Mindful Project Management
By Diana Eskander
What is mindfulness?
Well, one thing we know for sure is that it’s a pretty hot topic these days.
A simple definition of mindfulness is being present and aware of what’s happening internally and externally in our surrounding environments, right now, in this very moment.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
So the question begs, how can mindfulness relate to – and better yet improve – project management? Here are a few side effects of mindfulness and ways they can transcend into your professional role as a project manager.
The first and most obvious benefit relates to being present. When you’re meeting with your team and key stakeholders, the ability to remain in the present moment, while not focusing on the past which is gone, or the future which doesn’t yet exist (and which will largely depend on what you do in THIS moment), means you can be fully engaged in the discussion. This allows you to give people your complete undivided attention, to hear their ideas and concerns (expressed explicitly and subliminally), and to keep enough space in your mind to cultivate your own ideas.
When you’re present, you can see the challenges in front of you without the fog of stress and anxiety. Your senses are heightened enough to observe the subtleties of the situation and to make the necessary adjustments. Your awareness allows you to see the whole picture and all the moving pieces, so that you can make decisions and come up with solutions that are based on a holistic understanding of the challenge at hand.
Mindfulness doesn’t mean having no emotions; it means being aware of the emotions as they start to arise, so that you can take intentional actions, as opposed to mindless reactions. It’s about not letting your emotions control you and recognizing the emotions in others – and how they may be contributing to the solution or the issue. Your calmness gives your team confidence.
When you’re mindful and able to focus, you can help your team do the same. While they may find it tempting to fall into the lure of multitasking, clarity allows you to see what tasks should precede others and you can gently bring them back to their priorities.
As a Project Manager, you owe it to yourself and your team to show up to the office with a positive vibe and with clearly set intentions. Starting your day off with a mindfulness practice such as meditation, can help you slow down, and purposefully choose your attitude and goals for the day. You become aware that you have the ability to choose what kind of energy you want to embody, project and carry with you throughout the day.
The clarity that comes with mindfulness allows you to choose your “battles” wisely by knowing what you have the power to change, and focusing your energy in that direction – while surrendering and accepting what you simply cannot control. Mindfulness makes it possible to see things clearly, keep emotions and stress in check and take everything in stride – with the clarity to mitigate future risks and changes.
Project managers who embody mindfulness can motivate and inspire their teams, distill constant feedback into key takeaways and communicate clearly at all levels.
Diana Eskander is a Project Manager at Genius Project. Genius Project by Cerri.com delivers a highly flexible and configurable portfolio and project management management software allowing tailored feature sets for a wide array of project teams and project types.