahead, does anything show up there?
- Random: I leave a section on the side for any other random things that come to mind.
I don’t do them in order, and I rarely have something in every category. They’re just good prompts to get things rolling and then I follow wherever my thoughts take me.
In my case, I use my reMarkable tablet for these breaks. It has no apps or features, and is essentially just digital paper. No distractions, but can save and sync my notes. Perfect for something like this.
Do you ever intentionally take these kinds of breaks?