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In a demo of PracticalESG member resources Associate Editor Zach Barlow gave recently, a prospective member asked about the algorithm we employ for searching and sifting through all the information we post. Zach explained that we don’t use any algorithm or artificial intelligence – all our content is manually and personally reviewed by at least one (and typically two) of our editorial team made up of technical ESG and business experience, DEI expertise and lawyers. This takes a lot of time, but it is how we make sure content meets our standards and criteria for usability/practicality.

Indeed, there is a deluge of information about ESG as I have written before. And it isn’t just the amount of information that is overwhelming – implementation of DEI and ESG programs is also stressful, complicated and can feel overpowering at times. I found this article on Fast Company that offers ideas on how to “stay productive and focus on what you can do, instead of getting consumed thinking about situations largely outside of your control.” Normally, I find articles like this to be fluff but this one surprised me. A few of these suggestions are things I came around to on my own as I personally continually work to be efficient and maintain focus. I am not the world’s most organized person (just ask Liz and Zach), so simple and effective methods of making incremental improvements there make big differences for me.

Some of the helpful suggestions include:

When you’re constantly feeling distracted, the root cause is often anxiety. To figure out what you’re actually concerned about, begin to write out a brain dump of everything on your mind…

Once you’ve got everything written out, circle or highlight where you can take action.

While there are plenty of situations where we can do something to change the outcome, there are some instances where we don’t have a lot of control. We just need to do our best in the moment and then respond to what happens as it occurs… I can’t control these situations, but they do concern me, so I need to regularly release what’s on my mind so that I don’t wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. with my thoughts racing. This is where practices like meditationprayer, and journaling play such a critical role for all of us in getting calm, peaceful, centered, and able to focus in uncertain times.  

For me – and all of us in ESG – this might be the most relevant:

… many times we’re tempted to turn to activities that do the opposite [of calming] – like scrolling endlessly on our phones. Instead of feeling what we’re feeling, taking action where we can, and releasing what we can’t control, we go in search of information to give us hope or numb us out. Unfortunately, social media typically only makes us more anxious and distracted… If you struggle in this area and need a little extra help to stay off your phone or distracting websites, you may want to enlist the help of a blocker (like to disrupt the vicious distraction cycle.

Although that part is cast in terms of social media, I get caught up in the endless information on professional topics (I am not a big social media user). I’ve made more efforts in recent months to physically separate myself from my phone and just have quiet/calm time. That is rather restorative for me.

The final suggestion in the article is one that doesn’t totally resonate with me, but others may find helpful:

The important thing is you have a plan, so that when you jump into the day, your mind knows where to focus and what you should be doing. 

The old military adage that no plan survives first contact with the enemy is apropos in my opinion. I have far more days where my initial plans are disrupted than I do being able to execute those plans. Being flexible can add to your stress and cause you to reprioritize your days, but especially in ESG – that is an important trait.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile