Mindful Business

I’m working away and another email comes in from a client asking a question. I sigh. This will take a while. It’s not a difficult question, in fact I get asked it often. But I have to think it through and write it out. This isn’t paid work and it will take time away from paid work. It is customer service work, so it is important.

I send a reply and get an email back asking for clarification about some of the points I made. This continues intermittently until I call the client, find out what they really need to know and answer that question.

Skip ahead 5 months.

Another client email asking for information about a topic. I get this question a lot. That makes it easy to reply. I go into my FAQ file and copy and paste the relevant answer. I take a few moments to think deeply about this client. How is she doing, what is she working on? Why is she asking this question? What does she really need? I continue to draft her email reply, editing the pasted FAQ answer to suit her.

By being mindful of my business, I realized I was answering many of the same questions and taking too long to do an ineffective job at it. I decided to fix that.

I invested the time necessary to draft up clear, concise answers to the FAQ’s (which I continue to refine based on feedback). Now, I can reply easily. I remain mindful by taking the time to make each reply useful. It means we’re not emailing back and forth for clarification. It means I provide much more value.

Mindfulness in your business means you spend less time and get better results. Mindfulness takes away worry, focuses your attention on what matters and brings a resulting sense of contentment.

What is mindfulness? From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness

“…as a mental factor it signifies presence of mind, attentiveness to the present, rather than the faculty of memory regarding the past. It has the characteristic of not wobbling, i.e. not floating away from the object. Its function is absence of confusion or non-forgetfulness. It is manifested as guardianship, or as the state of confronting an objective field. Its proximate cause is strong perception (thirasaññā) or the four foundations of mindfulness.[5]

I am a rank amateur in this and well over my head in trying to share what this all means, except that being mindful is the best way I can describe how I have managed to do all I have done. I am terrible at meditating and my monkey brain gets the better of me most of the time, but sometimes and more and more, I am fully right where I need to be.

Here’s what it looks like to me…

Be present.

Place your focus on the present moment. Think and feel deeply at this time. Not thinking about what happened or what will happen, but be here now. We’ll talk about review and  planning in a bit.

Expand your view. When you are stressed and upset, your worldview, your field of vision, shrinks. When you are fully present, your view opens up and you see more.

One task at a time.  Give your all and your best to what you are doing right now. Complete each task. It may mean blocking off sufficient time to do the task and making the expectation clear to those around you. Focusing on one thing at a time, means you get that one thing done well the first time.

Choose the right task. When you are mindfully diving into your next task, you naturally give thought to whether or not it is the best task to be doing. Is it the best way for you to spend your time?

Listen

To the person in front of you. Listen deeply enough so you hear what they are telling you, not just their words. Consider your reply after they have finished talking. Yes, that may mean a pause, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Conversations don’t have to be a race.

To yourself. How do you feel in this moment. What do you need? What is your body telling you? Do you heed your ‘Spidey Sense’? Do you recognize your intuition?

To what’s not spoken. Only a small part of communication is by words. Being mindful means being aware of what’s being communicated beyond and around the words.

Time

Expands! When you slow down. time slows down. I get the most done during the times when I slow down and work mindfully on one task at a time.

To Think. Being mindfully in the moment means setting time aside to think. You need to head into your head and think sometimes. Sure I like to savour doing the dishes, who am I kidding, that’s a great time for me to lose myself in thought. I keep a list of things I need to think about in my head, so that I’m not distracted trying to think about them at inappropriate times like when I should be focused on the task at hand; and I know what I need to think about when the time presents itself.

To Review. Set aside time to review what happened. Replaying the past can be a distraction, or worse, it can erode your sense of self. You know what that’s like.

When you deliberately set aside time to debrief after a situation, you can prepare yourself to look for the lessons and to acknowledge the good, the bad and the ugly. Learn from your mistakes and make your future actions work better for you.

To Discuss. Deep, juicy discussions are soul enhancing and mind expanding. Give yourself and your friends the gift of wonderful conversations.

I think there’s a lot more to explore here and I will post much more about this. In the mean time, what do you think? Does this resonate? How does this manifest for you?

Week 5 – Worksheet for How

Steps to Your Effortless Business:

  1. See that it does happen and believe that it can happen for you, too.
  2. Cultivate awareness of yourself and your business.
  3. Do things differently to get different results
  4. Eliminate what you don’t need.
  5. Start with the easiest, but start.
  6. Do, fail, do, win, celebrate and do some more.

I’m traveling this week, and I’m trying to make things easier, so I am posting your worksheet right here in the post.

It can happen

Can you do this? Can you make YOUR business effortless? Can you make your business EFFORTLESS?

Of course you can. Look around, you will find other people who have businesses that support the lifestyle they choose.

Examine your own life, you will find aspects of it that you have made effortless. You will find they are centered around your strengths, around systems you have set up and around what interests you.

Apply the same methods to the areas of your business that are not effortless.

What part of your life or business is effortless now?

What can you apply from that part to other parts that are not so effortless?

 

 

Comfort Zone

If you continue to do what you always did, you will continue to get the results you always got. You must be willing to try things a new way.

Do something out of your comfort zone this week. Talk to someone you wouldn’t normally talk to; break your routine, take on a task that you don’t know how to do, then figure out how to do it.

 

 

Eliminate

In order to make room for new ways, you will have to get rid of some old ways that are holding you back.

Eliminate one time suck from your routine this week. What will you eliminate? Automate the elimination, if you can (turn off email) or create a reminder to keep you on track. This is not easy to do. Cut yourself some slack. Keep at it.

 

 

Be willing to fail and be willing to celebrate your successes

Both of these are equally important. Failure is an inevitable consequence of trying new things. It’s also how we learn best. If we aren’t willing to fail, we won’t learn.

People don’t like failure. The hardest part of failure is what we think other people are thinking. The people we love want to see us happy, healthy, safe and wealthy. The people around us don’t want to see themselves in our failure. There are even people who delight in others’ failure so they can feel justified in not trying any more.

Choose one failure this week and think deeply about it to learn what you can from it. The more deeply you think it through, the more you will learn. It’s easy to find the superficial lessons, but more rewarding to think it through to get the more subtle lessons.

What failure will you think about?

 

What lessons did you learn?

 

 

 

Celebrating success is essential so that you reaffirm that behaviour. Focusing always on what isn’t done or working creates a constant state of anxiety. We need to come out of that state so we can repair the damage of stress on our bodies. We need to enter a state of joy and accomplishment so we can reaffirm the reasons for why we are doing this.

Choose one accomplishment this week and celebrate it. You could celebrate that you successfully eliminated a time sucking task!

Time and Space to Think

I just spent a jam-packed 5 weeks – 2 weeks planning, arranging, organizing, fighting-for and getting ready for my trip; 2 weeks traveling, meeting people, navigating and learning; and 1 week jamming a month’s worth of work to meet the 30 April accounting deadline.

I built time into my travel schedule. I had several overnight traveling options and I stayed for 2 days in Doha after the Summit. I did that because I know how important it is to have that time and space to think.

Still, for the past 2 days I find myself sitting in my chair staring out the window. Then feeling guilty. I have contacts to follow up, blog posts to write, workshops to organize and client work that still needs finishing.

If I don’t take the time to think, I will lose the opportunity to learn deeply about these experiences. If I don’t take that time, I will slip into old habits, doing the same old things in the same old way regardless of the changes I identified that I want to make.

I give myself permission to sit staring out the window. I give you permission to do the same thing.