Hone your skills at “being present” at the office to prevent burnout…
We all read and hear about ways to avoid burnout. It usually involves tips on how to recharge, like taking “time off” and getting away from the office. However, there is something you can actually do IN the office and that’s be more present.
You may have heard about the “being present” movement. Whether or not you’ve considered the concept in a spiritual sense, there are certainly lessons that we can learn about putting the practice of presence into our every day practical life.
Being present has a double meaning. There is being present as in physically in attendance. And there is also being present as in now, in this moment in time. In short, be here now.
Not being present is easy. There is work to do, phone calls to make, emails to send, bills to pay, errands to run, and kids to pick up at school. There is so much going on, both past and future, that it’s no wonder that it’s hard to focus on the moment. Not being present is easy. Being present can be very elusive.
We live in a world of distraction and busy thoughts. We’ve grown to become multi-taskers. The challenge is that with so much going on, we lose the ability to really focus on one thing. We lose our presence here and now in the moment.
We need to learn to take the time to notice, appreciate and cherish the good things that we’re experiencing at work. There may be sources of delight, joy, or comfort that we just aren’t taking the time to notice. Slow down and take the time to look for these positives. Savor them. Carve away those moments to “recharge” and break away from the stress and worries of work.
Block out the noise.
When you’re experiencing busy thoughts, you might imagine your fingers closing to shut the buzz out to help signify that you’re blocking them out. You might even want to physically make that gesture as a marking point that you’re changing your level of focus. I just made the gesture as I was writing this and I found it to be a powerful physical marker.
Take a breath. Take a moment.
When you take a moment to focus on your breathing and you consider the correspondence between what’s happening in that instant, you’ll start to understand that you are doing absolutely nothing. The feeling of appreciating a moment of nothing can be very soothing and help you to regain your focus.
Be a witness.
Notice exactly what is happening. Observe it. Name it. Stand aside from it.
Let the rest go.
Whatever is not there in that moment, let it go.
Rather than worry about what needs to get done for a client, or at home, or whatever is next your to-do list, be fully present and focus on what you are doing right in that moment. Take stock of what is happening around you. Give it your attention. Be in that moment.
For example, when working on a difficult problem, it’s very common for people to feel stressed, frazzled, and overwhelmed. When those feelings escalate, your mind races to other worries and begins to pile them on top of each other. Push out that noise and recognize what is actually going on. If you’re learning something, consider that to be exercising your “new learning muscle.” Just because it’s new and challenging does not mean that is has to be negative. There may be stress because it takes exertion to learn something new, but that can be a positive stress. Stop and recognize the moments where you can learn something new, whether it is a new skill or you’re learning something new about yourself.
While speaking with a co-worker, focus on the conversation. Stop your mind from worrying about other things, like the schedule for the rest of the day, that phone call you need to make, or the dry cleaning you need to pick up. Focus on the person you’re speaking with and value the relationship. Realize that relationships and people are precious. Even if it’s only a brief conversation, give it your attention. Find value in the exchange, whether it’s something business-related or the ups and downs of parenting; invest in the moment with a proper commitment of focus before moving on. When you take the time to pay attention to people and you invest in listening and exchanging, good things start to grow.
When you see a familiar face in an elevator or at a meeting, realize that this is an opportunity connect with someone. If your paths have crossed before, they are likely to again. Take the time to invest in that moment that you’re sharing with them. It’s an opportunity, and it does not need to take a long time to seize that opportunity.
What about when you’re listening to a presentation? Does your mind wonder to other things? What might happen if you really made the effort to tune in? You may be surprised by the insights that your busy thoughts might otherwise have caused you to miss.
Consider your physical surroundings. Where do you work? Is there a view from your office building, not necessarily right at your desk but somewhere that you pass regularly? Do you ever stop to appreciate that view?
What other opportunities have you been missing to connect with people? Take the time to notice a book that someone in reading in the cafeteria? Or take a moment to notice and also compliment someone if they’re wearing something nice. Especially take a moment to commend someone if you’ve heard that they’ve recently made an achievement. It only takes a moment to focus your energy and to be present in that personal connection and the results can be invaluable.
Think of being present as meditation without meditating. Find the stillness. Choose your point of focus. Let go of the all the extras. Just as all the moments of stress will become the formula for burn out, all the accumulated moments of “presence” will contribute to a more focused, relaxed, happier you.