In my work with leaders, I share that one of the biggest things you can do to be more effective, is to be more present, putting your full attention on what it is that you are working on right now. That may be a project, or a person that you are listening to. The following is my personal reflection on working on being in the moment.
There have been a few times in my life when I have been truly in the moment. This in the moment business is called many different things like: being in the zone, extreme focus, and presence. For me these “moments” stand out for me, as they are game changers in a good way. I remember the first time I became aware of this level of focus. I was in high school playing a basketball game somewhere in a small gym in Iowa. The gym was cramped, loud and there was lots of action. I recall this experience like this:
It was quiet, the distractions were gone. I intuitively knew where the ball was going to be. My brain was hyper-focused yet quiet and my body seemed to know exactly what to do next, as I moved with a fluid arc of action. Time felt as if it had stopped. I was in the zone.
I remember it so distinctly because it was one of the few times in my basketball career when I was able to achieve this state of “being in the zone.” It was really a cool experience.
It is strange that my memory of that experience so long ago is so clear. It was very impactful for me. I have been working to get back in the flow like that now for many years. I am an office jockey and have spent many years working in big corporation “cube farms.” As a result, I can get easily attached to sitting and relying on my left brain, it is my habit.
If I don’t get intentional about being in the present and allowing myself some creative unstructured brain time, I am unable access that extreme ability for focus as easily or as well. When I do, I am more productive and feel more satisfied with my day’s work.
What helps me get present?
- Movement, even if just getting out of my chair and walking around or dancing around my office or walking around the block.
- Deep breathing for a few minutes.
- Concentrated time to be still or meditate. I don’t always have to spend 30 minutes just sitting to quiet my busy mind. Most days I do have five minutes and I start there and expand when I can. When I take some time to breathe deep and quiet my mind, my focus is inevitably easier to find or regain again.
- Managing techno distractions like phones, anything online or E-mail. The demon e-mail, I can’t live with it and can’t live without it. The minute I open my E-mail, I lose focus. I get distracted by any number of things that are not aligned with my top and/or NONE of my priorities. Most days I don’t open e-mail until I have set and/or spent some time on the top priority.
- Noticing what distractions grab me most often. I know I can easily waste 30 or more minutes on social media. Now that I have that awareness, I can choose not to open it, or put an alarm on for 10 minutes and use it as a reward after completing a task. I find it easier not to open it!
We all have the same amount of time available to us in a given day. My experience is that when I get more intentional about my day overall, and get present with my focus I feel like I have more time.