Reap the Rewards of Everyday Transitions

It’s that time of year. Major transitions.

We switch from work mode into holiday mode. We transition from one year to the next. A time to recalibrate, an impulse toward reflection. We tend to savor these shifts.

On any given work day, we are likely to hustle through a host of activities. One activity butts up against the next. No transition times. None. As we settle into bed at night, the day that passed seems like a giant blur.

Not much savoring went on.

Transitions create separation. They sharpen our focus. They crystallize individual moments. And they are so easily created. Here are some very simple ways in which you and I can harness the power of transitions, every single day:

1. Appointment Transitions Whenever possible, give yourself 5 minutes between meetings. If you’re the one who leads the meeting, end 5 minutes early so everyone in attendance gets their 5 minutes. During these 5 minutes, resist the temptation to fill it with frenetic activity. These are 5 minutes to reflect on the preceding activity. 5 minutes to get mentally prepared for the next event. Instead of carrying the energy of one segment of your day into the next, you proceed with clear focus and a fresh purpose.

2. Meeting Transitions

When you begin a meeting, resist the temptation to dive right into the agenda. Chances are, no one present is fully ready to engage. Give yourself 5 minutes of transition time at the start of the meeting. 5 minutes of “soft” social engagement. 5 minutes for a brain teaser, a humorous video. These are 5-minutes of “get present” time. Take 5 minutes, and you will be rewarded with a significantly more engaged conversation.

3. Mealtime Transitions

It pains me that some folks don’t have time to take a lunch-break at work. I also don’t much favor the environment in which your company feeds you in-house, as appealing as that may seem. Lunch-time is a potent opportunity to shake it up. Get out of the office. Get a bit of fresh air – literally and metaphorically. Decompress and re-energize yourself. A whiff of out-of-office energy will powerfully infuse every one of your post-lunch activities. Savor your food transitions.

4. Evening Transitions

How often has your spouse admonished you for “bringing your work home with you” at night? This comment usually does not imply you’re doing actual work at home. No, you are mentally still at work. Talking compulsively about events of the day.  Carrying work stress in your body. Make sure you have clear transitions between work time and home time. Time at the gym. A run. 10 minutes of meditation. 10 minutes of laying on your bed, doing nothing. Time where you simply stop.

The rewards of an everyday transition? You suddenly experience a lot more texture in any given day. Individual portions of your day stand out. Individual activities become more meaningful.

And you are more productive, to boot.

You like rewards, don’t you?