Staying in the Moment

“If I only had more time!”

How often do you find yourself uttering that phrase? For me, it’s daily. Okay . . . multiple times a day!

In my team building and creativity workshops for businesses, I lead a game called “the gift giving game.” Participants give each other imaginary gifts.  It can be absolutely anything they can dream up. They even get to name the gifts they are receiving. I hear “new car”, “more money”, and all kinds of amazing trips every time I facilitate the game. One time, someone said “unlimited time” and everyone in the room had that “why didn’t i think of that?!” reaction.  We all stopped and looked at each other like we just heard the answer to life’s greatest mystery.  We had no limitations and we all had trouble imagining such a fantastic possibility!

So, recently I decided to think of ways that I could actually give myself the gift of more time. Sure, we will be getting an extra second at the end of this year to bring the atomic clock into sync with the earth’s rotation, but I need quite a bit more time more than that. And, since I have to work within the 24 hours that is truly possible, the only real possibility is to make a few important changes to better make use of the time I have.

As I do, I thought, “what can improv teach me?”  On stage we strive to make the most of every moment by really paying attention to what is happening on stage and not thinking about anything else. We are fully focused in the moment. I decided that I don’t do this enough off the stage and came up with one “crazy” idea… stop responding to work messages 24/7.

what?! no way!  can’t be done! you will fall behind.  that’s impossible, … wait that’s exactly how we all worked for the first 10 or more years of my career!  It must be possible.

So, I removed my work email accounts (I have several) from my iPhone. (gasp!)

Now that I can’t see who needs something from me at any time of day I truly rest and recharge when I am supposed to, like when i am at the pool, walking the dog, watching VEEP, or sailing. Heck, I even now have one fully uninterrupted “extra” minute to walk from my yoga studio to my car to reap the benefits of the mindfulness i just created. I can make it an entire city block without looking at my email! Victory!

And, when I sit down to work at my computer, I focus on work only.  I don’t open Facebook (excpet to post for work) or check my personal email. It turns out I can set some healthy boundaries and I am loving it! It truly does feel like there is more time in my day. Plus, I am less stressed. My blood pressure, which i check daily, has actually decreased in the past two weeks since I made this change.

It just seemed like the emails were never ending because I never let them end!

So, now I am overloaded with emails to catch up on, right? Wong!  I actually felt like I was more bombarded with messages when I was checking them regularly at all hours (like in bed when i would normally be reading a great book) than when i do now.  It turns out it just seemed like the emails were never ending because I never let them end!

Plus, I still maintain my “One Thing” inspired habit of spending the first 3 hours of each day focused solely on the things that are going to have the biggest impact on completing my major goals. Now my “one thing time” feels even more productive because I am so much more rested when I am doing it.

By the way I sound you’d think I’ve found the answer to life’s most challenging question. I didn’t but it feels a little like that.  I just realized one more way to live like I do on the stage, off the stage. In this case, I am finding ways to truly focus on one thing at a time and give that thing my full focus.

Improvisers practice this skill in many ways with lots of fun games.  Here is a really simple one that anyone can lead!

Let’s Play!  Improv Tug of War

The Goal: For two teams to play a tug of war game without a rope in a way that is convincing to onlookers
Number of Players: 4-18
How To Play: Split the group in two. Tell them they are going to play tug of war but there is no rope. They have to work as a group to convince any onlooker that they are really playing tug of war!
Why We Play It: This game challenges everyone to work together. Because the rope is not there, everyone must be very involved and focused on where the imaginary rope is at all times. Everyone gives and takes as the “rope” is pulled back and forth. Talk about how well the team did convincing onlookers they were really playing and then try again. Playing this game helps participants focus fully on a single task both individually and as a group.

After I post this I will check my email one last time for the day than I am off to sail and enjoy a friend’s birthday.  Any other emails will be there in the morning.  Try it and let me know if it works out for you!  How else do you “stay in the moment” and use your precious time well?

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