John’s Perspective: My Tips for Mindfulness in Meetings
We all talk and hear about “mindfulness” – how to be more mindful at work, with your friends and family, and in our daily lives. While there is a lot of advice floating around on this topic, here’s my advice for how I stay mindful in work meetings.
Phone down and on silent
Unless I have a meeting when there is a truly urgent personal matter, I endeavor to always put my phone face down and on silent. This sounds simple, but I am constantly surprised by how many people I see who leave their screens visible during meetings. Doing this one thing keeps me from being distracted by incoming texts and emails. It also helps me lose track of time (in a good way), so that I’m not constantly watching the clock.
I’m not a smartwatch-wearer, but for the more tech-savvy, I also recommend you turning your notifications off, so you aren’t being alerted about incoming calls, texts, and emails during your meetings.
Watch and listen to the speaker
It happens to the best of us in meetings, especially when the topic isn’t of particular interest: we inadvertently stop listening to the speaker. One trick I’ve found to keep this from happening is to keep my eyes on the speaker, particularly their mouth, as they are speaking. For me, this keeps me focused on what the speaker is saying and helps me process the information more efficiently. Because honestly, it is such a waste of time if you’re sitting in a meeting and you’re not even processing the information.
Take notes the old-fashioned way
I love my laptop, but unless I need to use it in a meeting to view a specific screen or project, I try to keep it out of meetings. This serves a two-fold purpose: 1) I’m not distracted by incoming emails, and 2) I then have to record information by hand, in a notebook. Though I can generally type more quickly than I can write, I’ve found that handwriting my notes makes them resonate more. It also gives me the added satisfaction of getting to “cross-off” action items, a pleasure that one does not get when typing their notes.