Finding time to stop and listen, especially if you’re busy, stressed, or on a creative and/or productive roll, can be a huge challenge. Picture it! You’re racing to meet a deadline, or you’re churning out work and creative ideas like there’s no tomorrow. How do you feel when something interrupts you?
Maybe it’s a call from a colleague. Maybe it’s question from your child, or maybe even just a friend stopping by to say hi. What do you do in that moment?
Of course, if you have established some time boundaries, you could remind the person of that boundary, say that you’re busy, and indicate that you’ll be available to talk or listen or answer that question later. (Be sure to give as specific time that “later” refers to if you can — especially if you’re speaking to a child!)
But there may be circumstances in which you want or need to find time to listen right then. How do you manage that for yourself?
Here are five tips that I have found helpful when I am making the choice to stop, breathe, and listen!
- Always use the two times rule, building in extra time for your tasks from the very beginning. This will give you some room for flexibility, if you want to pause during your task.
- Be sure you let your values guide your choices. Whatever you decide, strive to not create regret for yourself. Remember that you will always be able to learn from your experience, no matter what.
- Try doing a quick cost/benefit analysis of the situation. Will what I am doing matter in 10 minutes? Will it matter in 10 days, 10 weeks, 10 years? This may help clarify the direction you want to choose.
- Can someone help you? Can you hand off your task to someone else, either temporarily or permanently, so that you can attend to whatever has come up?
- Always, always, always… take a breath and step into your wise mind before responding.
Do you find time, sometimes, to stop, breathe, and listen when you’re interrupted? How do you choose when to be flexible and when to keep to your plan and maintain your time boundaries? There are no hard and fast rules … so how do YOU decide?
© Copyright 2010 Paula Eder, Ph.D.