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The ROE of Minimizing Distraction

Posted by vivhudson on July 12, 2015 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (1)

With distractibility at an all time high, thanks to the availability of the internet and mobile devices, our ability to engage in what we are doing is becoming increasingly challenging.

US businesses alone are potentially losing 2 hours or more per day, on average, per worker, in lost productivity due to distraction. Added up across all the workers in the country and that is some serious dollars!

Applying distraction to our personal lives also, we are beginning to lose connection with the real people in our daily lives, taking them more for granted.

There is a need for many to create Rules of Engagement for our attention so we can reconnect with our life, work and relationships.

The Rules of Engagement

Creating philosophies around how you want to live your life can help you gain focus around what deserves your attention. Instead of letting distractions happen to you let them happen WITH you in your time and on YOUR conditions.

You can't change what you don't notice so the first job is to notice when and how you are distracted. Allow yourself to be aware of your distractions for one day. Make a list at the start of the day with headings for all your major distractions - social media, pop up notifications, IM, emails, phone calls, office interruptions and fires that need to be put out. Put a tally mark under each item for every distraction, no matter how small. Becoming aware of exactly how often things are distracting you will help you begin to moderate them, starting with the biggest offenders.

It is hard to manage what you don't measure!

Minimize your distractions once you identify the biggest culprits. Set aside a reward break for checking your social media after you have worked solidly for a period of time. Better still, stand up and walk around while you do it to enable the blood to re-energize your brain for your next focussed session. Apps are available to help provide timers to keep you on task such as Pomodoro. Focus Lock is available on Android to help you lock yourself out of some of your most distracting apps.

Train your brain to refocus through attention training. Take a minimum of 2 minutes to focus on just your breath. Do this several times a day and you will win back rewards in time through your increased ability to focus. Teaching your brain to stay on track with one thought is like growing it's muscle.

If you are on one device, don't use another. If you are on your computer, on a webinar, teleconference or watching TV don't be using another device at the same time. Also avoid multi using your device such as talking on the phone and surfing your social media at the same time. Our brains are smart enough to know when someone is not fully paying attention to us, even through a phone line.

Create rules around device usage while socializing. Do you find yourself checking your device each time it beeps or vibrates? When you are talking to others at work or in social situations, avoid using your device. Excuse yourself when you can no longer fight that burning need to check your phone, it's just good manners. If you are in a store, don't use your device while you are being served.

All our conversations become more meaningful and enjoyable when those involved are fully present. You don't want to get to a point in a friendship where you suddenly find out your friend, partner or children have checked out while you didn't notice. This check out could be permanent as we may not realize how big our relationship with our device has become.

Role modelling for our families. If you are a parent, your children learn their behavior from you. If you don't want your kids to be using their devices while talking to you then don't use yours. Make sure you have some 'down time' off your device and talk about how it makes you feel. In my family, we create 'Amish time' where we don't have devices for a day or afternoon and see what fun things exist in the real world. The last time I did this with my kids, they created an indoor fort that took up half the living room. Imaginations intact!

No devices when you are eating or drinking. Again this comes back to multi tasking as we can truly only focus on one thing at a time. By using your device while during meals you are mindlessly eating. Dividing our attention like that makes neither task more enjoyable. Use your meal time to train your brain further by noticing the smell, texture and flavor of your food. In fact you can use all five senses.

Tell those near and dear to you that you are working on reducing your distractions. Let them support you in becoming more present and more productive. They can give you gentle reminders to keep you on track and you may motivate them to be more present or focussed when they are interacting with you.

Life is for living and distractions are removing our focus from being fully present. Our lack of presence is also fuelling higher stress levels in our lives as our minds work on overdrive. Stop kidding yourself and saying you will learn to focus more tomorrow. There is no time like now. So get outside your comfort zone, say no to some of your distractions and see how you engage more fully in your work, life and relationships.


Do You Feel Driven To Distraction?

