The most common refrain I hear from leaders I work with goes something like this,
“I can’t seem to get on top of everything at work, its all overwhelming!”
“I’m being pulled in 17 different directions and I’m not doing anything well!”
“I feel like I’m letting everyone down!”
“I’m feeling worn down, worn out!”
When leaders decide to work with me the first and probably most important thing I can provide is a safe place to talk about what’s going on.
They talk and I listen. I ask questions and provide an environment for them to think out loud.
The most valuable part of this process comes from people saying things out loud that are normally just keep in their head. Things sound different when you say them out loud and clients are often surprised at how helpful this is.
I try to slow things down just by the way I conduct the session itself.
I introduce strategies to be used in their daily regime that provide a chance for them to catch their breath and gain/maintain some control over their work.
Like taking 15 minutes each day, maybe first thing in the morning or in the office in the early afternoon or at the end of the day, to shut out all distractions.
Set a timer and just sit quietly, breathe and let your mind go wherever.
If you land on a thought don’t act on it, let your mind wander away to something else. In the practice of mindfulness it’s recommended that you focus on your breathing. I highly recommend learning how to be mindful.
But initially I just want you to take your 15 minutes, commit to it and book the time in your calendar.
Another strategy is to schedule meetings with a little breathing room at the beginning and end.
Arriving at meetings late is bad form, you know it and everyone already there knows it. And if people don’t leave enough time to get to their next meeting they will be distracted until the end of the current meeting. So I do urge people to do themselves and everyone else a favour, leave enough time to get to meetings on time and participate fully until the end. Your effectiveness and the productivity of the meeting will go up as your stress level goes down!
Once people learn to be quiet and more disciplined, the sense of wellbeing gained will help with the feelings of being out of control as well as attentiveness and respect for others.
I’ll talk more about these and other strategies next time. For a handy bit on Mindfulness read this… https://hbr.org/2017/01/spending-10-minutes-a-day-on-mindfulness-subtly-changes-the-way-you-react-to-everything