Constant distractions fill our lives. Devices with endless notifications and emails. Instant access to information. Entertainment services in every corner. Advertisements vying for our attention. Rolling news bulletins.
That “quick message” on Slack. That “quick catch up” in the calendar.
With so much going on, people have got to the point where they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be in the moment.
Largely, this stems from modern life and the constant stimulations available making people totally unable to be bored. It’s a big societal issue. And it damages the quality of our relationships.
It means that we miss so much that’s ACTUALLY going on around us.
It’s clear to see this happening all over the world. Neighbourhoods used to be communities. Now most people don’t even acknowledge those living around them.
On any train platform, queue in a shop, or even walking down the street, how many people are actually chatting to each other vs. totally consumed with their phones?
Someone concentrating on what they’re doing has become an incredibly rare sight.
This is only going to get worse, as we see generations that don’t know anything but an always-connected lifestyle becoming more prominent in society.
The wandering mind has probably been highlighted even more as many now need to work from home. If zoning out during a face to face meeting was bad enough, it’s now even easier to answer that Whatsapp or Slack message, or keep working on that urgent deliverable while you’re on your umpteenth Google Hangout/Zoom/Skype call of the day.
That’s before we even touch upon the fact that we’re often just so distracted thinking about everything else we’ve got to do, or something going on elsewhere in our lives.
Truly focusing can feel all-but impossible. It’s little wonder that productivity of modern knowledge-workers is so poor.
So how is this fixed?
Well, it’s not easy. But trying to be mindful of the moment you’re in can go a long way.
Many think that doing nothing must mean being bored. But ‘boredom’ allows us to give ourselves a mental break from the relentless stimulations that fill every second of our attention, and make it all-but-impossible to give ourselves, and our minds, a break.
Mindfulness is “the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment — free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.”
It can have a huge impact on reducing stress, and generally increasing our levels of satisfaction and engagement.
But more than anything, it’s a way to re-engage your focus. And if that means better, more satisfying work, and an overall improved quality of life, mindfulness is a skill that’s well worth investing time in.