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power points

A delivery person crosses Bay Street in downtown Toronto on Nov. 23, 2020.GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images

Our days are ruled by the urge for greater and greater productivity, as we respond to e-mails, deadlines, and goals. But consultant April Rinne says that just gets us in trouble. Instead, we need to slow down and gauge presence – your own, and that of others you lead in.

For example, rather than count the number of meetings you squeeze into a day, she writes on Thrive Global that you need to measure “your ability to be fully in a moment, experience or decision. One meeting in which everyone is fully present is worth more than a thousand meetings in which people are distracted.”

Presence is about attention and response. They’re interrelated: You respond to what you’re paying attention to. “When you’re running fast, you’re unable to pay full attention. When you’re scattered, you pay attention to the wrong things, which often botches your response,” she says.

She urges you to try a stillness practice. Not meditation, but simply sitting still for 30 seconds, and then building up to five minutes or more, observing. Or start a silence practice – find five minutes of silence each day to wrap yourself in what’s around you. A third, related practice, is patience. “Pick something that you know will take time – say, waiting for an appointment – and deliberately don’t fill that waiting time with social media apps, calls, word games or whatever else. Just be … and wait,” she says. Add to all that a not-to-do list, which delineates what you shouldn’t put effort into, and frees up time for what counts.

Overall, the idea is to “run slower” – the first of eight guidelines she offers in her recent book Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change. She says the pace of change has never been as fast as it is today – and yet it is likely to never again be this slow. We are all rushing, scattered and less effective than we might be. “And yet, the crux of the solution is simple: slowing down improves your chances of getting the issue and your response right. But that’s not all: you discover that time is what you perceive it to be. When you slow down, you actually have more time,” she writes in the book.

On another front, she urges you to bring coddiwompling into your life. It’s a concept that means to travel in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination. Instead of being wrapped up in “making it” – hitting a fixed milestone for this part of your career, be willing to meander a bit. “A coddiwompler has peace of mind because she’s not waiting to be someone or for something else to happen,” Ms. Rinne writes. “She’s comfortable getting lost because … she knows that’s where the truly worthwhile opportunities are.”

Getting lost actually is more likely when the world around us is in flux. But we resist, wanting control. Instead, adopt the mindset of a traveller. Notice the emotions triggered when unexpected change hits. Think like a coddiwompler, trying to travel purposefully to an as-yet-unknown destination.

As well, she says it’s helpful to know your “enough.” We live at a time when more is better – not just consumption of goods, but in all aspects of our life, from how much money we need to what is enough integrity or well-being. “Even people with good intentions and myriad accomplishments still crave ‘more,’” she notes.

That tethers us to a hamster wheel of endless seeking. Instead, learn what’s enough. Pare back excess while still lifting up those in need. Along with coddiwompling and running slower, she believes it can help you navigate an era of flux.

Quick hits

  • When delegating, consider who will be the engine and who will be the caboose in the venture. Consultant Charles Gilkey says often when the subordinate is new you imply they are the engine – in charge of what’s being delegated – when they aren’t prepared for that role and you need to be clear you are the engine, while they are the caboose. In other cases, sit in the caboose and let subordinates operate the train.
  • Salespeople should see themselves as the voice of potential consequences, says trainer Nick Miller, a role they play with their children but also must with their clients, warning of the dangers if they head in a bad direction.
  • An alternative to bullet points in a presentation is to use colour to distinguish between several items on a slide, advises librarian and marketing trainer Ned Potter.
  • To find out if a prospective employer is right for you, executive recruiter Gerald Walsh suggests inviting your immediate boss out for a coffee or a lunch to know them and their values better, since he or she will be central to how the job turns out.
  • If an app freezes on your desktop, rebooting the computer could lead to corruption of data or lost files, warns Windows expert Eric Wyatt. Instead, close it through the task manager (found by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc) or hit Alt+F4, which close the app as well.

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