It’s the first week of fall and for some reason or another, the universe still seems chaotic. My to-do lists have to-do lists…know what I mean? It’s only September and I need to focus! I have too many things to do and being distracted or anxious does not help in any way, shape or form.
One technique I have been experimenting with this fall has been a self-created focusing exercise: I’ll spend 5 minutes (and only 5 minutes) reflecting back on some quiet time from the past summer. We have dear friends, Tammy and Francisco, from when we lived in Boston and my wife and I make sure it’s always part of our summer to go up and spend time with our friends. Moreover, our boys might not ever talk to us again if they do not get to visit “their cousins” Max and Isabella each year.
In August, we had a specular long-weekend visiting Tammy and family at their beautiful home on Chappaquiddick Island and each day we went to the beach. During those beach trips, I didn’t realize it, but I kept unconsciously picking up interesting rocks. One calm day at the beach on the waters of Katama Bay, I started stacking rocks creating mini-towers of various shapes and colors. I didn’t have a watch on, but I think I spent the better part of that beach trip just sitting by the water and stacking rocks – call it Zen Bliss.
Before we left that day, I took a fair number of those rocks with me with the thought of bringing them back to my office at Seton Hall. At the time, I thought it would make a good story (I’m always looking for interesting stories) but in reality, it’s had a much bigger impact.
For one, it’s an excellent de-stressor and that small rock tower reminds me of friends, fun, freedom (it was summer) – – – all helping me calm down and refocus. Two, it’s now part of a creativity exercise when students come into my office to chat. Many students need to work though problems or issues and having a conversation while stacking the destressing rocks has been pleasantly effective. I keep one stack on the side desk as an exemplar and I have a small bin of 25 or 30 small rocks to play with. My only rule is that the stack as to be a prime number.
So far, my Chappaquiddick rocks have been a part of my ritual this fall and I’m going to continue to experiment. Is there something… a totem, a photo, anything from this past summer that can help you focus and stay on task? I’m curious, so drop me a note in the comments OK!
Something to think about today…
Associate Professor of Marketing
Stillman School of Business
Seton Hall University