Posted by vivhudson on July 9, 2015 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (3)

In today's technological world it is hard to switch off from distraction. Our phones and tablets keep us connected constantly in our waking hours. When we consider how available we are now, it is difficult to know when to truly switch off.

Our inability to switch off is leaving us constantly distracted, being less able to pay attention, or find it harder to focus on the task at hand. Sometimes we use distractions for entertainment or amusement when we are procrastinating or looking for a reason to avoid our stresses or worries.

What are the real costs of all this distraction?

In 2007 Basex did a study that estimated distractions were costing US businesses $588 billion. This was before the ready availability of smartphones and tablets. I am sure the numbers now could be significantly higher.

Given that each time we change tasks it can take several seconds to several minutes to refocus, large chunks of time are being lost each day. Workers can be interrupted 5 to 10 times or more an hour through pop ups, email alerts, smart phone notifications and calls, noise or co-workers. It has been estimated that the average worker loses 2 hours per day to distractions. Even in a small team of 10 that equates to 20 hours per day or the equivalent of 3 workers!

Somehow in the last decade, we have become addicted to our devices. For the average adult, the internet serves as a leisure time activity 30% of the time. Along with our desire for social connectedness we are able to connect globally at anytime of the day or night. The internet does not sleep.

Not only do we watch TV now, we watch TV and surf the net or social media channels at the same time. No wonder our attention is suffering. Guilty!

Constant distraction takes a toll on the brain. Our ability to think through higher level tasks is more challenging as our brain adjusts to a more rote learning style, ideally suited for assembly line work. If you require higher level thinking in your role or your aspiring role it is time to stop being distracted.

How can we fix it?

We can use the science of the marshmallow experiment to re-educate our brain about the benefits of delayed gratification and self control. The marshmallow experiment exposed 4 year olds to 1 treat now or 2 treats if they waited. Those that waited had a higher level of pre frontal cortex activity (where all the high level thinking happens) and were more successful later in life than those that were impulsive.

Knowing that if you wait to check your messages later, there may be more, enables you to strengthen your resolve to not check your messages each time your phone vibrates.

Your brain is like a muscle that can be flexed and enable you to regain control over where it's attention goes.

You can start by setting some rules around your device usage. You can use technology even to help you! There are some apps that are available that can lock you out of selected apps such as social media for a period of time. Focus Lock is one of those - only developed for Android right now. I am waiting for the Apple equivalent.

Use other apps to set yourself a time to focus on a task and not allow yourself to be distracted. Turning off email, vibrations or sounds, blocking pop ups and logging out of different applications all work. You can also schedule time for email and phone calls, preferably in your less productive times of the day.

Set rules not to use or check your phone when you are interacting with others or when you are doing teleconferences or webinars! You know you all do it.

Set an intention for how you want to use your device and take back control. Don't respond to every message or email as soon as it comes in. Schedule time to address these, in YOUR time.

Meditation is slowly becoming more accepted, often referred to as mindfulness now. Take away the images of Tibetan monks and look at it instead as attention training. Mindfulness, with regular practice, can in a number of weeks begin to increase the grey matter in the higher thinking parts of your brain, helping you increase focus and concentration.

Focussing on your breath while being mindful, gives your internal organs a massage as well as your vagus nerve. What this means is that good things are happening inside you.

If you don't have time for 10 minutes, start with 2 minutes. If you have 2 hours a day to be distracted you can surely find 2 minutes to help you regain control of your own mind. And if you can't do it without technology - there's an app for that too!


Connect with your heart

Posted by vivhudson on June 29, 2015 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Live Life Outside Your Comfort Zone

Posted by vivhudson on June 22, 2015 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

What is FEAR stopping you from Achieving?

Posted by vivhudson on June 15, 2015 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (4)

Anytime we sense fear in our lives we could easily read this as a signal for change. Particularly if it is recurring. Some of you may know FEAR as standing for False Expectations Appearing Real. The dictionary definition is an 'unpleasant emotion that is caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat'.

