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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.
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Why You Should Reset Your Brain and How to Do It

The most emailed article on The New York Times website today is an article called Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain. It’s by Daniel Levitin of McGill University and it explains the findings of research that he did with a colleague at Stanford. The big headline is that they’ve identified a part of the brain called the insula that controls the interplay between focused attention and daydreaming. The brain has two neural networks that manage attention. One is for focus; the other is for daydreaming. They’re designed to counterbalance each other. The insula helps them do that.

As I discuss in my forthcoming book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative, with all of the input that’s coming at us in every 21st century day and all that we’re trying to cram into a 168 hour week, it’s easy for the brain to get overwhelmed. As Levitin writes in his article, “If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s a reason: The processing capacity of the conscious mind is limited.”

The research (and perhaps your personal experience) shows that you need to take regular breaks to reset your brain so that the focused attention ...

One Habit Hack That Works: Hit the Showers

One of the features in my forthcoming book,Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative, is a series of sidebars called Habit Hacks. The habit hacks are simple things that are easy to do and likely to make a difference in feeling less overworked and overwhelmed.

I have a feeling that I’m going to be collecting a lot of good habit hacks over the next few years. Just last week for instance, I heard one from a client who’s been working on incorporating deep breathing into his day as a way to be more mindful (aware and intentional) and less stressed.

Earlier this year, we kicked around the idea of him sitting in his car and breathing for a few minutes before he left the parking garage to go into his building in the mornings. That worked some days for him but not others depending on his commute and his early morning schedule.

In the meantime, he realized that taking a shower each workday morning is one thing he does that is consistently reliable. So, he’s started the habit hack of taking three deep breaths while he’s standing in the shower each morning. It wakes him up ...

Weird Al Takes Business Buzzword Abusers to School

Years ago, someone introduced me to a game called BS Bingo. (They actually spelled it out but I’m keeping things PG here.) If you were playing, you had a bingo type card where each square contained a common business buzzword. You could take the card to a meeting and check off the boxes as you heard the words used. When you got five in a row in any direction, you yelled out, “BS!” and you were the winner.

God bless Weird Al Yankovic for bringing BS Bingo into the 21st century. His recently released the video for Mission Statement, the last song on his new album (which hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart last week.).

Making world class use of a whiteboard, Weird Al makes the case that “we must all efficiently operationalize our strategies,” and “leverage our core competencies.” Because, of course, at the end of the day it’s all about the synergy.

If it just doesn’t feel appropriate to yell out, “BS!” in your next management meeting, watch this video instead. It’s hilarious and at least it proves you’re not the only one being driven out of your mind.

What was ...

How to Overcome Your Fear of Thinking

If you haven’t seen it, take a look at this recent article in The New York Times.

It’s a fascinating recap of a study at the University of Virginia that confirms what you may already know. Lots of us are keep ourselves “super busy” because we’d rather have a day packed with doing stuff than leave anytime to be alone with our thoughts. The UVA study showed that most people don’t like being in their own heads for even six minutes because if you give yourself time to think you might have to think about difficult, unresolved problems or challenges.

Just like you can’t solve a problem if you don’t know about it, you can’t solve it if you don’t think about it. But if you don’t think about it, it’s just going to eat at you. It will still be lurking in the background as you avoid thinking about it.

The impact of all that lurking is stress and anxiety that will cause you to think that much less clearly. Avoiding your thoughts damages your relationships because not tuning into your own thoughts and feelings makes it much less ...

Don’t Burn Your Calendar at Both Ends

Perhaps you think I meant to use the word candle rather than calendar in the title of this post. Nope, calendar was what I meant but the idea came from a brain blip I had recently.

I was conducting interviews with about a dozen colleagues and friends of a new executive coaching client. One of my questions was, “What do you hope he gets out of this coaching engagement?” and someone answered, “I hope he’ll quit burning the candle at both ends.” When I went back to review my conversation notes to write the report, I saw that what I had actually written down was, “I hope he’ll quit burning the calendar at both ends.”

I laughed at my mistake and thought that there’s actually something to that. So many people today are burning the calendar at both ends. I see so many people who are trying to cram way more stuff than they can possibly fit into the 168 hours that each of us are given each week. In the category of true confessions, I’m sometimes one of those people myself.

But, based on personal experience, the best practices of my clients and what I ...