Why do we do things the way that we do them?
When it comes to business this is an important question to ask. Do we operate on auto-pilot day-to-day? Do we respond to client emails in the similar fashion? Do we ever think outside the box? There is an aspect of work that's monotonous. We find ourselves in situations that are very familiar, moving sluggishly through the day's to-dos.
This is especially true of jobs that require routine. It makes many of us frustrated, bitter, and bored, and eventually less productive than we should be. But watching the clock is no way to go through your day.
Enter vuja de. It's the reverse of deja vu, thought up by the late comedian George Carlin who told his audience it is “the strange feeling that, somehow, none of this has ever happened before,” even though it has in fact, happened many times over.
It's a feeling where all of the sudden you can look at a Groundhog day, month, year, and see it with fresh eyes. It's how the comedian went through most of his life able to come up with fresh material. And it's something that can be wildly helpful when you're stuck in a professional rut.
Here are four tips for cultivating VUJA DE.
THINK I'LL GO FOR A WALK OUTSIDE. NOW.
(go right now.)
New ideas and insights often come from looking at a similar situation in a different light. That one project you've been working on that isn't quite working, take a walk. You may be looking at the exact same buildings, people, cars, coffee shops surrounding your office, but brain imaging has shown that after just 20 minutes of walking your brain LIGHTS UP, releasing a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). What BDNF has the ability to do is repair the memory neurons in your brain-- effectively acting as a reset switch. So when you head back into the office or that drab cubicle, you can look at the exact same problem with a new eye.
PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS IN THE BACKGROUND
What are you focussing on? Maybe you look at a computer screen all day. Or perhaps there's a photo on your desk that's your go-to for zoning out. (JK we know you scroll Insta at work.) But what are you really looking at? We don't only continuously scroll our tech, we've started applying that practice to work. It's time to get your thumb off the screen and your finger on the pulse.
If you heighten your senses to pay attention to "background" noise (for those who do yoga you've probably experienced this sensation during Shavasana) you will bring new ideas to the forefront. It seems silly, but if you're having a hard time doing this, squint.
WHAT IS THE INTENTION BEHIND WHAT YOU'RE DOING?
This is something that Beyond the Mag founder Sophia Macks brought up at Create & Cultivate Dallas. There is a lot of repetition in the blogging world: cupcakes, macaroon, ice cream cones against brick walls.. it gets old. But when you set an intention behind what you're doing you can make something very similar feel and look brand new. But you have to work on cultivating the meaning behind the idea. Are you posting a shot of cupcakes because that's what's hot? Are you jumping on the Damn Daniel bang wagon? Give it meaning and you will give it staying power.
SHIFT SOMETHING SMALL BUT SIGNIFICANT
Setting schedules and being organized can prove immeasurably useful when you're a busy person. But if you have every moment of your life and work penciled in, something autopilot kicks in and you fall asleep at the wheel. However, here's the good news: you can erase pencil. If you have a team meeting every Monday at 10AM and ideas are starting to feel stale or your team isn't bringing the best to table, change the time of the meeting. The setting is still the same, the people are still the same, but this tiny shift can actually cause a shift in thinking. A different time of day will produce different ideas. If you always have your meetings in a conference room, try meeting in the kitchen, or on the rooftop garden. A very simple switch can prove significant.
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, EAVESDROP
Info is there. Ideas are too. It's all around you, often coming out of the mouth of a stranger. And though we've been told it's rude to listen in on others' conversations, you're not doing it for gossip's sake-- you're doing it because a simple word or turn of phrase can legit change how you interact with your world and your work.
Arianna Schioldager is Create & Cultivate's editorial director. You can find her on IG @ariannawrotethis and more about her at www.ariannawrotethis.com