Sometimes distractions find us. But most times, we find them or at least we open our door to them. Now that so many executives and business owners are working from home or in semi-seclusion, it's a lot harder to deny our distractions. It's also a lot easier to identify those activities that keep us away from our most important priorities.
While you're heeding all that great advice about staying connected with your community, think about getting connected with yourself. Aligning your mission with that of your team and your organization. Revisiting your personal brand and making some plans to enhance it. Considering the next, most meaningful steps for your business and personal life.
This is a great time to identify the priorities that will have the biggest positive impact on you as well as those that will bring value to your team, and your organization once things get back to "normal."
The thing is, those priorities can start having an impact now if you focus on them rather than on another shiny object, or just keeping busy to keep busy. But focus and reflection don't come easy. Our minds have a lot of inertia built up from before this crisis hit. We're used to running, wheeling, dealing, making things happen and the downshift is tough on our gears.
Here are some practices that will help you to shift into solitude and help you cash in on the quiet, just when you're tempted to chase after the next distraction.
Before you jump into anything, breathe. Think about what it is that you're about to do whether it's dialing your phone, pulling up Facebook (or LinkedIn), jumping on YouTube or streaming the latest "updates" and speculations on the virus. Pause, breathe, and make sure you're fully aware of what you're about to do and why you're about to do it. This is not a time for knee jerk reactions. This is a time for meaningful response.
2. Do something in slow motion.
Weird, right? I get that but try it, you might like it. Walk to your mailbox in slow motion, feel every part of every step. Do not look around at the sights but attend to your senses. Keep your focus on the ground, a few feet in front of your step. Feel how your arms move and sync-up with your step. Feel the breeze against your face. Or straighten your at-home desk top clutter, slowly feeling each item and thinking intentionally about where the object or paper came from, what it took to make it, and the best very best way to deal with it whether that means addressing it, filing it, sticking it in a drawer for another day, or tossing it.
3. Eat a peach.
Or a raisin, or a salad, or a sandwich or even a protein bar. But this time, eat slowly and do nothing else while you eat. Chew and, as you do, become aware of the texture and taste of the food. Resist the temptation to read, watch a video, talk, or do work while you're eating. Think about where the food came from and what it took to get it to you. Keep custody of the silence and notice how you connect to your food. Close your eyes. Listen to the sounds as you eat. Possibly gross but try it anyway.
Do it for Miyagi. By now you're either intrigued, puzzled, or thinking that my three suggestions are a little "woo-woo" or New Age-tinged for your tastes. Well, if that's the case, before you click off this post, think about Miyagi.
Waxing the car, painting the fence, and sanding the deck all seemed pretty useless to the Karate Kid. But, doing those tasks over and over eventually helped him develop real martial arts skills. Well, the introductory practices I'm suggesting will eventually help you hone your executive function and leadership skills. Going inside will make you better outside.
Put some time into these practices every day and you will come away better able to focus. You will also think more creatively, be better able to listen to your team, sustain your attention longer and deeper, and get traction on your most important priorities and plans.
You are working apart and yes, it's important to stay connected. But it's also an opportunity to connect with yourself. Don't squander it.