Managing Your Time Mindfully in a Fast Paced Career
The old adage “Time flies when you’re having fun” proves to be true whether you’re having actual fun or you’re just incredibly busy. In fact, I have noticed that the older I get, the more time seems to speed up, regardless of how I might try to slow things down. And while I can’t slow time down per se, I can adjust how I get swept up in the hailstorm by trying to remain conscious of what I am doing in each moment. The trick is to remain mindful rather than letting the thoughts drift frenetically, in time with all that is going on.
In other words, I try to inject my work life with a little bit of my yoga practice by engaging in mindfulness through the work day. While that might sound a little out there, mindfulness is just the practice of active, open attention to what you are doing in the present moment. It’s putting yourself fully in to a task and keeping your mind on that task.
It is relatively simple in theory yet challenging to put into practice. I think this is because we often go from one meeting to another, and these back-to-back meetings don’t always allow adequate time for preparing, shifting gears, or just taking a step back to absorb what we learned.
I have started to schedule breaks in between meetings or block off periods of time in my calendar when I am not open for meeting so I can attend to work. It has been a shift for me, but I’m coming to realize if I don’t carve that time, no one else will either. It’s a matter of reclaiming my schedule and maintaining a certain amount of control over it. The idea is not to be accommodating to others on my team or to clients because if I go straight through the day with meetings and calls, when do I get the work done? When do I provide myself with enough time to flesh out insights, to work with staff, to give my work 100% effort?
At the end of the day, we have competing priorities in Client Services between trying to maximize our time each day and trying to provide as much value as possible. When you allow yourself to be booked in meetings or calls for 7 hours out of an 8 or 9 hour workday, you are not going to have the stamina to provide as much value elsewhere. And when you are missing meetings to do your work or provide value, you are minimizing opportunities for collaboration.
Like almost anything else in life, time management is a balancing act. But unlike most other things in life, it is one area where you have a fair amount of control.