In today's world, fear can be experienced on a daily basis, perhaps masked as stress or anxiety. When we don't attend to those feelings and allow them to continue, we impact our health and wellbeing. We also allow those fears to hold us back.

Looking at the definition of fear, often the things that frighten us may not truly be something that will cause us pain. At worst it is often what we perceive may happen and cause us to associate with shame or guilt.

Instead of facing our fears, we often run from them or attempt to hide the fear we may be feeling. Fear makes us feel insecure. Maslow's hierarchy of needs puts security at the base. When we experience fear, we rock our very base of existence.

Common fears often are based on a perceived 'threat'. These fears could be around confronting someone, saying no, public speaking, speaking up in a meeting, your boss, job security, asking for something you want, not having enough knowledge or even thinking others won't like you.

To overcome any fear, requires courage. There is a quote: 'To get something you never had, you must do something you have never done'. By not facing our fears, challenging them and expanding our comfort zones, we perpetuate a vicious circle of fear. Fear can take a stranglehold on your opportunity to find satisfaction in life and cause you to give up on your aspirations.

What if we could face our fears? How different would your life look? What would now be possible?

Looking at a world without fear is a way to see what could be available to you. In my life I have experienced fears. In my life I have also done many things fearlessly where others would not.

Some of my childhood fears stemmed around asking for something and being told no. I remember having to pluck up the courage for a week or more before I would ask if I could go to the school disco in high school. Many times I was allowed to go but the times I wasn't I feared the reprimand of asking for something that was wrong for me to be asking. My father had a big booming voice and had an art of belittling people. If my father said no, I no longer had control and maybe that was as upsetting as anything.

As life progressed I learnt to look at the worst case scenario. If I could find a solution for the worst case scenario then it was something I could probably handle. I also learnt to look at how much it would matter a week from now. I tell this to my kids now when they fight over trivial things and even they ask each other, 'will it matter a week from now'? If the answer is no, then it's not worth worrying about.

When you end up in a situation where you are facing a fear, determine what your worst case scenario is and weigh that up against the best case. What is going to happen is probably somewhere in the middle. By facing our fears, bite size steps at a time, we can begin to conquer them and expand our horizons.

Find small instances where you can say no, express an opinion, talk to a small group or ask for something outside of your norm to slowly chunk down your fears. Once you realise that more of them exist in your own mind than in the real world you will do more and be more.


I look to the end of my life and ponder what would I like to look back on when I am in my twilight years. What stories would I like to tell my grandkids (who don't exist yet). This motivates me as much as anything for time is short and our most valuable commodity. I don't want to look back on a life filled with regret of things I 'should' have done. Ask the dying and they will say one of their biggest regrets is not to be brave enough to pursue their dreams and aspirations. There is no time like now to start.

So I say live life outside your comfort zone, because one day you will wish you had and make fear your friend.


How Do You Feel When You Are Recognized?

Posted by vivhudson on May 27, 2015 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

As I get nearer to approaching my 50th year the insights I have on my life to this point seem to be coming thick and fast. Maybe it is some of the people I have been mixing with, maybe the burning inside me that if I don't get some of this stuff done then it's going to be too late. Maybe it's not having the physical demands of a young family and learning now about what I really want to teach my kids.

In conversations of this past week I reflect on behaviours of my past self. The things I realise I did so much for recognition.

Recognition can be a big motivator for many and obviously to me for many years. I was the over achiever (not to be confused with high achiever). People would often comment on how much I accomplished, or perhaps seemed to accomplish. I thought it was all in how you used your time and the choices you made around that.

I have long made my life full and busy. Even as a teen, engaging in the work force I studied and managed to fill up my world with 4 part time jobs that included working at a racetrack, veterinary clinic and later a pharmacy, tutoring and selling Tupperware.

I learnt to sew from the talents of my wonderful and caring Mum who later was shocked when I learnt to patchwork and is probably still dumbfounded to this day how I found the patience for that. I also found a joy from cooking and learnt to express my creative talents in these two areas.

I would excel at dinner parties, carefully mapping out the menu days in advance and my sewing efforts I would put on show. I realise now I was looking for external recognition. What was the real benefit of that?

