One of many things the pandemic has taught us is that it is ok to stop, take a breath, reflect, and simply do nothing. I turned to mindfulness meditation as a way of coping in the last Melbourne lockdown and it has helped in many areas of my life, personally and professionally. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment in an accepting, nonjudgmental way. It is a way of training yourself to focus your attention in a certain way to calm your mind. It originated in Buddhist teachings and has become increasingly popular with numerous meditation and breathing apps. More and more people and organisations are realising the benefits of being mindful. I noticed the shift in myself with increased patience, focus, calm, and joyful moments.
Mindfulness can make a big difference when it comes to sleep. Often, the reason people have trouble falling sleep or stay asleep is stress or racing thoughts. By practicing mindfulness as part of your nighttime routine, you can go to bed focused only on the present. This requires you to practice deep breathing, which eases your body into a more relaxed state. Deep breathing also helps your body produce more melatonin, a natural hormone that can improve your overall sleep quality. Research has found that practicing mindfulness is also effective in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. In addition, it contributes to well-being at work and leads to happier, healthier, and more productive employees. Studies show that mindfulness slows down heart rate and brain-wave patterns, boosts the immune system and cardiac functioning, and that people who meditate experience less stress, fewer health problems, improved relationships, and longer lives. Mindful employees present higher awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and body sensations. They can turn off work to pay attention to their surroundings, and they are as emotionally present in off-work times as they are during work hours.
In February 2021, I wrote a blog article about focussing our attention and why it is important to avoid switching tasks and reduce distractions. When we constantly flit from one task to another, we are not in a state of flow, and the quality of our work suffers. By practicing mindfulness, simply coming back to the present moment, we can train ourselves to become more focused, to get into a 'flow" state, and avoid distractions, resulting in increased productivity and better quality of work.
There are many ways to cultivate mindfulness at work, from defining your work space, walking during the day, to taking purposeful pauses when eating. One of the most reliable ways is to simply make time to meditate for twelve minutes a day. So for the start of 2022, I encourage you to inject a bit of mindfulness into your organisation, into your teams, into your work, and into your lives.
After three months visiting and working in Israel, Elle and Lachlan are back this month, just in time to enjoy the other half of summer. They are pleased to be back home, be in AEDT time zone, and be amongst Melbourne friends and food!
Our first public workshop for 2022 will be on the 21st-24th February. If you’re new to managing a team or a veteran looking to sharpen your axe, join us and a group of like minded people to learn the fundamentals of leading an engineering team. From leadership styles, team culture, giving feedback, effective one-on-ones, mentoring, prioritisation, to balancing speed, quality, and technical debt, this workshop will provide you with the tools and technical leadership skills that you can apply immediately. It will empower you to lead with knowledge and confidence. The workshop is half sold already. Secure your spot before they sell out!
After six months of full capacity of Leadership Coaching, we now have some slots available. Leadership coaching brings new insights into various problems. Questions and discussions can highlight deeper problems, and help you overcome them with more creative solutions. We coach the leaders of an organisation to help them maximise their abilities and lead their teams well. We will help you become a better leader that engages, inspires, and elicits involvement from everyone around you. Talk to us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re listening.
All hail dead week, the best week of the year — since we're on topic of taking a break... about the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, a time when nothing counts, and when nothing is quite real.
Don’t be afraid to pass your first language and accent to your kids — Australia is a multicultural society. Having an accent is special: it signals you are multilingual and you have the experience of having grown up with multiple cultural influences. So instead of a bias toward foreign languages, consider accentuating the positive, diversity, and uniqueness we each bring to the table.
The gift of it's your problem now — is an exploration of the gift economy. The article says that healthy society is created through constant effort, by all of us, as a gift to our fellow members. It's not extracted from us as a mandatory payment to our overlords who will do all the work. Free software is a gift. It also means the developers don't have to listen to our problems, and we cannot pay for this gift because it will not change the developers' motivations, but rather it taints the gift.
