Dictionaries describe ‘mindfulness’ as a state in which you are focused on yourself and the present moment, calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings and thoughts. In reality, I think it means different things to different people but it’s an interesting question, what does it mean to a School Business Manager?
It is so easy to get swept along as an SBM. So many conflicting demands on your time and energy can mean that the opportunity to stop and take a look around you gets overlooked in a sea of paper, deadlines and door knockers.
And, as SBMs, we often struggle to make time for ourselves. You only have to look at #SBMLunch on Twitter to see how stopping for 10 minutes is a cause for celebration! So to start including ‘mindfulness’ into the day as well seems like a tall order.
It needn’t be.
One day next week, try this. Find an empty office (I wouldn’t be able to use mine – I could count the minutes in the day on one hand when it’s only me in it!) or a quiet space outside (during lesson time preferably – otherwise ‘quiet’ isn’t going to be a thing). You can stand, sit, kneel or lotus, as long as you are relaxed, straight and comfortable.
Then quieten your own mind. I’m not saying “try to empty your head of all thoughts” because, let’s face it, we’re SBMs, that is never going to happen. Instead, as a new thought pops into your head, put it aside to deal with later. If you keep doing this you’ll find that your mind does stop rushing about after a few minutes.
At this point you can either choose to explore the ideas that are usually crowded out or you can just keep putting them aside and use the time for calm, balance and refresh.
Think of it in the same way as a computer. When it starts to get overloaded, what is the first thing our Techs tell us to do? “Have you switched it off and back on again?” A few moments of mindfulness will have the same effect.
An advantage is that, at the same time, we can use our brain downtime to allow those creative thoughts that balance with the practical part of the role and make our contribution more strategic, to grow.
It is said that practicing mindfulness can also help you develop resilience, see things more clearly and help find solutions for those more complex problems.
It is clear that mindfulness is a useful tool in the SBMs arsenal. It does take a bit of practice, and there are a variety of apps to help you get started but used regularly I think it makes for a more considered approach to the day-to-day, as well as those more knotty issues. There is also no doubt that it can enhance our wellbeing and help with the reduction of stress.
Take a few moments, try it and let me know how you get on.
You’ve got this.
If you’d like to ‘Ask Anna’ please email AskAnnaSBM@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.