How has the pandemic affected your pace at work?
Even the best of the best have experienced challenges in finding their new pace at work. Focus and concentration have been more of a challenge for leaders, managers, and employees. And I’m not surprised: our sense of time has been distorted. Two factors explain this phenomenon:
- Feeling stuck in a holding pattern
- Loss of flow
Feeling stuck is not unusual for those who remain at home, or have yet to return to their previous work environment. You see, when we are unable to structure or manipulate our experience of time—when our temporal agency is deprived—we feel stuck in the present.
Dr. Felix Ringel, an anthropologist of time at Durham University in England refers to this as enforced presentism, a term first defined by fellow anthropologist Jane Guyer. And for those who do not know when (or if) they can return to work, enforced presentism continues to alter their perception of time.
Fear also alters our perception of time. According to Dr. Sylvie Droit-Volet, PsyD, who has conducted extensive research on emotions and time, threatening stimuli can distort our internal sense of the passage of time. In Subjective Time(The MIT Press 2014), Droit-Volet points to two significant contributors that distort our internal clock:
- Changes in internal states in response to the effects of drugs or external stimuli (such as a crisis)
- Attentional processes: when we pay less attention to time, we experience a temporal shortening effect
What can we do to reset our internal clock? How can we find a new pace at work?
In the work I do coaching executives, we implement a strategy for self-management under situations of great pressure. We focus on four psychological skills to manage enforced presentism and loss of flow. I’ll dive into this in my next post. In the meantime, I invite you to reflect on how the pandemic has affected your pace at work, as well as your focus and concentration.