3 Words to Make Better Use of Your Time: Be. Here. Now.
Lydia (not her real name) is a 42-year old working Mom who felt torn. She wanted to give her kids the attention they deserve and also needed to do a good job at work.
Her goal? To enjoy time at work, home, and in between.
She realized her children would be teenagers soon, and she wanted to make the most of the time till they leave the nest.
We talked about what tends to get in the way of her doing that. And Lydia realized she was distracted much of the time.
When she was at work, she wondered about her kids.
At night, she found herself bringing work home.
Not only did it cause her to rush through dinner, but she also was preoccupied thinking about the work she had to do once the children were in bed.
We realized managing distractions was the key to help Lydia not only be more productive at home and work, but also to enjoy them more.
How do we manage distractions? Well, it's about focusing on what's happening right now, in the moment. In coach-speak, we call it being "fully present." But I prefer the way United Health Care presents the concept to its employees. They've adopted a slogan, Be Here Now.
You're probably thinking, That sounds good, but how in the world do I make myself do it?
Take some cues from Lydia. Here's what she did...
Step One: Make a Commitment to Be Here Now
Lydia integrated the phrase Be Here Now into her life. She posted it in the spaces where she spent the most time -- her kitchen, family room, bedroom, office, and car. Made it her screen saver on all her devices. Talked with her friends, family, and coworkers about her desire to be in the moment.
The result? Being focused on the moment became second nature to her, which brought her a lot of peace.
Step Two: Notice When Your Mind Drifts & Bring it Back to Now
Our minds naturally drift quite often. And that's okay!
Simply make it a point to notice when that happens.
When it does, quiet the thought and focus back on the moment at hand.
But what if you're afraid you won't remember that thought later?
I find it helpful to have a notepad where I write "out" thoughts (thoughts that have nothing to do with what's going on "in" the moment.) Once I quickly jot down the thought, I find it easier to Be Here Now.
Step Three: Notice Interruptions & Minimize Them
Not surprisingly, it's easier to be in the moment when we're not distracted.
Start paying attention to when your thoughts and tasks are interrupted -- by people, technology, or otherwise. And get curious about how you might minimize them. For example...
How many reminders do you receive in a typical day?
Could you delete some? (You probably don't need them all.)
What about changing their form? If you find audible notifications particularly distracting, schedule those only for the most critical reminders.
Who interrupts you? (stops by, hangs out, calls you, texts you) And when?
If you find that lots of people stop by your office first thing in the morning -- which is when you do your best thinking -- implement a "do not disturb" policy for the first hour or so. Or arrive at the office earlier.
Do you find your kids bombard you with calls or texts once they get home from school?
Set expectations that you want a call or text to confirm they're safely at home but limit them beyond that. (Maybe they only call you if the house is on fire!)
You might be curious what happened to Lydia. Well...
Her life is perfect in each and every way!
Ok, not really. But she is feeling much better about her personal and work lives these days.
First and foremost, Lydia enjoys her life more. Focusing on the moment has helped her slow down and pay attention to the wonders around her -- whether it's one of her children smiling, a beautiful sunrise, or a great idea she gets at work.
Second, Lydia says she's sharper and more productive. By focusing on one thing at a time, she's clearer-headed and gets things done not only faster, but also more accurately.
Third, her relationships are stronger. We all want to feel heard and understood. And, when we sense the person we're with is distracted, that doesn't happen.
Lydia has seen her children's confidence grow and credits much it to her being in the moment -- actively listening to them and responding to them.
She's also noticed a difference with her colleagues. She's taken the time to slow down and get to know not only their needs at work, but also who they are as people. Lydia is part of a stronger team and that makes coming to work more rewarding and enjoyable.
So, are you ready to Be Here Now?