In today’s digital world, we are constantly stimulated. But finding the time to concentrate on the here and now is important to avoid digital burnout says Petris Lapis.
Mindfulness is all the rage in organisations these days. It seems everybody is doing it. From major corporations to individuals, to defence forces, to Universities to weekend retreats. There are mindful leadership programs, mindfulness-based stress programs and mindfulness programs for managing depression.
What is mindfulness? In its simplest form, mindfulness means awareness. It is paying attention and attending to the present moment without judgement. You can use it to help you focus, improve productivity, manage stress and mental health and improve emotional intelligence and communication skills. Mindfulness can help you remain calm and focused when everything around you becomes chaotic.
How to practice mindfulness in the digital age
Mindfulness training can be done any time you have a few spare moments. You close your eyes, come back into the present moment and focus on your breath. You can start your working day with ten minutes of mindfulness while your laptop boots up. Sit quietly and bring yourself into the present moment. Focus on your breath and leave behind all the things that happened at home in the morning. Bring your attention to your breath and the moment you are in. When you have spent a couple of minutes doing this, turn your mind and your attention to your day.
Here are seven other ways you can incorporate the power of mindful pauses into your working day:
- When your phone rings: Take three deep breaths to centre yourself, come into the moment and turn your focus to the phone call before picking up the phone. This enables you to turn your attention from what you were doing to the person who is on the other end of the phone.
- Before checking email: We have an almost manic urge to check email as soon as an alert sounds or we want a mental break from what we are doing. Instead of giving in to these impulsive urges, try waiting a few breaths before checking your email.
- When you’re checking social media: In the same way, we yearn to check email to see if there is anything exciting happening, we also have the urge to check our social media. Coming into the moment helps us be aware of our social media urges, the feelings we have as we read posts and to control the need to distract ourselves by checking.
- Leave your mobile phone behind or turn it off: This is a challenge for most people. We live in a world where we feel compelled to check it while we are driving or watching the movies. Notice any addictive habits you have and try replacing them with healthier ones. Turn it off at night and see if it gives you a better night’s sleep. Put it in your bag or in a drawer at work, rather than leave it on your desktop. Notice how you feel when you don’t have it with you. Be aware of the experience without any judgment, it is what it is.
- When you’re working on the computer: Notice what happens to your energy levels while you are working at your computer. Mindfulness will bring you back into awareness of when your body is tired, how you are sitting in your chair and what you habitually do when your energy is low.
- When you’re waiting: Our days seem to be filled with moments of waiting. We wait for the bus, we wait in the traffic, we wait for the printer, we wait for someone to answer the phone. Waiting and the patience it requires are a part of our lives. How do you feel when you have to wait? Do you become agitated? Does it help? Is there a better way to fill the time you are waiting? Would it be possible for you to take three deep breaths and allow yourself to relax without doing anything and without feeling negative while you are waiting?
Mindfulness brings some of our digital behaviours into awareness. Once we are aware of our behaviours we can make more conscious choices about how we are spending our time and energy during the working day.
Petris Lapis has worked in accounting, law, academia, banking, business and training. She has consulted for government and industry and published several books and hundreds of papers. She has studied commerce, law, coaching, NLP and hypnosis. www.petrislapis.com