This morning I put on my watch. Not a big deal, right? Perhaps you did as well. For me, it is. I am returning to more regular work after a 12-month maternity leave. On my last day of work in August 2013, the battery in my watch died. My daughter arrived 4 days later.
While to some that may seem like a coincidence, I decided to take it as a symbol of the new way I would mark time. Transitioning from busy days, going from one meeting and project to the next, to a phase in which my schedule revolved around waking, eating, sleeping – and yes, laundry! This time was about cherishing fleeting newborn moments and early childhood firsts, while watching my boys explore their worlds as well.
In the last year, I thought a lot about time and how I choose to value it. One challenge I had was that although I had every reason to take it easy and enjoy some down time, it was hard to slow my mind and focus on what was happening right in front of me. To help turn this around, I worked hard to be more mindful during specific times in my day. Some of my strategies included concentrating on my breathing and feeling grateful for the strength of my muscles during my workout or when I went for a walk; looking my kids in the eye, at their level and without having my cell phone in my hands so I could really listen to them; and making sure all screens and other interruptions were turned off at most family dinners.
While I can’t say I’ve reached a state of mindfulness all of the time, I’ve noticed a difference from my efforts. I have had more fulfilling conversations and richer experiences by staying present. And now, as I alternate glancing at my watch and at my children’s faces – understanding that I’m about to once again combine my family and work lives - I hope that I can continue to mark time in this way.
How about you? Are there times you can completely clear your mind, only focusing on what’s right at hand? Do you want to make changes to how you use and value your time at work and at home? Share your story with us.