Visibility Tools

Visibility Tools

When it comes to visibility metaphors, the only vehicle I’m qualified to talk about is an automobile. And I failed my test at first taking. But I have helped three young adults earn their licenses since then, so maybe that initial parallel parking kerfuffle has been forgiven.

On a road trip with Marc last month, we both commented about how unfamiliar we felt with our car. We are driving a Honda Hybrid, after the beloved Camry Hybrid was t-boned last summer. Where is the cruise control? Can I adjust the steering wheel? Turns out that on our quick local trips around we haven’t had to get really familiar with our ‘new’ car.

old car steering wheel and dashboard with a blue green hue

We did figure things out pretty quickly, but it reminded me how we take the tools for visibility in our lives for granted.

Visibility conditions in our lives and work develop both internally and externally. Our ability to adapt safely back to productive focus comes from understanding the tools at our disposal and how best to use them.

How do I clear “my windows” when I sit at my desk in a fog? What tools am I most likely to switch on or off or adjust without even thinking about it? What tools am I not using because I don’t know where they are or what they do or that I need them?

Let’s keep it simple. Using the metaphor of driving visibility, what tools are you using? What works really well? When are you distracted?

Headlamps and brightness levels. When I feel a fog set in around my work, my first tool is to stand up and stretch. If I need more brightness, I take five minutes on a house task that will allow me to feel the traction of accomplishment (empty the dishwasher, start a load of laundry). Stepping away and doing a simple non-thinking action clears a lot of fog for me.

Wipers. I’ll use the wipers metaphor for when I am having too many ideas and input levels feel high. How do you clear your overwhelm and recover productive focus? Pencil and paper are the first tools I grab here. I literally make a list and just keep going until nothing else comes out and don’t worry if “feed the cats” gets listed five times. (Five things I get to cross off later – that’s a win!)

Atmosphere controls. When I am uncomfortable (internally or externally – yeah, this is more woo-woo than straightforward), sometimes improving conditions is as simple as changing the air (turn on a fan) or layering on a sweater. But sometimes something more significant needs to be changed – location or project.

I love working at the tables in my local libraries. But maybe I need to step away from what I’m working on and do something altogether different. And maybe sometimes I need to stop working – take a nap, walk the cats, or go re-fuel at the state park.

I’d love to hear what tools you find yourself using this week.