All leaders face the challenge of down time, both personally and professionally. Standing in line, waiting for the takeoff, sitting before a performance, and idling in traffic are the common challenges of a busy world. Whether this time is productively spent or creates boredom depends on your approach.
Preparing for predictable moments of downtime is exceptionally hard to do. The ability to engage others through smartphones has made the task much more manageable. Yet, even the phone can’t save us from the boredom associated with empty time when we are waiting and the line is nudging us forward, or when traffic moves at a crawl.
To feel more productive and engaged, and reduce the frustration of dead time, one option is to use the moment to relax by becoming mindful. Mindfulness is a form of meditation which can lower the stress and anxiety of wait time. We are engaged in mindfulness anytime we are intensely aware of what we are feeling and sensing in the moment.
This version of meditation allows the mind to decompress and seek relaxation through a hyper-focus on thoughts, details, and feelings as they arise in the moment. When we are truly mindful, we become curious and take on a beginner’s mindset, attempting to examine the physical environment as if we have never seen it before.
Those who engage and practice mindfulness in downtime look forward to the effects this meditation has on their mental state, often describing the experience as restful. You can encourage yourself to prepare for these opportunities by appending the word “meditation” to any activity that includes down time. “Waiting-in-the-grocery-line meditation” and “sitting-in-traffic meditation” are examples.
Try adding the word meditation to any experience where you might become bored, transforming the situation from empty time to productive time. If the best way to relax is to pay full attention, then don’t miss the opportunity to do so. Your brain needs downtime to unwind.