Mental Warm-Up

Warming up at the campfire  watching the sunset

Getting started is not easy, especially if it’s something monumental (in your head or in reality). In spite of all my efforts to try and psyche myself into action, I’ve always found myself procrastinating more.

So here are some things I’m trying to overcome this hurdle to my hurdle.

1. Situate yourself in the environment of work. Sit in the chair where you’ll be doing the work. Then, instead of scrolling on Instagram or Tiktok, open up a notepad and read a non-fiction book, ideally something inspiring like a business book. I’ve been getting into Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things.

2. As you read or meditate in your seat, jot down any ideas or tasks that come to mind. Our brain instinctively knows what we need to do and it’s constantly working within our subconscious to come up with ideas for the task at hand. BUT our mind is also fearful, full of doubts, and worries.

3. At some point, you’ll want to do things related to the task at hand; writing a simple email, researching something small, and a little bit at a time, we warm up to the idea of this task. Mentally, we’re riled up to tackle the task at hand.

So whenever something is too big to face, don’t forget to warm up. It takes some time to get into the zone. As with piano, our fingers are not instantaneously prepared to tackle difficult études or concerti without warming up. But after some preparation, it’s game on.

Buffer time

I feel incredibly creative and motivated when I have buffer time. Buffer time includes train or bus rides where I have no choice but to sit and wait. Or when I was in quarantine. The parameters of buffer time include an unexpected or expected large X amount of time where they’re physically and logistically in limbo.

It allows for reading, listening to podcasts, reflecting and thinking, blogging, creating social media posts.

What buffer time, when used wisely – having a window seat helps immensely with creativity and joy – allows for the brain to feed. Often, our brains are geared towards output and processing, in the case of work and practice. Or the brain is involved in managing movement and mediating between the conflicts of pain prevention and pain absorption (as in the case of workouts). Or it’s forming language and articulating ideas, balancing various emotions and intuitive senses as one holds a conversation.

It’s not often the brain is left simply to eat in peace. The ever changing visual stimuli of being on a vehicle is unimportant and rudimentary. The brain feeds lightly on what is entering the brain through the speakers – yet it knows that it does not have to engage fully in response. Sometimes ideas can be observed in various perspectives like a glass prism. Other times, it can feed, sit back, soak in the sun, and chill out.

Surprisingly, this is when the brain is able to come up with pretty excellent ideas. It’s the force of not having to try too hard that allows for soft whispers of revelations in the breeze.

Thus, the crazy idea for today isn’t to give your brain any particular demand. Give it that train, bus, or plane ride (if possible), or even a leisurely walk. Sit by a window and watch people walk by. Being momentarily and intentionally unproductive can lead to some pretty interesting things!