Mindfulness, living in the now, staying present, and stillness are not only concepts we associate with Eastern philosophy but have become part of business strategy. Companies like Google, LinkedIn and Spotify all incorporate mindfulness practices into their wellness programs.
The good news is if you are not a meditator or you feel like you don’t have time to include anything more into your schedule, I have a micro habit for you that will provide the same benefits, and you don’t have to sit on the floor to get them.
Ready for it?
I set an alarm to go off ten minutes before every meeting.
Setting an alarm may not sound like much, but this micro habit keeps me focused, mindful, and present. Here is the logic behind the habit:
It forces me to look at my calendar the day before.
I usually do this ritual at the end of my day, so I have a clear plan for the day ahead and allows my mind to start percolating ideas about the various commitments.
Setting the alarm ten minutes before each meeting creates a mental checklist — do I need to prepare anything? Do I need to provide feedback? Is there any information I need from someone else ahead of the meeting?
It allows me to prepare with calm confidence as opposed to panicking at the last minute. Remember — failure to plan on my part should not constitute an urgency on yours.
It gives me space to set an intention.
When my alarm goes off ten minutes before, it gives me space to set my intention for the meeting ahead. I think about the kind of skill I want to demonstrate, the emotion I want to bring to the meeting, and what the person needs to feel, think and do as a result of the meeting.
If it’s a talk, I take a moment and get clear on what outcome I want to create. If it’s a coaching client, I reflect on our previous discussion and think about what they need to hear most.
When you set your intention, it provides a different level of awareness and focus. If you’re into fitness, I’m sure you have a plan for the training session. Maybe it’s your day to train legs so that’s where your attention goes and you create a session to meet the goal.
If you just walked into the gym, you may get overwhelmed by the choices you could do for that day. Before you know it, your time is up and you haven’t really achieved anything meaningful.
I know every meeting won’t always be fireworks but at least by taking time to set an intention with deliberate focus, you will be able to contribute more effectively.
It allows me to press reset.
When the alarm goes off, it jolts me back into the present moment. It reminds me to stop what I am doing and take a few slow deep breaths to centre myself.
Perhaps I had a challenging morning and now need to step into a coaching session. I cannot bring the baggage of emotions from my morning into a new session.
When my alarm goes off, it forces an automatic reset. I consciously let go of everything that happened or anything on my mind and put it down so I can step into the session clear, focused, and on a clean slate.
You can also use this technique as a trigger to transition between when your workday ends and your personal time begins. You may tell yourself that you log off at 17:30 but at 17:50, you are still checking your Inbox one last time in case something urgent came in. When the alarm goes off at 17:30, it is officially quitting time.
What happens if you don’t have the luxury of a ten-minute gap?
There will always be days when you have back-to-back meetings scheduled, making it challenging to take this much-needed pause ten minutes before each one.
In this case, you can create the habit of taking a few deep breaths when you end your meeting so you can step into the next one with a clear focus. Imagine pressing a mental reset button to let go of anything on your mind and set your intention. You need less than a minute to do this.
The reset button is not limited to work. I do this with my kids when they start bickering with each other. I asked them to choose their reset button on their body; mine is my heart centre, my daughter is her throat, and my son is his tummy.
It’s a great way to break the tension and not allow their bickering to escalate. I call ‘Ok, time to press reset’, and it immediately calms down everyone.
If you only have a few seconds before the next meeting, you can always press your reset button. It’s a cue to smile, take a breath, let go of any tension and move into the meeting the way you would like to feel.
The ultimate benefit of this micro habit of setting an alarm ten minutes before each meeting is that it provides a choice for how you would like to show up despite what happened that day. You always have the choice to:
· Set your intention
· Press reset
· Stay present
Here’s to showing up with intention,