Monkey Mind

“Monkey mind” is a Buddhist term that means “unsettled; restless; capricious; inconstant; uncontrollable”.  Our minds tend to jump from thought to thought, idea to idea, issue to issue, like a monkey moving restlessly from treetop to treetop, branch to branch. Most of these errant thoughts also tend  toward the negative.

While monkeys swing from tree to tree with a definite purpose, we on the other hand swing from one thought to another often without knowing why. We just do it. The monkey is in sync with the world around it, while we are definitely not.

Monkey Minds At Rest

Another way to think of monkey mind is the self-talk that constantly goes on in your head in a very random way. These thoughts are annoying, frustrating, and add stress to your day. They also add stress to your co-workers if they are the recipient of your monkey mind demands which can very often contradict each other. They get in the way of the goals you have set for the day or even the next hour. 

If monkey mind is in your head, the jungle in which it lives and thrives is your life.  Likewise, a company in chaos is the jungle in which your monkey mind thrives. Daily firefighting is great fun for your monkey mind. You get many little things done as you swing from issue to issue in the course of a day, a week, a month. Some people call this multi-tasking – a skill which has been debunked. Yet at the end of the quarter or year you realize that while your monkey mind has had a great time, you haven’t made much progress in achieving the big goals you had set out to achieve. Goals that would have make a positive impact on growing your business.

How to calm that bad monkey.

The main solution offered by many to calm monkey mind is meditation. There are many styles of meditation with the goal being an internal effort to self-regulate the mind.  Meditation, for me in the form of prayer, is a great practice. It can connect you and keep you tuned into the things that are greater than yourself, things that are truly important in life.

Don’t think, as Bishop Juan De Bonilla writes back in the 1700’s, that you can achieve a peaceful state – this interior calm – in a day. He writes that God wants of you that whenever you are troubled, you would recover your calm, your peace, on your own – in your work, in your thoughts and in all your activities without exception. Great stuff – but he doesn’t exactly tell the reader to actually attain that peaceful state.

The problem is once you emerge from your meditative state, you reenter the same chaotic jungle that you just took a mental vacation from. It hasn’t changed a bit since you packed up and left on your mental vacation.  Not a good permanent solution.  You now need to DO something that caused the stress in the first place. You need to work with intention and focus. Here are some tools to do just that.

Here are some great tools to help you calm your monkey mind and gain traction you need to achieve your company’s long term goals.

  1. Immediate – The Pomodero Technique. This technique is used every day. It helps track your time in 25 minute increments through the day. Keeping a Pomodero diary for a few weeks will help you easily see how you spend your time. Take a good hard look and ask yourself if the activities you are doing to support the annual action plan (don’t have an action plan? Keep reading to # 6) and if you are doing things that don’t support the plan – are those things way under your pay grade as a business owner?
  2. Daily – David Allen’s Book “Getting Things Done” contains a great flowchart to help you, well…, get things done. His technique will help you chew through all the “stuff” in your inbox or if you prefer the piles on your desk like a chain saw through saplings. Note under “Is it Actionable?” in the flow chart. The question should really be, “Does this support the mission of the company and my annual plan of action and if so should I be the one doing it?
  3. Weekly – Once a week (Monday first thing) block out chunks of time in the upcoming week to do the things you need to do to ensure the monthly action plan is achieved. These are things that are more important than anything else you do that week.
  4. Monthly – Once a month (first day of the month), review the monthly objectives that you did not achieve and the monthly objectives ahead of you. Review and adjust the upcoming monthly objectives to ensure you can reach your quarterly objectives.
  5. Quarterly – review your annual plan (first day of the quarter) and objectives based on the upcoming quarter’s plans. As you close a quarter, add a new quarter to ensure that you keep a rolling 12 month plan.
  6. Annually – Conduct your company’s annual self-assessment (end of year) and ask Peter Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions. Update your plan based on the self-assessment and is still pushing you toward your goals. Integrate or eliminate the objectives that were set last year but have not yet been reached into the new plan.

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