The connection between mindfulness and time management is strong, and it can increase a learning leader’s ability to better manage their time.
The most effective way to lead is through self-management — the ability to manage our internal world, thoughts, emotions and time. For example, if you arrange a meeting, it’s important to be on time. If you aren’t, when it’s time for the next meeting, your employees and colleagues might not show up on time, because they won’t expect you to be there.
Self-management, and consequently time management, begins with the ability to better manage yourself. And the foundation for self-management is mindfulness.
Unitasking vs. Multitasking
You may have been taught that multitasking is a great practice — that it helps you accomplish more in less time. Research has shown the folly of that assumption: Multitasking drains us faster, making us less productive. It slows us down and decreases the quality of work, and heavy media multitaskers are paying a big mental price.
No one is born to multitask. Our brain does just one thing at a time. Being mindful and present in every task increases focus, productivity and even our ability to experience meaning in our work.
If you have many tasks, practice dividing your day into small chunks. Practice being present and involved in each task. This way, even if you can’t finish all your tasks in one day, you’ll achieve accuracy and completeness in each one.
No matter how carefully you plan your day, it can take its own course. There are phone calls, emails and often the need to switch direction on a project. Mindfulness and the ability to see clearly can help you manage time better.
Being mindful helps to be intentional and see things more clearly. So, it’s a good idea to start the day with 10 minutes of meditation. Clear your mind and set an intention for the day, how you want it to flow. Then you can see clearly what you want to achieve.
After your meditation, write down your assignments, and set your schedule in advance. Separate the big tasks from the small ones. Then decide how to divide your attention, according to the importance of the various tasks.
Learning to Say NO!
To manage your time better and accomplish your goals, it’s important to be assertive and not accept every challenging task. Many times, leaders accept a task that’s not in their job description, and then become frustrated when they feel overwhelmed.
In becoming mindful, you can learn to listen to yourself and others more deeply. You can decide if what you have been asked to do is your duty — or that of someone else. Being mindful helps can help you connect to yourself more fully and acknowledge how you feel about a request.
If you feel uncomfortable, sit with that uncomfortable feeling, and try to figure out what it means. This is what being mindful is all about — connecting to a feeling or emotion, without acting on it.
For example, if you feel a fear of rejection, your automatic reaction might be to act on that feeling to not feel rejected. You might act to please the other person, even if it hurts in the end, rather than gently turning down the request. Being mindful means acknowledging this emotion, giving it space and figuring out the right way to act.
In a paradoxical way, people will respect you more when you know how to establish boundaries. If you don’t, and you accept extra tasks, there is a chance that you won’t be able to deliver as promised. It’s better to overcome the initial uncomfortable feeling of saying no than to say yes and fail to deliver.
As you become more mindful and present in the moment, you can become more focused and creative, accomplish more in less time, enjoy your tasks and create meaning at work.