Ways to distinguish yourself #145 – Create an environment to be (more) present

Note: The “more” in the heading was added after the fact. When I was discussing this article with someone whose opinions I respect, I got a quick and candid feedback that it is really not the presence that is the problem as only “dead” people who are not present. It is the “level” of presence that is the problem. Same difference between existing and living.

I love Deepak Chopra‘s quote on the same topic. Deepak says

Past is history;
Future is mystery;
This moment is a GIFT. That’s why it’s called the PRESENT.

A simple approach for me would have been just to say “Be present.” If it was that easy, I think there would be fewer problems in this world. People are either analyzing the past or worrying about the future for most part of their waking time. Add to this, fortunately or unfortunately the technological revolution that has almost taken over our lives. Here are a few examples of that

a) We can now multi-task

Meaning we can chat with four people in four IM (Instant Messenger) windows while also editing a document, reviewing a spreadsheet, updating a presentation and of course, keep tab of new mails that are flowing through.

b) We have an “always-on” connection

Meaning “playing with our kids in the park” or “watching a movie with our spouse” is now very peaceful until an email arrives with the “push” technology that requires our “urgent” attention. We can respond real-time and get back to the park or the movie in an uninterrupted fashion.

Let’s take a simple scenario. You are talking to someone and you are also answering your cell phone and checking messages. Isn’t it obvious that you are not “fully present” for the other person? People can easily know whether you are “present” for them. They also know your “level of presence.” So rather than thinking about trying to just “sneak in” a few more things, you can start creating an environment where you can be “more” present. Here are some tips:

a) Write rather than type: I know it is old-school to write. But in a book, it is hard to multi-task. So you can focus better.

b) Switch off your email (in whatever form) during a conversation: Either the conversation is important or your email. It can’t be both. One has to take precedence over the other.

c) Check to ensure that there are less interruptions: You can ask your secretary to hold off all calls until the meeting ends. You can turn the monitor away from you. You can switch off your cell phones. You know environment to create to have less interruptions.

d) Take a long walk alone (without your cell phone): We are bombarded with messages (thousands of them) almost everyday from so many channels (newspapers, TV, internet, email, in-person etc.) and you can easily get drowned in information. You can take a long walk to get an “information break” and be “present” for yourself for a change.

Think about the environment you work, you meet or you spend time alone. How many interruptions can you handle? Do you want to be reactive or proactive? Whater you do, please get off the JIMP syndrome. Overall, know that it is easy to be “more” present if you take time to create an environment where you CAN be “more” present.

Note: For other articles in the same series, please visit my Squidoo lens on the same topic.
Link: Squidoo Lens: Distinguish Yourself