The Importance of Being (Mentally) Present
Today’s post is by Nicole Martin.
Alarm goes off. You shower and get ready, then drive/bus/train into work. You answer e-mails, voice mails, and phone calls. There are meetings and coffee… lots of coffee. Finally the day is over and you fight traffic back home. If asked how your day was, the answer is usually very simple: “fine.” But if asked what you did at work, you would struggle come discuss the details. Or, you wouldn’t be able to turn those details into an energetic conversation that last for more than a couple minutes.
Sound familiar? If most of your workdays feel like this, then you are probably not “being present” during your workday. Being present means that you are focusing on what is happening at that given moment. You are not thinking about all the laundry you have to do when you get home, or how badly this morning’s meeting went… you are living in the now.
Your first thought might be that this is for new-age, granola eating tree huggers. Au contraire! The practice of being present can increase efficiency, strengthen relationships, and decrease stress. Focusing on only one task at a time will allow you to work with a clear mind and help you make decisions faster. If you are in a meeting with other people, being present helps you to take in all the details of the discussion. If you are not zoning out (as we all tend to do during long meetings), your brain will quickly process the information and drive creativity. It will also help you build a better relationship with those in the room… others who are living in the moment will easily pick up on whether your heart is in the conversation or not. Finally, if you are cranking out great work and are so efficient that you can get home on time, your stress will certainly go way down!
Being present can come easily if you practice. You might want to start with something you know you will enjoy, like a good meal or conversation with a close friend. Practice thinking about just what is happening right then. Then you can start being present at work… again, it may take baby steps but it will become more natural with time. And during those high stress moments at work, take a walk if you can and focus on your surroundings instead of what is stressing you out.
Still not convinced? Here is scientific evidence (read at your own risk – it’s very technical!): http://www.rickhanson.net/wp-content/files/papers/MindfulnessWell-Being.pdf And be sure to check out the other side of things on Employed Panache with this article on being physically present.
How do you practice being present?