Angela Duckworth Explains How to Manage Your Goal Hierarchy — this is a podcast episode of People I Mostly Admire where Steven Levitt interviews Angela Duckworth about grit. My favourite takeaway was her definition of happiness. She says: "happiness is the feeling of pursuing goals that are intrinsically rewarding... Unhappiness is, I think, a goal conflict. 'Hey, I want to do this, but oh my gosh, I have this other goal. It’s also really important to me. And I can’t do both at once.'". So really happiness is resolving our goal conflict so that we can be content with our decisions.
The outside view — the outside view can help us filter information and tell us what not to do...
I’m a design manager at a consultancy. One of the best parts of this role is that I get to do client work and manage a team—I don’t have to pick between the two. I’m so inspired by working with amazing designers I manage, that the excitement carries into the client work. I also work closely with developers who have such a respect for design (and vice-versa) and we blur the lines in code which makes for more collaboration and less hand-off. I am also an occasional writer and conference speaker.
The time management! I want to do it all and do it well. Whether I’m working on client work, improving the hiring process for my team, or contributing to inclusion-related goals, I want to work really hard. Sometimes it's a challenge to take a break or step away, not because anyone is forcing me, but because I’m invested in improving the workplace. As a manager, I feel responsible for that.
Equipping my team with what they need. As a manager, I want to coach and support them, not have them solve problems exactly the way I’d do it. It’s also so important to me that they have opportunities to grow and form the path that makes sense for them whether that’s exploring management or individual contributor routes.
I’m really proud of trying to overcome some fears I have with writing about design, tech, and inclusion. It’s heavy material, and I worry a lot about how the writing comes across to readers, so I’ve spent a lot of this year doing a lot of writing. As I’ve worked on this, the imposter syndrome voice has gotten quieter and quieter.
Doing diversity and inclusion work (specifically consulting) for free. Its heavy work and because it's not a trackable metric, it’s seen as less important, when its one of the most important parts of work culture.
Cooking with my partner, hanging out with the dogs, or playing Animal Crossing… or all of the above.
Make your own boundaries (time, safety, etc). No one is going to make boundaries for you, so you have to make your own and hold them in place even when challenges arise.
That people cared more about each other. Seeing countries go on with business as usual and holding vaccines back from other countries while also blaming them for variants has been so hard to see. I wish we cared more about others not getting sick or ill. I wish we considered the health systems of the places we’re traveling to.
For 2022, I want to get more writing out. I want to get better at my knife skills so I can dice an onion or tomato well. I can chop ‘em, but its not as neat as I’d like.
That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! But part of the problem is that I don’t measure, I smell and taste ingredients. Since its around the holidays, I’ll go with something I ALWAYS make: Cranberry salsa and chips!
(Only if using fresh cranberries) add to stove with sugar, and cover berries with water up to the top of the cranberries and stir until it's a jelly. Let cool to about room temperature.
In a pot, add cumin, coriander, onions, garlic, peppers, onions, and a bit of water, and stir around for about a minute or two on medium, so they incorporate.
Add the cranberries, and move to medium-low. Mix around the ingredients so it all incorporates together. You may add a bit more water, but the consistency should be similar to a chunky salsa.
Add two tbsp of salt and stir.
Taste and see what’s missing. It should be a slight salter than sweet, but still tart. I tend to add more coriander powder for a smokier flavour.
Once you feel good about the taste and texture, move it to a bowl to cool, and depending on when you're serving, cover it and put it in the fridge.
When it's ready to serve, squeeze in the juice or one to two limes, depending on how much you want, and stir that in as well. Then, cover the bowl with a lot of coriander leaves and stir it all in, adding more on top for garnish.
Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!
Thank you for showing an interest in our newsletter and we hope that you enjoyed the read. Feel free to contact us if you have any feedback, a burning question, or just a recipe that you would like to share.
Until next time, keep learning!
Everyone at Blackmill