There is no denying that our lives continue to become busier and more full-on. Between 6AM to 10PM you are pushing the limits of time to establish your career, see the world and maintain a social life. This is when every hour in your day counts. This is where you feel alive. But living a full-contact life doesn’t always mean moving in fast-forward motion. It also requires recognizing when to do the opposite: pause and be present.
Experience design director Jacob Simons understands that although his days consist of creative meetings and huge strategic decisions, he can’t continue being effective if he doesn’t give himself permission to unplug. “The life I’m inspired by is also super exhausting. We as human beings have a battery life – it’s a real sign of strength if you know when to say, ‘No, I need a break.’”
Simons takes us through his five-step process to insert mindfulness into our lives – even during our non-stop 12-hour workdays.
1. MIND-MAP OVER COFFEE
Start your day with 10 minutes of writing out your thoughts in a mind map. Simons chooses one central idea to focus on and builds out from there. “Mind-mapping is a tool that allows you to explore your psyche in a non-linear fashion. Life is chaotic. When we try to use tools that are organized it just naturally doesn’t line up.”
2. GET SOME FRESH AIR
After a draining day, Simons clears his head by stepping outside. “Meaningful activity outdoors gives you new perspectives – and with that comes new ways of approaching things. You find a different part of yourself because you’re not in your traditional workplace falling into traditional behaviours.” Hot tip: ask your co-worker for a walking meeting and leave the conference room behind.
3. UNPLUG WHEN NECESSARY
Simons recommends scheduling your days off ahead of time. “I took a step back with a sabbatical to give myself the space to breathe. I was not being results-oriented – I discovered the constant grind wasn’t fulfilling.” Next long weekend? Book your calendar to have zero commitments.
4. PRACTICE VULNERABILITY
For Simons, getting emotional leads to a better character and work ethic. Remember: honesty really is the best policy. “For a long time I was trying to be the quintessential man – buck up, handle anything, thick skin, never tired. Instead, talk to someone honestly. You get to the real meat of it.”
5. DON'T TAKE THE EASY ROAD
Never be too afraid (or too busy) to push past your own boundaries. “A full-contact life is new and constantly evolving in transformative ways. You’re going to take risks and you’re going to go for broke – sometimes you’re going to be broke.” So go ahead, chase that crazy idea without the fear of failure. Simons says, you will never regret going after your passion. “We always think of all the achievements but sometimes it just doesn’t work out. And that’s okay.”