by Helen Ellwood
Time managementHow mindfulness can help your freelancer business .pngBeing a freelancer often involves working long hours. Some people believe that it’s important to carry on working, even when tired. They feel like heroes as they stagger about with sweaty armpits and cups of strong coffee, trying to meet that deadline when taking a break would’ve been wiser.
Planning versus worryingWhen you next find your mind going round and round like a washing machine tangling all the socks of your mind with pointless worry about the future or the past, just ask yourself a simple question. Is this situation something I have any control over? If so, then stop worrying and make a plan. Get out of bed. Put on your favourite slippers and make a cup of chamomile tea. Put your plan down on paper, but set a time limit on this so that you don’t spend all night working. Go back to bed and sleep like a kitten.
Stepping back from negative thoughtsJust for a moment, I’d like you to shut your eyes and think of anything but white rabbits. You must not think of white rabbits! Now open your eyes. I bet you saw lots and lots of cute little white bunnies bouncing around your inner mind, and the more you told them to go away, the more they bred. Hundreds of tiny little white cuties hopping around. It’s the same with any thought. If we tell ourselves we must not think negatively, or if we to force ourselves to have a quiet mind, we will just increase the chatter.
Thoughts are not facts!Thoughts are powerful and often believable. However, they are only thoughts. When you say to yourself, “I absolutely, totally must have that piece of chocolate cake”, you’re falling victim to an opinion, not a fact. You can choose not to have that cake and become a slim and healthy being. Maybe this isn’t such a good example. Chocolate cake is of course extremely important.
ConcentrationRegular mindfulness meditation increases our ability to focus our awareness. Studies have shown that just a small amount every day increases the number of neurones in the brain relating to concentration. As Daniel Goleman says in his recent book, Focus, we can learn to increase our ability to concentrate on our inner world, the outer world (the bigger picture) and we can increase our empathy and compassion for other people and ourselves.
CreativityAnother vital skill freelancers need is creativity. There are mindfulness exercises which encourage the ability to widen out our awareness to include all that we can sense. A creative brain is open, flexible and attentive. When you are on automatic pilot, often preoccupied with worries and concerns, it’s hard to be creative since the neocortex is rigid. When you are mindful, creative ideas can float to the surface of your flexible brain. – J Greenberg, K Reiner, N Meiran 2012
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