My head is so often full of words and scenarios that I sometimes have to make a conscious effort to step outside of that familiar space before making important decisions. It’s an occupational hazard.
Until recently, I would start every day trapped in my mind, going over how words or decisions might be interpreted – or worse, misinterpreted. Scenes played over and over in my head with slight changes to the script. I would choose words to explain, promote, advocate, defend – all swirling around as I prepared for the day.
Dr Stephen McKenzie and Dr Craig Hassed (Mindfulness for Life, 2012) explain the informal practice of mindfulness and how to pay attention in everyday life. Many research studies confirm that mindfulness reduces risk of mistakes and wasted time in the workplace, as well as the health benefits of reduced stress.
It’s not until I step out of my head, that clarity and peace return to my thought processes. Giving my attention to the current issue at the current time sharpens my intellectual approach and when I stop over-thinking, I make better decisions.
Here are my top 5 tips for more mindful decision-making:
- Remind yourself to just stop – be conscious of the times when ideas and responsibilities are gathering steam and before they overwhelm, step away and take a break.
- Head out into nature – or find the closest park to move your limbs, feel the grass under your feet, soak up the sights and breathe. Most of all, breathe. Even better, take your colleagues with you.
- Share your ideas because two heads are better than one – if you notice a thought being repeatedly churned over in your head, halt the negative cycle by getting the opinion of a trusted friend or colleague. For me, it’s a quick call to my business partner Liz Pommer whose wise words somehow reset my thoughts.
- Three or more heads are better still – collaborative decision-making leads to better results all round, so involve other team members at all levels of your organisation for a realistic view of the consequences of your decision. Ideas are like love, the more you share the more they grow.
- Be disciplined about being mindful – build into your day, opportunities to refresh your thinking by using a timer to set periods where you focus on work or the important elements of a pending decision. With this approach, you make a point of being present in the moment. Then, when the timer goes off, step away from your desk and step out of your head – just for a moment.