“Living in the moment” sounds so free – so unencumbered. But what place does it have in your career? Are you living in the moment, or do you take on stress and work responsibilities that lead you to lose focus? It’s easy to acknowledge the need to live in the moment, but quite tricky to practice it day to day: some of my worst moments have occurred when I became distracted from the task at hand. Taking time to prioritize work and allowing yourself to truly focus on what you’re doing can make a difference. Here are a few tips for living in the moment, at work.
Understanding the Concept
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It’s easy to talk about living in the moment, but what does the concept truly mean, and how is it significant? There are two aspects to the idea:
- First, ask yourself if you are truly devoting all of your energy to the work in front of you. Are you doing your work? Or is it the work of those around you? Can you delegate it? Or is it work that is even necessary?
- Second, ask how not living in the moment is impacting your stress, lifestyle and – most importantly – your health. Are you burning the candle at both ends as you try to squeeze more than 24 hours into each day?
Despite your best efforts, you must accept that time will always be limited, and usually hard to come by. At the office or at home, the real question becomes how to most effectively use the time you have, and what activities you should pursue.
Are You Living in the Now, or in the Next?
Too often, we get up in the morning and sleepwalk through getting dressed and eating breakfast with our family. Instead of enjoying the 30 minutes or so we have, we rush around and fail to concentrate on our kids or spouse. We’re preoccupied with our upcoming commute, more focused on averting traffic than talking with the ones we love.
Once on the road, we’re still disengaged, having moved on to thinking about our workday and our scheduled meetings. Even after we arrive at the office, many of us spend that first hour thinking about the rest of the day’s events. It’s a challenge to live in the moment if you’re always living in the next block of time.
Always Ask: Is This Task Value-Added?
Effective time management is a key indicator of managerial success, and a manager’s failure to live in the moment can have dire consequences. For instance, when you allocate limited time to a staff meeting, you may feel compelled to push items through the agenda rather than listening to team members and focusing on the subjects at hand. So how do we reverse the trend and live in the moment at work?
At the start of every new task, we must ask ourselves whether the work we’re doing is value-added. Is this work that only you, in your position, can do? If it is, then it’s important enough to schedule the time to get it done, and it deserves your undivided attention. When priorities are accurate and relevant and accountability is clear, you can use time to the best of your ability by focusing on the output of that work. If, on the other hand, you determine that the work you are doing is not value-added, then you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place and you need to either eliminate it as work or, if it is important, delegate it to a subordinate.
Many of us talk about living in the moment, but it’s a concept that few of us take to heart. At work, attempt as often as possible to avoid distraction: Look at the block of work in front of you, and ask yourself whether it adds value. If it does, give yourself permission to focus on it completely, and give it the time it deserves. Don’t be surprised when the quality of your output improves, as does your peace of mind.