One of the things I’m trying to get a better handle on this year is being ‘in the moment’. Mindfulness seems to be the word I’m looking for. Looks like I just figured out one of my “three words for 2011“!

MindfulnessAt work I think about all the things I need to do instead of thinking about what I need to do right now.  Instead of getting up in the morning and worrying about the 46 things I have to get done before lunch, I want to start to BREATHE and pay attention to what I am doing at that moment.  Behaving like this always makes me full of stress and anxious about falling behind.  It’s going to take a lot of work to become mindful. It will be difficult to ditch the stress of thinking five steps ahead, decades of project management have drilled the obsessive planning and milestone checking into my head.  Since I’m a natural task and to-do list maker, the best way for me to combat this ‘thinking too far ahead’ mentality is to time block out my tasks.  Right now I work off of massively huge task lists – more like hierarchical, highly detailed outlines – and tend to look at everything all at once.  When I stare at a 14 page task list it becomes overwhelming.  My brain thinks GET IT DONE NOW and races to find ways to complete multiple items on multiple lists simultaneously.  I now realize it’s not my lists that are the problem, it’s how I manage my time.

I’ve taken to following my own professional advice and keep a calendar with big blocks of time to work on specific areas of my lists.  I think it might be easier to wake up and know that there are a specific handful of tasks I need to complete and anything else is icing.  Knowing in the morning I need to get my kids off to school without the huge cloud of “ZOMG I have a million things to do TODAY” hanging over me takes the pressure off.

I’m hoping to become more mindful in my life, especially with my family.  Coming home from work and still thinking about all the things I need to do when I jump back on the computer isn’t the best way to parent.  I should be with my kids – thinking about my kids, not work.  I came to this epiphany last night.  Late to the game since I’ve been a parent for over nine years, but hey, better late than never.  While my son was zooming around the family room my head was filled with the crushing task list to meet a deadline.  Now, when my three year old wants you to play with him, you don’t have much choice. Either you are playing with him on the floor in the family room or he is under your feet in your home office whining and surrounding you with a toy pile.  The time I need to give him is the same, and the work I get done is the same (zero).  Why not just sit on the floor and play rather than freak out about the work that I can’t get done anyway?

Be mindful, live in the moment, worry about NOW, reserve time to deal with other things.  I get that ‘stuff happens’ and throws a wrench in plans.  All I can do is make the very best of my time while I have it – when I have it.  Now all I have to do is find a way to practice this every day for 28 days until I can break myself of the habit of living in the future.  I need to carve out time to make change, take care of myself and my family, work the best work I can do, and lead the best way I know how.  It starts NOW.