It's so good to be back! During my trip to the Golden State, I stumbled upon this eye-opening article written by Jeff Haden, a real estate mogul, all-around budding entrepreneur, and contributing writer for Inc. Magazine. Our industries are worlds apart, but his words held a truth that struck me. I must share it with you. Hopefully, it will open your eyes, too.
The trip to California had placed me squarely in the present. There's nothing like a new environment to get your juices flowing, so I had been especially hyperaware and absorbent of the moments that encompassed during our too-short weekend there. However, research shows the average person's mind spends about 50% of its time "wandering." Thinking about the past. Trying to predict the future. Too preoccupied in the present. Drifting from distraction to distraction.
That's normal. What psychologists call "attention cycling" not only helps keep us safe—get too hyper-focused on a call and you might not notice a stop sign—but also helps us learn from the past and make plans for the future. Yet when your attention cycles so quickly, you enter a state the cognitive neuroscientist Amishi Jha calls "hazy autopilot mode." You aren't really paying attention to anything. Your thoughts drift from task to task, from distraction to distraction, from the future to the past.
The solution is to be more mindful.
Not everyone is a fan of "mindfulness." Maybe it sounds a little too psychology 'frou-frou' for some. Maybe it's a little too "new-agey" for you. A little too... something. But what everyone can do, sans all the frou and new-aginess, is take a beat and focus. Every person on this planet deserves that. And this is where Jha's book, Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day, provides an answer. Jha recommends using the STOP method, triggered by normal daily cues, to remind yourself to be mindful of the present.For example, say you have to stop at a red light.
That's great for broader mindfulness. It never hurts to tell yourself to take a breath and slow down.
Research agrees. Improved mindfulness can improves resilience, help reduce stress and anxiety, and improve memory and decision-making skills.
Try to push aside all distractions and—while it sounds kind of meta—think about thinking about resource planning, or whatever it is you're into or can relate to. I remind myself that the point isn't to rush through my mental review and mentally scurry to whatever is next. The point is to focus and think and do that one thing as well as I possibly can.Taking a few moments to pause and think and focus has made a big difference.
And it could for you too. Maybe, before you pick up the phone to follow up with a prospect, you'll decide to pause and think about what they need... and not just how desperately you need to make a sale. Maybe you'll decide to pause in your car before you head into work to think about the kind of leader you want to be. Maybe you'll decide to pause at the door to your house to think about the kind of person you want to be with your loved ones.
Pick a few everyday cues and use them to spark a few moments of focus on what really matters.
Sure, it might feel like you're wasting precious time in an already busy day—but you'll more than get that time back in improved effectiveness and efficiency.
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