Menu

THE

FANCY HANDS BLOG

Be the CEO of your mind.

A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is defined as "the highest-ranking corporate officer (executive) or administrator in charge of total management of an organization."

Melanie Greenberg wrote the below about how to gain CEO-style management...over your own mind: 

Buddha said, "to enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to yourself and your family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind."

You may have tried to control your thoughts at one time or another. With the aid of self-help books, perhaps you really tried to “be positive” and “show negativity the door.”  And this may have even worked for a while. But sooner or later, you probably found yourself back at the starting point. I’m here to tell you that there is another way. And that is to become the CEO of your own mind – skillfully directing it to live in harmony with the other players of self - body and spirit.

If you follow the six steps below, you will be the master of yourself in no time.

STEP 1:  LISTEN AND ACKNOWLEDGE.

Like all good leaders, you’re going to have to listen to your disgruntled employee, and acknowledge that you’re taking its message seriously. Minds, like people, can relax and let go when they feel heard and understood. Practice gratitude and thank your mind for its contribution. “Thank you, brain, for reminding me that if I don’t succeed in making more sales, I might get fired.” “Thank you for telling me that I might always be alone and never make a family if I don't find love soon.”  “These are important areas of life, and I need to pay attention to them, and do my best to take advantage of every opportunity that comes up. I also need to learn from past experiences so I don’t keep making the same mistakes.”

STEP 2: MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR MIND.

You may not like what your mind does or the way it conducts itself. In fact, all that negativity can be downright irritating sometimes. But the fact is, you’re stuck with it, and you can’t (or wouldn’t want to) lobotomize it away. In the book The Happiness Trap, Dr. Russ Harris uses the example of the Israelis and the Palestinians to illustrate your relationship with your mind’s negative thoughts. These two old enemies may not like each other’s way of life, but they’re stuck with each other. If they wage war on each other, the other side retaliates, and more people get hurt and buildings destroyed. Now they all have a lot less energy to focus on building the health and happiness of their societies.

Just as living in peace would allow these nations to build healthier and more prosperous societies, so will making peace with your mind. Accepting that negative thoughts and feelings will be there, that you can’t control them, can allow you to focus on your actions in the present moment, so you can move ahead with your most important goals. You don’t necessarily have to like the thoughts or agree with them, you just have to let them be there in the background of your mind, while you go out and get things done.

STEP 3: REALIZE YOUR THOUGHTS ARE JUST THOUGHTS.

Most of the time we don’t “see” our minds. They just feel like part of us.  Dr. Steve Hayes, the founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, uses the concept of being “fused with your thoughts” to illustrate this relationship. To be fused means to be stuck together, undifferentiated. You feel like your thoughts and feelings are YOU and so you accept them unconditionally as the truth without really looking at them. “I’m thinking I’m a failure and boring – gee, I must be a failure and boring.”  This kind of simplistic logic seems to prevail because we can’t see our own minds, so we have difficulty stepping outside ourselves and getting an objective observer’s perspective.

In actuality, our thoughts are passing mental events, influenced by our moods, states of hunger or tiredness, physical health, hormones, sex, the weather, what we watched on TV last night, what we ate for dinner, what we learned as kids, and so on. They are like mental habits. And, like any habits, they can be healthy or unhealthy, but they take time to change. Just like a couch potato can’t get up and run a marathon right away, we can’t magically turn off our spinning negative thought/feeling cycles without repeated practice and considerable effort. And even then, our overactive amygdalas will still send us the negative stuff sometimes.

STEP 4: OBSERVE YOUR OWN MIND.

The saying “know thine enemy” is also  applicable to our relationship with our own minds. Just like a good leader spends his time walking through the offices, getting to know the employees, we need to devote time to getting to know how our minds work day-to-day.  Call it mindfulness, meditation, or quiet time. Time spent observing your mind is as important as time spent exercising. When you try to focus your mind on the in and out rhythm of your breath, or on the trees and flowers when you walk in nature, what does your mind do? If it’s like mine, it wanders all over the place – mostly bringing up old worries or unsolved problems from the day. And, if left unchecked, it can take you out of the peacefulness of the present moment, and into a spiral of worry, fear, and judgment.

