Many of us spend too much time thinking about past issues in our work lives. Some of us are idealists and spend too much time in the future. It is helpful to reflect on our past and certainly a good idea to plan the future. However, the most important day is today. If we are grounded in the present, we can be most effective. Why, because the present is when we can act. We can’t change the past and we can only achieve our future goals based on the action we take today.
How do you train yourself to live and work in the present?
1.) Get One Thing Done Early in the Day
Do you have trouble “getting out of your head” so you can get some work done? Or, perhaps you are so overwhelmed with your workload, a past disappointment, or a big goal looming in the future that you feel paralyzed. If this sounds familiar, you can overcome this by getting one thing done early in the day. The task may be small. Maybe it is clearing out your Spam folder or responding to one email. You’ll find that action and accomplishments lead to progress and accomplishments.
2.) Fully Focus on the Task at Hand
Part of the reason we drift to the past or future is that we allow our minds to wander. One tactic to overcome this is to concentrate on what you are doing at the moment. If you are in a meeting, look at the person talking and actively listen to every statement. It may help to take notes to reinforce your engagement. If you are creating a spreadsheet, be mindful of every step. Inside your head, you may say, “Now I need to create this formula for the model to work.” (Try to only talk in your head to avoid stares from those around you!) Focusing decreases your tendency to stray off task. If you begin to lose focus, acknowledge this and get back on task.
3.) Let it Go!
Do you have that colleague that tends to remind you of past annoyances regarding a project or client? Or, maybe you save an email and re-read it ten times to torture yourself about why you did not do something differently? Don’t let the past define how you will spend your time today or what your future results will be. It’s great to review and learn. However, once you have learned, let it go! (OK, how many of you were hearing the song from Frozen?)
Take control of your thoughts and be deliberate about your actions. Actively work in the present and you will make strides to achieve your future goals.