I’ve made a deliberate effort of late around the concept of mindfulness and of trying to be more present.
In other words, I’m trying not to engage as egregiously in zoning out and checking email and catching up on Twitter when I’m supposed to be paying attention. Meetings are, of course, a special kind of danger zones for these things. So are completely overprogrammed days, when my entire schedule consists of running from Point A to Point Q to Point L, with no breathing space available and…when was I supposed to have lunch? Days like those are the days that stress me out. It’s not that I can’t handle the day itself. It’s that when I’m doing all of the to and fro, I lose the ability to manage my energy. And when I lose that ability to recharge, even if it’s only for 30 minutes a couple of times, I know I’m not at my most present. I also know that I get grumpy.
When I “check out,” when I start that multitasking, there’s clear evidence that I’m probably making things worse rather than better (ladies, the link applies particularly to you). And while I wasn’t successful in keeping it controlled the entire day, late in the day I was cognizant enough to start using the, “Right now, it’s like this” framework to remind myself that days like these are truly exceptional.
Today’s tactical error that I know has been helping of late? I did NOT sit for 10 minutes this morning prior to getting the day going (though, to my credit, I didn’t start with email either). I’ve learned that 10 minutes of sitting and just breathing after the alarm goes off helps me to feel like I’m setting the tone of my day rather than having it set for me. Even with that knowledge, after a late evening and with an early morning I skipped it. Not a great choice because I’m learning that it’s a total set-up for distraction for almost the entire day- or at least the parts when I can be distracted and not seem completely inappropriate. The day took control of me.
So tomorrow, I’ll sit again for 10 minutes when the alarm goes off (with a purring cat in my lap if I’m really fortunate). That’s the part of it all that I can control, and it lets me set the tone to make the rest of the day go more smoothly afterwards. It’s not like the day was a wholesale disaster; if anything, it all ended up fine. It’s just that process, being present and engaged through all of it, could have been less bumpy. I’m grateful that I get the chance to reflect and do better.
And if you’re looking for ideas to help you be more mindful at work, I am particularly fond of this list.
Sitting still? Apparently not a waste of time at all.
(And for those who may have caught the slightly obscure musical reference, you’re welcome. REM from 1984 is as good now as it was then.)