Mindfulness involves not only noticing where your mind goes when it wanders, but also gently bringing it back to the focus on breath, eating, walking, loving, or working. When you do this repeatedly over months or years, you begin to retrain your runaway amygdala. Like a good CEO, you begin to know when your mind is checked out or spinning its wheels, and you can gently guide it to get back with the program. When it tries to take off on its own, you can gently remind it that’s it’s an interdependent and essential part of the whole enterprise of YOU.

STEP 5: RETRAIN YOUR MIND TO REWIRE YOUR BRAIN.

There is an old and rather wise saying, “we are what we repeatedly do.”  To this, I would add “we become what we repeatedly think.”  Over long periods, our patterns of thinking become etched into the billions of neurons in our brains, connecting them together in unique, entrenched patterns. When certain brain pathways – connections between different components or ideas – are frequently repeated, the neurons begin to “fire” or transmit information together in a rapid, interconnected sequence. Once the first thought starts, the whole sequence gets activated.

Autopilot is great for driving a car, but no so great for emotional functioning. For example, you may have deep-seated fears of getting close to people because you were mistreated as a child. To learn to love, you need to become aware of the whole negative sequence and how it’s biasing your perceptions, label these reactions as belonging to the past, and refocus your mind on present-moment experience. Over time, you can begin to change the wiring of your brain so your prefrontal cortex (the executive center, responsible for setting goals, planning and executing them), is more able to influence and shut off your rapidly firing, fear-based amygdala (emotion control center). And, this is exactly what brain imaging studies on effects of mindfulness therapy have shown.

STEP 6:  PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION.

The pioneer of self-compassion research, Dr. Kristin Neff, described this concept as “a healthier way of relating to yourself.” While we can’t easily change the gut-level feelings and reactions that our minds and bodies produce, we can change how we respond to these feelings. 

When we judge our feelings, we lose touch with the benefits of those feelings. They are valuable sources of information about our reactions to events in our lives, and they can tell us what is most meaningful and important to us. Emotions are signals telling us to reach out to for comfort or to take time out to rest and replenish ourselves. Rather than criticizing ourselves, we can learn new ways of supporting ourselves in our suffering. We may deliberately seek out inner and outer experiences that bring us joy or comfort – memories of happy times with people we love, the beauty of nature, creative self-expression. Connecting with these resources can help us navigate the difficult feelings while staying grounded in the present.

SUMMARY

To be a successful CEO of your own mind, you need to listen, get to know it, acknowledge its contribution, realize its nature, make peace with it, implement a retraining or employee development program, and treat it kindly. It will repay you with a lifetime of loyaly and service to the values and goals that you most cherish.

False Evidence Appearing Real.

Is fear sabotaging your productivity?

The CEO of FacileThings, Francisco Sáez says: 

We all know what fear is, since we live with it every day. We are afraid of changing jobs, public speaking, starting or ending a relationship, confronting people, being rejected…fear can make you abandon your business or the love of your life.

It is shown that when companies use the fear factor in the workplace (fear of not achieving goals, fear of conflict, fear of not being good enough, fear of not seeming productive), employees work harder but worse. The anxiety this climate generates affects people’s memory and ability to concentrate.

Types of fear

Fear of failure occurs especially when you do something you had not done before, something new, unique. Sometimes it is hidden by an extreme perfectionism that paralyzes work and prevents completion of projects.

To conquer it, you must understand that this fear is merely a misunderstanding of the learning process. When you try to create a new future, there are no molds, you have to experience. Consequently, failure is a part of the process that should not stop you. Simply, you must analyze what went wrong and make it work.

Fear of success is, if anything, even more common. It prevents you to catch the good opportunities. It makes you believe that you won’t be able to deal with such a challenging situation.

To conquer it, you must improve your self-esteem and the best way to do that is to act. Try to do the best you can and you will be satisfied although ultimately you would not get the best outcome. This way your self-esteem will be enhanced for future challenges.

Sleeping with the enemy

To make matters worse, when you try to make changes in your life, it turns out that the most important people for you - those who are supposed to stand by you - often don't entirely agree. They are accustomed to interact with you in a certain way and breaking that pattern of behavior bothers them. So you need to add the fear of worsening your relationships to the natural fear of the new.

If this is common and usually ends in your passivity, you should start questioning your environment. Are people around you willing to help you grow? Or are they negative thinkers who make things difficult?

If you stand firm in your intentions to overcome your inner challenges and give good example of this - not in an aggressive way -  people who love you will find the strength to go with you.

