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Stop Doing to Get Stuff Done

ted Learning Theatre of Learning drama based training
As some of you might know, I recently took a 17-month-pandemic-delayed trip for a yoga break in Morocco. Wall to wall sunshine, amazing fresh vegan food and 3 yoga classes a day worked their magic pretty quickly. My second night there I slept for a full 12 hours (unheard of for me since about 2005) and was feeling rested and relaxed. It took my tense shoulder muscles a little longer, but after a few days of yoga, followed by marinating and pummelling in the local hammam, they’d finally receded from around my ears and loosened up.

In Morocco, time is subjective. There’s schedules, sure, and things get done, eventually, but the cultural approach to when is framed by the often heard ‘Inshallah’. Translating to ‘God willing’, it’s the caveat for every eventuality…. ‘Will the weather be hot today?’ – ‘Hopefully, it will be sunny, inshallah’; ‘What time will the bus come?’– ‘At 2.30, inshallah’; ‘Are your friends coming over for dinner tomorrow?’ – ‘Yes at 8 o’clock, inshallah.’  Inshallah takes the pressure off, things operate on Moroccan time, a slower pace, less stress, no worry.

Once I slowed down, clarity on a few thorny issues that had been bothering me arrived, unannounced. How to best approach a tricky conversation I need to have with my parents. What I want to do about a friendship that’s going through a sticky patch. When to take the plunge and enrol on a professional course I want to study. Prior to the break, I’d spent a significant amount of time mulling over the options in each scenario, following threads of ‘what if’ and procrastinating, telling myself it wasn’t the right time to reach a decision. But now, with both literal and metaphorical space around me, my brain figured things out with very little conscious effort. It struck me that the reason for this wasn’t just about a change of scenery and a posh cocktail, but more about the amount of time I was able to spend just being.  One morning, I walked along the corniche, and spent two hours sitting on a bench, facing the sea, watching the world go by. Two hours! When was the last time at home I gave myself two hours to just sit and be?

It’s a funny contradiction that I both love Morocco and it’s languid lifestyle, yet have a natural affinity for order and routine, with a reputation both at work and in my personal life for being Little Miss Organised. I am a lover of lists, a fan of following up, a pro at prioritising, all of which are tools and techniques I’ve learned to help me make sense of an increasingly busy life. I realised several years ago though that I needed to counter the hectic pace with a slower vibe, so I took up yoga and meditation in a bid to shut my head up when I needed some silence. What this Moroccan trip made me realise however, was that I’d got to the point where even the yoga and the meditation had become things to be scheduled – stuff to fit in, tick off. I had stopped listening to what I needed, what works well for me, how I need to operate, and had become consumed with keeping going. With the sum total of my holiday to-do’s equalling ‘walk up the stairs for yoga’ and ‘walk down the stairs for food’, I started thinking more about what being productive really means to me and how, for all my hard-working habits, I had maybe been creating more obstacles than solutions.

Since returning from holiday, in that slightly freaky ‘is the universe trying to tell me something or is Alexa actually recording my thoughts now?’ way, I have noticed more than a few signposts on this same theme…… my social media feed promotes a TEDX talk about finding happiness as a human being not a human doing; a friend sends me a link to an introduction to mindfulness course they think I might be interested in; my train back from London is cancelled so I am forced to treat myself to half an hour of people watching over a glass of wine at Victoria station – it’s not a big-brother conspiracy, it’s just that I’m becoming more tuned into this need for literal and metaphorical space to operate at my best.

I am a lover of lists, a fan of following up, a pro at prioritising, all of which are tools and techniques I’ve learned to help me make sense of an increasingly busy life

Roxy Hooton
Group People & Quality Director

In the departure lounge in Marrakech, I made a new list (old habits die hard!) : “Lessons from Morocco”. It’s a short one, with just 3 items on it: 1) More yoga 2) More outside 3) More being. I’m consciously trying to listen to these lessons and act on them whenever I can – it’s both a case of beginning some new routines and beginning to be more aware of when opportunities present themselves, rather than just rushing blindly into the next thing. My colleague, Aimee Shortman, often cites the “slow down to go faster” maxim, and it’s one I’m trying to embrace. I’ve stopped kidding myself that I’ll miss something important if I go to bed at 10.30pm (by which time I can hardly keep my eyes open) and stopped feeling weird about the fact I actually like getting up at 5.30am to have some time to myself and start work early. I take a proper lunchbreak and get outside for some fresh air, even when it’s raining. If I need to take some time out to think, stretch and breathe, then I do, without feeling guilty, and I notice that this makes me more productive in the long run.

Getting Stuff Done

There’s 86,400 seconds in a day – how you spend them is up to you, but spending some of them attending this full day workshop would be a great idea if you want to boost your productivity and learn to make the most of your time, then check out this course.

I’m not suggesting that everyone needs the same lessons, or would gain anything other than a sore bum from 2 hours on a bench gazing at the sea. But maybe what we would all benefit from is a little more tuning in, some filtering out of the white noise to help us understand what’s blocking our path and what we can do to overcome some of these challenges. Our ‘Getting Stuff Done’ course helps people do just that, by supporting us to understand how we sometimes sabotage our own best efforts and looking honestly at what strategies do & don’t work for us at an individual level. It’s available as in-person face to face training, online through our virtual classroom or if you’re short of time (!) there’s also condensed digital version. Talk to ted or check out our website for more information, and learn how to create more space in your day for being, inshallah.

Roxy-Hooton-Director-ted Learning
Roxy Hooton

Roxy is the Group People Director for Squaricle Group & the Learning Director at ted Learning. She is a fundamental part of our team ensuring that our people are looked after and that our delivery is tailored to the clients needs and is ‘on-brand’.

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