Today the digitally-driven professional fights with a conflicting concern for our mindfulness and for a holistic treatment of self and wellbeing. These personal and role tides seem at odds.
With my own daytime desperately digital and yet a mindful reading list (accompanied dutifully by gorgeous candle!) by the bed, it occurred to me that the little tips and tricks I’ve picked up to let mindfulness help me achieve focus, I should capture. Are they obvious? Not sure. See what you think and add some more.
Please read on for some ways to be mindful in your always-on tech life.
Notice how many of these tips are about avoiding distractions and instead focusing on the task. That’s not the end-goal of mindfulness in a digital world, but it’s a happy side-effect.
Here are 15 of my tips:
- Re-invent the to-do list for the day. Change its format regularly so you notice it. Mark off deliberately the ones that are musts and be brutal with that.
- Don’t listen to music on your commute. Don’t open any gadgetry. Watch thoughts turn increasingly towards your work as you travel closer and you might well find it’s your best creative space.
- Give social media a slot. I love it and I could allow Twitter-time to take over. Post with intent and enjoyment in diarised times and feel thereby at liberty to do so!
- Mini-mindful moments are massively calming. They don’t need to be scented candles and crossed legs. I notice the screen-savers. I try to watch the log-in wheel. Why not? They’re quite pretty.
- De-clutter the visuals of your tech. Keep the desktop clear of all but the things you want to look at. Play with the view settings in your apps to create the cleanest and simplest image on your eye.
- Close tabs. Techies tend to like to work with split screens, with many sessions open. If you need to do this, then do that deliberately. But quit it and mark that X when you’re done.
- When you meet people use their names. Using a person’s name when you don’t know them well helps you remember that in business you are generally there to listen to them, not to your “monkey-brain”
- If you’re distracted, go dump the distracting thoughts. Accept it and take a mind-map or some moments out to jot down the thing for later. Get it out of your head. I carry scribble pads, but a colleague uses an amazing mind-mapping tool to create the same on-screen.
- Know which sense you think with. If you like tactile, then vary use of touch-screen, pens and keypads. If you like kinetic, then for example shift your writing work into Prezi to see some movement! The point is that you’re engaging more with what you are doing.
- (Warning: this is a hard one!) Manage difficult parties in meetings with the Buddhist concept of loving kindness. Avoid the instinctive irritation by seeing that work agenda from their perspective: why might they be behaving as they are? What is driving them at work today?
- Feel free of pressure to “do mindful”. I’ve never gotten on with apps that purport to give me mindfulness training or meditative opportunity. I’m better off with my log-on wheel or how my cup of coffee feels. Connecting with self isn’t another KPI target
- Turn off notifications. Obvious. Do it and you won’t miss them. (I should point out that I’m not operating a responsive service-desk role and you might want to apply common sense here.)
- Make sure your job includes something in your month that is this thing called flow. Perhaps for you it’s the perfect query logic, your own blog space, your whizzy web design. Again who says self-connected is at odds with tech-connected?!
- Change to concentrate. Regain focused attention by shifting your media. I do one set of meeting notes using OneNote and the next hand-written in a journal. I’ve not lost ability to touch-type in between, but I’ve lost the ability to stay captivated because my body’s doing the same things
- These tips are written for the person who isn’t the type for neat work-life divides, nor can expect to finish at 5:30 p.m. pronto. That said, if you’ve not yet banned your phone from the bedroom then please, please do.
Some characters find being switching off to be with self is artless, effortless; for others – and especially those ambitious in minds and diaries – we conclude that the daily onslaught of digital and sensory input gives us a serious challenge to thrive.
Mindfuless, we learn, ought to be artless and effortless too.
Yet it’s easy to experience life today in conflict with those ideas.
I say, let’s go for the best of both – effortlessly, acceptingly and lovingly keep present. Best we don’t strive too hard to race each other to it.
About Kate Wadia
Kate’s passion at work is for bridging the gap between technology and people at work, translating for HR professionals the language of HR systems and making meaningful their potential. She believes that success with people technology is through people and that people are the differentiator.
Using simple techniques drawn from HR experience, project management, business psychology and analogy with everyday life, Kate presents and explains how to work well with technology and technology projects in an HR leadership role.
With a background in contrasting private and public sector HR management, Kate developed her thinking in seeking for herself to understand her first HR systems project-work. Currently she leads the Service Delivery for Phase 3 Consulting, offering an independent take on the HR systems market in the UK.
Kate’s guiding principle is that openness offers knowledge-sharing, credibility and trust, best delivered with incorrigible enthusiasm.