Moreover, it is natural that, little by little, negative people will shy away from you, and you, almost unconsciously, move towards more motivating people that are willing to support and inspire you. Connect with people who have already gone through something similar. They will help you see the path and fear of the unknown will be minimized.

Conquer your fear

In general, we are afraid of things that are beyond our control. So we must find ways to develop more confidence in our ability to handle any situation.

Acting is the best way to gain that confidence. Visualize the result, define the next actions and take the first step. Incorporate into your life the trial-and-error mechanism as a natural way of getting things done. Act, measure your progress and correct what does not work. Adapt. Repeat. 

It is possible there are some fears at the moment preventing you from doing many things, forcing you to accept work you should not do and, ultimately, undermining your productivity.

A little fear can keep you motivated, but uncontrolled fear will kill your productivity.

Feel your fear and move forward anyway.

Mind-mapping your path to success.

In James Fallows' interview with David Allen of "Gettings Things Done" fame for the Atlantic, David replied with this when asked how we can all get our busy lives under control:

"All the stuff that is coming in needs to be externalized. I don't know that I could get it any simpler than that.

Right or left?

(Click to enlarge)

Too Hot to Handle, Too Cold to Hold.

The temperature at Fancy Hands HQ varies widely. Our methods of heating and cooling are tempermental and inefficient. Add that to a handful of people toying with the thermostat everyday, adjusting it to the temperature that they feel is perfect for them, and you get a lot of ups and downs. 

Nick, one of our developers, brought an electric imp in so that he could chart the scale of our thermodifferentiation (I think I just made that word up).

You're a giver.

Have trouble thinking of gift ideas for friends and family? Throughout the year, whenever you hear them mention something they want or like in conversation, add it to the "notes" section of their contact in your phone. As their birthday or a holiday approaches, you'll have a cheat sheet ready to go.

Your Fancy Hands assistants can help you buy the gift, and you'll be a hero! 

Nap time?

(Click to enlarge) 

(Via Daily Infographic)

26 Time Management Tips

Should I check my email?

Morning music motivator.

Time management tip for your mornings: make a playlist exactly the length of time that you have from the time you get up to the time you need to leave the house.

No more checking the clock.

Make the last three songs your favorite high-energy tunes. That will not only warn you that it's time to wrap things up and leave, but you'll dance out the door with a spring in your step.

Time is money.

Focus! Or, take a nap and send us your work to do. 

Streamline your timeline.

Oliver Emberton shares these tips for simple time management: 

The secret to mastering your time is to systematically focus on importance and suppress urgency.

Relax for Productivity.

"A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.

Spending more hours at work often leads to less time for sleep and insufficient sleep takes a substantial toll on performance. In a study of nearly 400 employees, published last year, researchers found that sleeping too little — defined as less than six hours each night — was one of the best predictors of on-the-job burn-out. A recent Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity.

The Stanford researcher Cheri D. Mah found that when she got male basketball players to sleep 10 hours a night, their performances in practice dramatically improved: free-throw and three-point shooting each increased by an average of 9 percent.

The Manual of YOU.

Ari Meisel, productivity genius and longtime Fancy Hands customer, guest blogs for us today: 

Do-licious Integration!

We're pleased to announce our newest feature - an integration with the

Do platform

End it right.

On Monday, we talked about 14 things you should do at the start of your work day in order to accomplish a focused and balanced day of productivity. 

How you wind down your work day is just as important. Jacquelyn Smith shared this on her Forbes blog:  

“How you end the day is critical, as it has much to do with how you start the next day,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant. “It’s half of the puzzle of being productive.”

Start your morning right.

There are many things you can do to keep your head and your heart clear, centered and focused at work. 

One of them, of course, is to become a member of Fancy Hands and delegate your small, tedious chores to our team of assistants. Our clients are amazed at how much time they save by outsourcing phone calls and research to us.

It’s also helpful to approach your work day in an organized, efficient manner. Jacquelyn Smith offers these steps to get off on the right foot. 

Managing Meeting Madness.

How many times have you been one of the people below in a meeting; daydreaming, complaining, or missing it altogether because you were so sure that it was a waste of time? 

Once a Week

5

Requests a month
$6/request
-20%

A Few Times a Week

15

Requests a month
$5/request
-12%

Every Day

30

Requests a month
$5/request
-4%

Looking for a dedicated assistant?

Fancy Hands is a recurring subscription. Signing up for any plan means you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Payment processing by