May 25, 2022

How You Can Be Present When You Are Not Present

How to be presentIs anyone else starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by 2022, or is it just me?

As the world reopens it feels to me like there’s a firehose pointed at my face. And flowing from that hose is a torrent of information. Work and world news, images, videos. I’m in a constant state of alert, trying to take it all in, filtering the facts from the fiction, thousands of times a day. It’s as if it was water and I am battling with it, trying to catch my breath but the information keeps on coming. There is no respite, no time out, no time for being still and perhaps no time to allow the mind to wander and let creative ideas come to fruition.

Or is there?

I am invited on-site for client meetings and events, one presentation commenced with a message on the screen – Be Present. At the time I didn’t grasp the impact that would have on me, but it’s one that has grown.

There are several ways you can Be Present without being present. Given that working from home is a hot topic, here are a few thoughts that have helped me over the last 13 years. I hope they may help you too.

Lightbulb moment! Being Present doesn’t mean you have to be in the room. You can be there virtually, or you can be invited to contribute ahead of a meeting as part of a team.

Being Present doesn’t mean words have to be physically said. In fact, being present and not speaking is just as powerful. Listening to others and understanding your role in the situation is being present. We all remember that one teacher walking down the corridor who made us stand to attention without saying one word.

Understanding the advantages and the restrictions of technology in order to Be Present is fundamental. Technology has so many positives, it helps us in our everyday lives and the growth in video calls for work has been immense. It has brought people together more so than ever before. But let’s also consider the limitations. Technology companies make money when you are using their platforms, and in their ideal world would keep you there 24/7 – sleep is overrated, right?! Let’s use the technology, but also remember when it’s time to step away. This leads on to the ping… ping… ping.

Being Present to me includes turning off those notifications (noise and vibrations). When I am on a call, or in a meeting, I am there in the room. Now whilst that might be virtual attendance, I am away from distractions. My camera is on, my notifications are off, and my coffee or water is on my desk. I wouldn’t get up and walk out of a meeting to get a coffee, so I don’t when online.

Some tips to help you Be Present.

  • Break your day up into manageable segments. Find a routine that works for you. Before you sit down to write or have a meeting, take five. Stand up, walk around, and get some fresh air if you can. It will help de-clutter your mind and awaken your senses.
  • As much as we would like to believe we are great at multitasking, the brain can only truly focus on one thing at a time. During my day I allocate focus time and I have a countdown on my desktop. This is my spotlight focus time. For me, I work in 25 mins segments when writing and 30-45 mins segment when on client-specific tasks.
  • Let your mind wander. Aim to get your 10,000 steps a day in at lunchtime or on a morning and afternoon walk. Listen to your favourite podcast, nature, or speak to a friend or colleague about a project you are working on.
  • No more notifications. This is a big one for me. I have my timer and my reminder about upcoming meetings. No email notifications, social media or messages.
  • Manage expectations. Not everything requires an immediate response. I’ll say that again, not every email, message or notification requires an immediate response or action.

It’s time to take steps to slow down and attempt to turn off your firehose. I hope these steps help you to manage the information you receive, and please let me know if you have others I can try (hello@boxpr.co.uk).

I am on a journey of discovery to strengthen my spotlight attention and to be more present. Please, join me.

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