Manager: Can you update me on what was discussed during the meeting?
Employee: Actually, nothing that I can gather
Manager: Nothing was discussed for over an hour?
Employee: They discussed quite a bit, but nothing connected to me
Manager: Were you listening?
Employee: I was dialled into the bridge, but I was updating my performance appraisal comments
Manager: I was told that they asked for you when the topic of change management arose, but you didn’t respond
Employee: Oh! Sorry I didn’t hear
This is a common sight in IT. We subscribe to multiple activities without a clear plan on how we are going about achieving it. We dial into meetings, just for the attendance, and don’t really listen in. We attend conferences and seminars because somebody asked us to. The drive that gets us to do things is superficial, and lacks the motivation to take it across the line.
What are we getting out of these obligational activities?
Why are we not doing what we are supposed to be doing with all our mind and heart?
The answer to it lies in the fact that we think we are too smart to handle simultaneous activities. We believe that we are overachievers, so we can multi-task.
The reality is rather scary, if you think about it. While we set out to do a number of things during the same slot, we are ending up doing no justice to either one of the activities that we line up. The employee in the hypothetical conversation was not listening in on the meeting, and was completing performance appraisal feedback comments. The activity which he was supposedly concentrating, was done with partial focus, concentration and attention. He was getting distracted with the call, his sub-conscience mind waiting for his name to be called out, or for the areas of his interest being mentioned.
He was neither there nor here.
This situation is common to most of us today. We multi-task all the time. There was a time when multi-tasking was looked at as the person’s shining armor to over achieve. Not anymore! Studies and research have pointed to deliverables that are below par when multi-tasked.
When we can achieve the best of our ability, why should we settle for anything less?
The buzzword for concentrating on a single activity, for being aware of the surrounding and to focus on the job at hand is mindfulness.
It is the state of our minds where we remain active and attentive to the happenings around us. When we remain mindful of our surrounding, we observe things, we enjoy the moment, we don’t miss the obvious or implied meanings, and most importantly, we don’t judge things as good or bad. We see things as they are to be.
For IT Professionals
For IT professionals, it is imperative that we practice mindfulness. It is the necessity of our jobs to be immersed in what we do. It is a competitive world out there. Any mistakes, or sub-quality products will drive us down the hierarchical career cycles.
When we jump onto a call, we do nothing but listen in on all things discussed. Even if we are a mere passenger on it, we never know, we could learn something that we could use to our advantage.
The best way to practice mindfulness it is to slice down your calendar, and put down the activities you are going to be performing. In the nick of the moment, if another activity takes priority, drop what you are doing, recalibrate, and start working on the prioritized item. In short, do one thing at a time, do it completely and fully.
Mindfulness is not something that you can start cultivating 100% from day one. It is like a muscle in your body. You need to work it every day for it to grow stronger, and become a habit.
In the future posts, I will provide a few more techniques that you could use to practice mindfulness, and deliver exceptionally.