If you’re like me then you have gotten caught for not paying attention to your significant other while he/she is talking. Once caught you might attempt to make nodding your head and repeating the last three things said an indicator that they have got it all wrong and you have been listing intently the entire time. Yes, our broken mailbox, I’m right there with you. Sadly, this tactic usually falls flat.
Being the wonderful man that he is, my boyfriend always comes around. Though while entirely true, my excuse that I’ve just got so much going on with work is so tired it’s practically in a coma.
Why can’t we take our minds off of our work? For an entrepreneur the thoughtful blame can be placed on our passions. We’re passionate about what we’re trying to do. After all, trying to turn your own efforts into something useful and profitable is anything but a 9-5 job where you can just clock out. That is why we pursued these passions in the first place isn’t it, because we were tired of clocking in and out? Was it not those passions that made you fall in love with me in the first place?! ..Ok I’m getting off track here…
The point is, while we can embrace the freedom of our days and decisions, letting our attention spans wander in the wild packs some serious drawbacks. I’m not saying you need to leash your thoughts like those parents at Disney World, but being able to control your focus and live in the moment is the goal here.
I have a close friend who by profession is a golfer, and like a lot of athletes he understands that coaching the mind is just as important as conditioning your muscles. Why? Because your performance is a reflection of where your head is at; if your focus is cloudy, spotty and scrambled you can bet your output will be in direct correlation.
As it goes, not being present can bring about strife in your personal life and cause your professional performance to suffer as well. Letting your thoughts constantly dictate your focus can bring about bouts of anxiety, stress, and may even violate your much needed sleep.
Create an imaginary pie chart of your life. Work very well may take up 65- 80%, but in no case is it 100%. Even if there are just microscopic pieces left of your pie that time still matters. Make the decision to let those slivers have their moments, and some whipped cream too.
How? First, you better recognize, fool
Recognize that thinking doesn’t replace doing. You may resist being present because you feel like you need to work on your business whenever possible, however over thinking is not the same as working. You didn’t just ponder long enough about starting a business and -poof- it happened. It took action – and while thinking was a process that led you to those actions, over thinking can cause hesitations, not to mention the other areas of your life that it monopolizes.
Factor into work a portion of time for brainstorming and planning. This can help tame your habit of over thinking and affords you the opportunity to be present.
Then, engage in some buffers
Use a journal or discussion forum as your buffer. In either of these mediums you can vent about the things plaguing your mind, or jot down tomorrow’s plan of attack. Sometimes the only way to stop thinking about something is to take a minute to acknowledge it.
Next, follow up with something refreshing
Contrary to commercialized belief, you don’t need to check into a rejuvenation center to grasp mediation. In its simplest form it requires you to focus on only one thing: your breath. Just close your eyes and think about the inhales and exhales you are experiencing.
The difficulty of meditation is not in what you have to do, but what you should not do, which is let your mind wander. When this starts to happen don’t stress that you’re not doing it right, a wandering mind is completely natural. Instead stay calm. Meditation success is not about being perfect, but committing to always bring your focus back to your breath when you stray. Avoid falling asleep by meditating while sitting up and set your alarm for 1 minute, 5 minutes or 10 minutes – no peaking until you hear your alarm ring. Like meditation, yoga or stretching can have the same calming effects as well. All of these activities allow you to direct your focus inward and ground you in the present.
Now that you’ve detached and decompressed you are ready to start living in the present which means that emails, texts and Facebook are your enemies. In the evenings or on the weekends, afford yourself some real off time by unplugging (even if it’s only for an hour). Automatic “out off the office” responses can help reduce your unplugging anxiety. For any remaining hesitations remind yourself that you’re not going on a month long hiatus, you’ll transition back to work mode within a matter of hours. You deserve this time now.
Should you feel yourself slipping…
Even after you’ve put all of these exercises into practice, triggers are lurking everywhere. A casual mention of something in a conversation can remind you of a major problem that you are dealing with at work, and before you know it your mind is bouncing off the walls. When this happens take a quick moment to check in with your five senses. What do you smell, what do you see, what do you hear? Checking in with sensory details will immediately pull you back into the present.
In a multitasking world we pride ourselves on our juggling abilities, but there is also a virtue to living in the moment. Our relationships, our health – all are priorities other than work that we need to start adding into the rotation; and we can, with clean and simple focus.
How do you remain present?
Kelly Gregorio writes about topics that affect entrepreneurs while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a small businesses loan provider. You can read her daily blog at http://www.advantagecapitalfunds.com/blog/.
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Category: Startup Advice