There are many things going on around us in our physical environment as well as distractions occupying our minds at any given time. With all of the challenges and noise we face in today’s world, it is difficult to be truly present in the moment we are in. This can be especially true at work. It is important to realize when our focus, attention, or mind is not fully present in the moment while completing a work task.
What does it mean to be truly present? For the purpose of this talk we are discussing where our focus and attention is in a given moment. All too often we are physically present somewhere, but our focus and attention are not. We have all been there. Whether it is during a safety meeting or when driving home, we zone out and quickly realize we have no clue what was said in the safety meeting or with the snap of a finger we are home but have no recollection of the drive. This kind of disconnect from the present moment can be extremely dangerous when at work.
Dangers of not Being Present While at Work
The dangers of not being fully present and engaged while at work are obvious. Two quick scenarios:
- Scenario #1 – A supervisor is going through the safety procedures for a new piece of equipment. Your mind begins to wander and you do not hear much of the discussion. Later that day while you are using the equipment a coworker’s hand gets caught in moving parts and you do not know where the emergency shutoff switch is.
- Scenario #2 – You are working in a plant during a shutdown and many different companies are performing work in a small area. You are not paying attention to where you are walking and totally miss multiple signs warning of overhead work being performed. A piece of pipe falls from the higher level and strikes you on the shoulder.
How to be Present
There are many reasons why we may not be present in any given moment. As individuals we vary greatly, but a few quick tips may help you be more in the moment the next time you find your mind wandering.
- Take note of how well you are focusing and where your mind is at. From there make the conscious choice to improve your focus and attention if needed.
- When you are part of a discussion or receiving directions make sure that you are actively listening to the person speaking. One way to become a better listener is to treat the information as something you are going to have to teach to a coworker. Receiving information with having the expectation that you will be responsible to pass on it can help ensure that you actively listen to the person speaking.
- Eliminate distractions from the physical work area. Things such as noise, clutter, chemicals, people, equipment, etc. can have a large impact on your ability to fully pay attention to what you are doing in any given moment at work. Eliminating distractions can make all the difference in whether or not you are able to fully focus on the task at hand.
- Eliminate any personal issues that are causing your mind to wander whenever possible. Often times personal issues cause our minds to not be fully present on our work. Try to calm your concerns or worries by making a phone call home if that will help solve the issue. If a discussion will not help the situation then maybe you need to take the rest of the day off.
It can be challenging to truly be present at work. Distractions, long hours, health issues, family problems, stress, etc. all plague us and our ability to be fully present in our work. It is only possible through recognizing where our focus and attention is and from there deciding to take the necessary steps to try to be more present in the moment we are in.