This is second part of the article Being Present at Work. In this post I’d like to share the 4 keys to help you become more present.
1. Break the Habit of Multitasking
When we multitask, no one person or activity gets our attention, and in small and large ways, our relationships with others can suffer. Here are some practices to commit to:
- Give full attention when someone comes into the office or you answer the phone:
- Stop what you are doing and turn your body towards the person. Smile and breathe.
- Decide whether this is a good time to talk or schedule for later.
- Commit to making human contact with this person 😊
- Focus in when you have an important task to do:
- Set time aside to commit to this task and eliminate all distractions – people interruptions, email, phone etc.
- Relax your body and stretch. Take a couple of deep breaths to center yourself. Focus on the task at hand.
2. Check in With Yourself – feel your feet and breathe
Taking time to pause and check in with yourself during the day is invaluable in being present at work. Some people use a phone app with programed alerts, while others plan short break at certain times or when doing certain tasks. It only takes a moment to pause. (When we remember!)
When we think and worry too much we are in our head. When we notice this its time to ask “Am I present?” “What’s going on with my breath?” “Is there tension in my body?”
– Sit comfortably with your back straight. Feel your feet firmly planted on the ground. Feeling the nerves in the soles of your feet will keep you grounded.
– Take a full diaphragmatic breath. Place your hand on your belly and feel your belly expanding with each inhale and coming back to the spine with each exhale. Under stress or exertion we tend to breath from our chest. Full diaphragmatic breaths calm the vagus nerve and the fight or flight response.
You cannot avoid being in the present if you concentrate on your breath.
3. Change your Perspective – transform your inner critic
Recognize that the inner critic is a distinct voice that is not you. It’s usually a combination of voices from the past. These negative beliefs come from fear and will sabotage us – especially when we step out of our comfort zone or are stressed. Recognize the voice and verbalize it. Look beyond the voice and find a bigger place to come from. For example:
– Think of a time in your life when you overcame fear and accomplished something important to you. Feel that personal pride.
– Think of someone who gives you love and support. Keep that person in mind and recall how they treated you.
– Laugh at yourself. Humor always helps diminish the critic. Lighten up its only the inner critic!
– Focus on your goal and intention – the outcome you want to achieve and the feeling you want to feel when you’ve achieved it!
– Focus on others instead of yourself. Who is there who would appreciate your support right now?
– Do something pleasurable because our inner critic hates pleasure and wants to keep us feeling miserable.
4. Let Thoughts go – experience the experience
Something powerful can happen when we accept our fear and embrace it – it diminishes! As Carl Jung said, “What we resist will persist”, and that is true for the fear in our head. Don’t be afraid to focus on the fear or feeling. By accepting it for what it is, we can free ourselves from the reaction in our minds.
An additional step is to focus on the sensations in the body, rather than the thoughts or judgements. Feel that flutter in the stomach, the dry mouth and the sweaty palms. Breathe through it and observe your body calming.
Experience the experience.