In our quest for recognition, we seek outward approval. By doing so, we effectively give others control for our own sense of self.

In my work life, having a degree and my own business helped add to my status and quest to be recognised. The thing is the bigger I got in a way, the smaller I felt.

Over the last few years I have shed my skin entirely. I essentially gave up my career as a pharmacist, sold my business and moved countries. It has taken a little time to find myself again and I have learnt to listen to myself more rather than looking for the recognition of others. This has given me the space to think about what I want.

It seems that shedding my skin entirely has made it easy to take new steps. My life experience and the willingness to let go and start again has freed my mind in many ways. One of my friends felt the same way after embarking on a similar journey. Perhaps I no longer carry my stories with me that we may perceive people have about us if that makes sense.

I don't believe you need to make a drastic life change to find more of yourself. What I do think is that we need to ponder on how much do we do for others without truly realizing what influences we are giving away. Where are your priorities really?

Don't let your achievements be about what others will say. Pause to think how this can really limit you. Do them because it is something you truly want. By tuning into this more, it is easier to get clear on your life objectives and if you are a 'yes' person like me, what to say no to.

If you find recognition is one of your values, I ask you to think again about how you can make that value more meaningful and pertinent to you. For me now my value of recognition has now become one of growth. My aim is to live and learn each day, a little better than I did yesterday and hopefully inspire others to do the same.

Vivien Hudson is the mind behind Brain, Body and Business integrating the science of the brain and body to effect real change, be human and lead ... in life and business. http://www.brainbodyandbusiness.com/


What it is to BE Human

Posted by vivhudson on May 26, 2015 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I have begun to ponder the meaning of what it is to be human. A friend of mine recently quoted we are human beings, not human doings, which got me thinking ...


Generally speaking, the western world has equated life success as being a list of accomplishments and material acquisitions. Our education, possessions and things we have done are worth more than who we are in any given moment. We spend our days constantly doing. I admit to being guilty of the above.


So I ask what is it to be a human being?


To be human, I believe, having humility is a powerful first step. In recent years I have learnt the power humility holds. As humans we face many fears around what the thoughts of others about us may be. What if we fail? What will everyone think? What if I don't make it? Often a sense of shame can surface as we realise our imperfections. We may not want to let others down due to lack of confidence in our own abilities or think maybe someone else can do it better than I can.


We can operate in the hope of not being found out or others not caring, at a mental cost. We can trap ourselves into thinking everyone thinks the same way we do, yet still not be willing to talk openly about our fears.

The first time I moved past the comfort zone of admitting I did something that I felt a sense of shame about I felt liberated. I no longer held myself in a place of fear or having to hide. Too often we fear the negative consequences of admitting a mistake. At the end of the day we all are HUMan and HUMility is part of that.

Where is the now?

What we fail to remember is we live in the now and the now is the only certainty we have. In our quest of doing we rob ourselves of the moments that add texture and depth to our lives, instead engaging our brains on the future or past. Many of the future thinkings we have may never come to fruition and the time we spend dwelling on the past may not add to what we have before us today.


We want to afford some planning for the future by knowing what we want (and this sounds simpler than what it is). We can attach what we think we want by seeing what others have and therefore believing that is what we want too. This is a whole other conversation for another day.


In thinking every moment we have may be our last we can learn to appreciate more of the richness of what lies before us, in gratitude for the people around us and for what we have rather than what we don't have. Ask people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness or those in their twilight years how they view life now and what they might change if they had the chance.


So What Is It To BE?


To be is to exist or happen now. To simply be is to find peace within yourself. The true gift of life is to be present in the here and now with our senses fully awakened to the smells, sounds and sights of what surrounds us. To find true connection in the people we interact with each day, without judgement. Judgement only truly serves to help us feel better about ourselves at a cost ....

You may think that you need to slow down to learn to BE. The reality is that even a 2 minute chunk of time taken on a daily basis can help you slow down, breathe and be.

