13. July 2021 By Magdalena Stern
My first four years at adesso didn’t ‘fly by’
This month marks my four-year anniversary at adesso, and to be honest, it has actually felt like it’s been a lot longer than that. You’d normally expect me to say that the ‘time flew by...’ – many people have this feeling or perception that time is racing by. Of course, I also went through phases where I thought the last few weeks had just flown by, during stressful periods, for instance. But why is that?
This phenomenon concerns perceptual and memory processes and, as you’ve probably already suspected, these deteriorate with age and time also appears to pass faster and faster. Unfortunately, we can’t stop or slow down time, but we can decelerate it. In my blog post, I’d like to tell you about my time at adesso and talk about the psychological aspects of deceleration and mindfulness.
The psychological aspects of deceleration
Did you know that psychology originated from philosophy? One of the founders of psychology, Wilhelm Wundt, was one of the first people to try to explain philosophical questions, that is, questions such as ‘why do we think like this?’, by conducting experiments. That was the foundation of experimental (modern) psychology. Despite this research, behaviour and mental processes can’t be fully substantiated, which is why there is no clear definition of why we experience a distorted perception of time. There are only aspects and connections that give us a better understanding of it.
The perception of time belongs to the field of perceptual psychology, which also includes biological aspects such as those of the sensory organs (such as sight). Among other things, medical or mental health problems can cause us to have a distorted perception. Processes in the brain and memory structures also play a role. You can already see that this is a highly complex construct with a number of different influencing factors.
What does that have to do with my job at adesso? In many jobs, everyday life is often determined by recurring routines and patterns. In my role as Partner Manager at adesso, I also have routine tasks that simply have to be done and are sometimes repetitive. That aside, I can otherwise organise my working time however I want and always dedicate myself to new projects, which always puts my brain and memory to the test. Our brain is programmed to store memories only when it needs to be processed. Breaking out of routines, new experiences and consciously processing content thus lead to a decelerated perception of time in our lives.
What did I do to ‘decelerate’ time from my perspective? – My time at adesso so far
I’ve had quite a few firsts over the last four years. The first time I moved to another larger city – to Dortmund – by myself to start my (then) new job at adesso’s head office. I lived in a shared flat to start off with – also for the first time in my life (I was 28 years old at the time). I took part in two adesso seminar trips and a number of other adesso events, which were a lot of fun. I’ve never heard of a company taking its employees on ‘holiday’ before, which is why these experiences have also burned themselves into my memory. In my first four years, however, there was still a lot going on: I moved again within Dortmund – this time to my own flat, I changed jobs within the company – to LoB Microsoft, I took up painting and started a Master’s degree.
Just do it
I’m a perfectionist by nature, or as my dad would say now – pedantic. This is a good quality in itself, but unfortunately it eats up a tremendous amount of time. If, like me, you’re still studying on the side and still want to have a personal life, then time management is the be-all and end-all. That meant I had to learn not to do everything in ‘my perfect way’, but to ‘just do it’ – and living by this principle has actually really helped. If you don’t constantly strive to do everything perfectly and internalise this idea, and don’t place disproportionately high demands on yourself, then you simply have far more time for other things and can take on different and new tasks. Taking on new tasks ultimately broadens your horizons, gives you new responsibilities and results in you not only decelerating your work life, but your personal life, too.
After my A levels, I was employed at a series of IT companies, which wasn’t really the plan, but it somehow turned out that way. I’m now really glad it did turn out that way as I’ve realised that challenges in my working life are important to me so I can continue to grow. IT is the best place for this, because no other industry is home to so many innovations, developments and opportunities – you will never get bored working in IT.
Speaking of being a woman in IT – adesso does a lot to make women feel comfortable in their jobs. With the ‘She for IT’ initiative, adesso has set itself the goal of strengthen-ing and promoting women in the IT industry.Just a few of things the initiative offers includes a female talent programme, training courses, events, networking opportunities such as IT theme evenings with female speakers and practice-oriented lectures on various topics as part of the adesso university cooperation. Check out our website if you’d like to find out more about She for IT.
