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tool: the observer

By 06 September 2022January 23rd, 2023No Comments

I first shared this tool in a short course about how to win at working from home.

Everything starts with awareness. So long as we are functioning on autopilot, we are not paying attention to what we are doing and are operating mindlessly. When we are in this way of being, we don’t really have much agency over ourselves.

Now to be clear, we benefit hugely from doing certain things automatically. For example, when I am showering, I don’t think about every move I need to make. I pick up the shampoo and then the soap and just repeat familiar sequences of gestures. This is incredibly valuable to me because the shower is a great time for me to think and plan my day ahead.

Other situations however are less suited to mindless habitual patterns, like for example sitting at our desk and working at the computer for hours on end without getting up and stretching our legs, or regularly snapping at our partner/child/pet/friend to leave us alone because we are so very busy.

These are the patterns we want to start watching, noticing and paying attention to. These are the patterns that don’t serve us so well and that will have negative consequences for us in the long run (if they don’t already).

So the most important thing to do if we want to feel more in control of our lives and not let our autopilot consume all of our being is to take a step back and pay attention to our current situation, patterns, habits. Like with any other change, we need to start by gathering data around what the current present is like, and then we can determine what we would like instead. And that is when we can start to make things happen.


  • What are your current patterns around the area that you would like to shift?
  • What is going well and what is out of kilter?
  • What impact do your current habits and patterns have on you and on others around you?

This will give you a good survey of your current situation and be the starting point for deciding what needs to be adjusted. And then, you can make a start by shifting one little thing at a time!