The question to ask yourself is HOW can I BE?

Regular practice will allow this in time to become more automatic, bringing with it the richness that all life has to offer, with peace and gratitude. 

We really don't know what is around the corner so go out on a limb and BE more today and see how it changes you.

Vivien Hudson is the mind behind Brain, Body and Business integrating the science of the brain and body to effect real change, be human and lead ... in life and business http://www.brainbodyandbusiness.com/


'Dealing With It' Success Strategies For The School Of Life

Posted by vivhudson on May 23, 2015 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Resilience will be one of the major success factors in life as we move deeper into this century. Given how far technology has come in the last 10 years, it is almost hard to fathom what the next 10 years will deliver. Our children are being educated for jobs we don't even know exist yet and the foundations of what they may need to know have not yet been embedded into the standards of traditional school education. This lack of certainty will require development of good coping skills and the ability to 'deal with it' in developing resilience.

The need for life skills is at its highest as depression, dysfunctional families, changing technology and consumerism have become some of the hallmarks of our society. Our forefathers dealt with the Great Depression, perhaps a war or two, saving up for what they needed or wanted and hanging on to marriages that were perhaps less than perfect . They learnt to 'deal with it'.

Society may have dictated a lot of how people behaved back then, boundaries were placed on spending and hardship was known by many. They may not have seemed happier but my belief is that many were more satisfied with their life than many of us are today.

What we 'deal with' today seems vastly different.

Today, too many of us look like the duck on the water, gliding through life, whilst beneath the surface the feet are working hard unbeknownst to even those close to us. Many of us may 'look' like we are 'dealing with it' at a cost. A cost on our health, relationships and finances. Internalized stress and lack of action are taking their toll by not truly 'dealing with it'. It being whatever stress or problem you perceive.

Resilience And 'Dealing With It'

One of my life lessons in 'dealing with it' was not being able to have a branded 'Barbie'. Major dilemma I know. When I grew up, Barbie was the coveted toy much like an iPhone is now. My family being on the work hard for everything you get side of the spectrum bought me a 'me too' version of Barbie. I did love that doll though secretly I really wanted 'Barbie'. In our insulated worlds as children this was a major dilemma to me.

My belief is missing out on some of those things as a child, sets you up for resilience as you get older. It may seem trivial. I believe we glean many life lessons from facets of what happen to us as a child and the examples set by our parents.

I also believe that the parents and teachers that were stern but fair helped guide me in a path of resilience and conscience. Burning a hole in the carpet or hurting myself helped me face those realities that life does have consequences and that sometimes it is better to think things through first. When they did not turn out on the sunny side then I had myself to look to for accountability.

How can we learn to be more resilient?

Knowing ourselves is the key to building our ability to become more resilient in this world of constant change. Through exposure to levels of risk or omission throughout our lives we can learn to tap into our internal compass and become more resilient.

By owning our own decisions and their consequences we can begin to weather the storms of challenges and change. Both actions and inactions have consequences. Asking "how" you deal with the consequences of actions or inactions will help build this compass. This is not taking a blame mentality, it's more about taking ownership.

Exposing yourself to a level of risk, allows you to create your own judgments and "deal with" the consequences through real life lessons. When our own decisions lead us to a less than optimal position then "'how' will you deal with it" is the question to ask.

Vivien Hudson is the brain behind Brain,Body and Business using the science of the brain and body to effect change and understand what it is to BE human and lead ... in life and business.  http://www.brainbodyandbusiness.com


Your Body Speaks Volumes

Posted by vivhudson on April 19, 2015 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

We take our bodies for granted and seldom slow down enough to listen to what our body is telling us or telling others. The time pressures and busyness of our western minds rob us from the ability to truly tune into ourselves.

The numbers indicate that 55% of what we say is body language, 38% is the tone we use and 7% the actual words we say. This brings another meaning to actions speak louder than words!

Our stance, breath, position of our arms, legs, shoulders and facial expressions can all tell more about what we say or are thinking than the words we use.

