Grabbing five minutes in a day to escape the mayhem of business demands, family duties and friendly obligations can feel like a long-lost dream or perhaps an unattainable goal. I know from experience. As an entrepreneur, dealing with a growing team and new, exciting challenges every day, it’s hard not to get caught up in the freneticism of everything swirling around me.
I’ve realized it’s much more difficult to know what’s working or not working and where we can take action if we aren’t aware of how we’re feeling and reacting in the moment. If we’re not aware of the moments happening to us and around us, we are constantly holding ourselves back from becoming better business people and leaders.
Let’s be real here: What will waiting five minutes to answer that millionth email really hurt? You know that voice in your head is saying nothing, and it is right. Five minutes can feel like an eternity sometimes, but it is only 300 seconds out of the 84,600 seconds we’ll live today. This is what I call a small commitment to gain big returns, both professionally and personally.
With this in mind, here are five, five-minute exercises I’ve found to help create awareness and take control of the moments that can define businesses and careers.
1. Remember why you’re here.
I decided that if I was going to start a company, it needed to be something that I was passionate about. Most people do. But that passion can get lost along the way and, without it, chances of success are far less likely. Take a moment at the beginning or end of each day to remind yourself why you started this endeavor and what it is that keeps you going. Then create a physical reminder that you can refer to whenever you need a quick focus. For me, it’s a paperweight with a special inscription.
2. Dive into the right details.
Accomplished leaders understand that by observing and being detail oriented, they can more efficiently cut through confusion when it comes time to make tough decisions or take big risks. However you need to know when to dive into the weeds and when to delegate. By filtering your daily to-do list with the simple question, "where will the details make a difference?," you can become aware of key priorities. This will help shape your day and make room for more impactful activity.
3. Write it down.
I keep a five-year journal that I try to write in each night. It offers an insightful glimpse into my past and a reminder of how far I’ve come. It keeps me humble and motivated, showing me where I’ve been and giving a glimpse of where I could go. Taking a few minutes to write down your feelings forces you to assess your current situation and emotional state. It provides an invaluable tool for spotting trends and determining how best to move forward.
4. Cultivate a check-in network.
Sometimes it takes an outsider to help you recognize that you’re losing sight of your goals (or your sanity). Cultivating a network of trusted individuals who you can call or text at the drop of a dime can be all that you need to get into the moment and out of the chaos. Regardless of industry, position, seniority or other mitigating circumstances, find people you trust and who understand the importance of being a sounding board. You’ll be amazed at what a great reminder it is to know that you’re not going it alone.
5. Create a sacred space.
If you think about it, you probably have one or two places where you get your best thinking done. It can be a joyous moment when you’ve stepped into this sacred place and all of a sudden the lightbulbs goes off. Ideally, this place for me is a beach or a yoga class. Since these aren’t always reachable, I’ve learned to make long flights work to my advantage or simply hiding my phone to make the most of my manicure time. Determine where a realistic place is for you, if you haven’t already, to maximize awareness. It’s a quick exercise that will pay off again and again.
In the world of startups and 24/7 business, it is never easy to slow down. But moments of awareness and self-assessments should be on every entrepreneur’s to-do list. Mindfulness is a powerful tool that will transform your business and your personal trajectory.
Dare yourself to be aware and see what transformation it brings.