Mindfulness – what is it and why is it important?
The term mindfulness is seeing a resurgence at the moment due to the pandemic, as mindfulness is supposed to lead to a reduction in stress and thus to an improved work-life balance. We’re in a state of flux at the moment – the lines between our professional and personal lives are becoming increasingly blurred, leading to more stress. As it happens, adesso also has the right solution for this problem. The company’s internal campaign, called adesso MIND, gives employees the tools they need to cope with stress. On top of that, every employee has the opportunity to take part in a variety of training courses in which they become familiar with methods, solutions and training to better deal with complexity. By the way, you can find out here what further training opportunities adesso has to offer by clicking here.
Mindfulness defined in one sentence:
Consciously directing attention to the present moment and accepting its immutability, without judgement or criticism, with a certain objective distance, in order to better process and judge what has happened.
Although this definition is accurate, it’s difficult to understand and implement. Aren’t we living in the moment? Aren’t we paying attention to what we’re doing? The answer in most cases is ‘no’. We are constantly distracted by external influences without being aware of it. This prevents us from fully concentrating on the task at hand. More importantly, this leaves us unable to perceive, appreciate and enjoy our life in this one moment – right here and now – in general. Working from home can amplify this distraction even more – for instance because of family, children or other things.
What you can do to be more mindful
Focus and concentrate on the one task at hand without distractions – that means no more multi-tasking. Just be aware of what you’re doing, even when you’re doing ‘simple’ things such as driving or going up the stairs.
Avoid sensory overload. For instance, don’t listen to music while you’re out on your daily walk. We’re already often unable to absorb aesthetic experiences (the sight of nature, appreciate art) because of stress. So with that in mind, consciously explore your surroundings while you’re out on your walk and let them have an effect on you. At home, it’d be good not to have the TV or radio on all the time in the background. People often can’t stand silence because their thoughts then become ‘too loud’. But that is part of the process of dealing with experiences, so try to let it happen.
In addition, new studies are currently looking at the fact that media multi-tasking (mobile phone and television) impairs attention and memory. That means it’s important to engage consciously with your own level of attention. That leads to my next tip: put your phone in your pocket or your bag and keep it there when you’re out with friends or even simply just watching a film.
When it comes to making decisions at work, don’t leave them to the ‘usual’ automatic mechanisms, but think critically about each decision. And watch it out, it might sound like this will reduce your productivity and lead to a higher workload, but in the long run you will create more work in the same period of time because you will have rethought and optimised your processes.
Let’s now move on to something that’s easier said than done: don’t get upset about things that can’t be changed anyway. Why get worked up for the sake of it? That just wastes precious energy. However, this requires you to increase your level of self-awareness and you have to be willing to put the work in on yourself.
And finally, something I mentioned at the beginning: try new things! Why not take up a new hobby, for instance? Do something you’ve always wanted to do. Trying a new dish or turning left instead of right on your walk is also enough. It’s about breaking out of routines and making you feel that you are experiencing more in your own life.
The benefits of mindfulness:
- By focusing on the important things in life (as well as at work), you work more effectively and generally improve your ability to concentrate for longer.
- Fostering your own emotional intelligence, that is, strengthening your ability to better empathise with other people, leads to acting in a problem-solving manner.
- Acknowledging and appreciating fellow human beings and work colleagues by being more mindful of how you perceive them leads to greater acceptance and a better environment of well-being.
- Discovering previously hidden potential leads to you broadening your own horizons (and if you’re a manager, those of your employees).
- Managing stress and being more aware of activities and mechanisms that promote health have a positive impact on yourself and the company.
- Improving emotional self-regulation and accepting things that are immutable lead to you decelerating your personal and professional lives.
Speaking of daring to do something new: I’ve now written a blog post for the first time. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe got something out of it.
By the way, you will find more exciting topics from the adesso world in our latest blog posts.