With self knowledge and awareness, we can learn to change what our bodies are saying to create new messages. A form of 'fake it till you make it'. Through an understanding of what our bodies are currently saying, subtle changes in the way we stand, our facial expressions and posturing, we can create new pathways for our thoughts and impressions.

Many idioms stem from our bodies and can be very telling such as 'shouldering responsibility' or 'taking the wind out of my sails' and 'going weak at the knees'. For any emotional response, there is an equivalent response in the body. The intricacy of our muscles and connections through our nervous system and biochemistry make our bodies a fascinating science. Learning our bodies intimately helps us to identify how, when and why those responses are happening, if we are willing to pay attention.

At any given moment you can pause to pay attention to what your body is saying. Where is your breath for example? If it is high and tight in your chest, you will be robbing your body of the oxygen it needs to help your muscles relax. Simply taking a moment to notice this enables you the ability to take a full but not forced breath and help yourself relax and have more respond ability.

Having a tense disposition naturally leans us to being more reactive when our body is not present. Our brain is not in a relaxed state to deal with challenges and hence will operate more from the fight or flight response. Being more present in our bodies enables us to notice when we are in an anxious state and consciously make adjustments.

By beginning to tune into your body more, you can start your path to change. Observe others and see what you think their bodies are saying. Are they open and receptive? Are they nervous or confident? What makes you think that?

To begin your path to changing what your body is saying, look at someone you would aspire to be like. What is their body saying? You can fake it till you make it. By repositioning ourselves, we can in turn change our thoughts and regain control of our inner selves. Know your body so you can say what you really want.

At Brain, Body and Business we work with groups and individuals to help you understand your brain and body better and effect real change.


FAIL ... First Attempts In Learning

Posted by vivhudson on April 6, 2015 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (0)

One of my favorite questions was 'What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?'

Our fear of failure can hold us back and cause us to do nothing at all. By allowing fear to hold us back, we are likely to miss some of life's greatest opportunities. We attach FEAR (False Expectations Appearing Real) and shame to failure. This fear and shame can stem back from our childhood years where we may have been undermined or humiliated by our parents or teachers.

Signs of fear of failure can be procrastination and self sabotage. If you find yourself only tackling things you can do perfectly, you could fear failure. Those that use self talk such as 'I'm not good enough' or 'I'm not smart enough' are good excuses to not try and therefore avoid 'failing'.

After attending my daughters school awards presentation last week I discovered a new meaning for the word FAIL - First Attempts In Learning. It made me realise that I had failed many times in life. I realise because I failed, I learned so much more.

I used to say to my kids, do you want to learn the easy way or the hard way? They realised when I said this that maybe I had some useful information and perhaps it was a good idea to listen to me. Of course the 'easy way' was my advice to avoid them getting hurt or having some other minor calamity. Over time the novelty of learning the easy way has worn off somewhat and it seems that the hard way is often their preferred option.

The good thing about learning the hard way is that learning at a visceral level occurs. This level of learning becomes more instinctual and deep seated. This allows you to become more intuitive in your ability to read situations and face challenges.

Now if I see my kids won't endure any kind of permanent damage to themselves or others, letting them learn the hard way is a good way for them to learn deeply, build resilience and bounce back. There are still situations where parental advice is imperative to avoid harm. Perhaps letting them fail more often at a younger age will help our children attempt more as they get older and fear failure less.

Failure is a vital step and the key to opening more doors for deeper learning. In my years in business I am now proud to say I failed many times which allowed me to learn and understand at a deeper level.

Just as you wouldn't let your child drive a car without proper training, you too want to make sure you have someone to ask when evolving your business and working through challenges and the stakes are high. Look at the situation for your business and deem if this is a time when you want to learn the easy way or the hard way. If the stakes are high, seek out a mentor, professional advice or a coach to guide you to making more informed decisions.

After pondering the new meaning for FAIL I am looking forward to failing some more. I'd also now like to think about my original question and change it to be 'What would you attempt if you knew you could fail?'