You know the conference call that drones on and on? The meeting that’s chock full of updates you’re not the least bit interested in?

You want to stay engaged. You do, you really do. But darn, it’s hard.

Try fiddle/scribble/doodle/dawdle.

If you’ve attended a training program and had a really fine facilitator, chances are she gave you some toys to play with. It’s the same principle. Malcolm Knowles, the grandfather of andragogy (the study of how adults learn), postulates that as adults, we’re used to being active. When this urge is squelched – as in a seemingly unending meeting of any kind – our mental and physical energy will be quickly squelched, as well. We check out.

You have been in those meetings. You remember your energy dips. You know.

So – decide to check in. Try fiddle/scribble/doodle/dawdle. Bring a toy to a meeting. Play with it. Doodle on a piece of paper. Mold some play dough. Squeeze a stress ball. Play with prayer beads. Jot down notes.

Yep, your colleague who’s been doodling in a note pad had it right, all along.

Simple kinesthetic activities energize us. They will not distract – no, they actually stimulate the right side of our brain. They strengthen our engagement and foster creative thinking. And they’re fun, to boot. Cool, right?

Let us be clear on this: Checking your texts and emails during a meeting is not checking in – it’s checking out. Surfing the net in the midst of a conference call is, yes, checking out. The old story about how we can all multi-task is really just that – an old story. The big fat I-can-be-present-for-everything-and multitask lie.

This week, have a strategy for managing your energy during a meeting. Choose to stay mentally engaged. Support this decision with kinesthetic activity. Fiddle/scribble/doodle/dawdle. Decide on one or two such activities that you enjoy. Experiment. Notice how a simple physical activity instantly sharpens your mental focus!