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Present & Connected: Creating Quality Time in a Distracted World

by | Jan 25, 2024 | News | 0 comments

Being present means fully engaging with and experiencing the current moment without being distracted by thoughts about the past or future. 

Easier said than done in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, where being present often requires a conscious effort as many things vie for our attention.

In fact, as I sit here, attempting to focus on writing this blog post, the following distractions occurred in the span of two minutes: 

  • The buzzer on my washing machine alerted me that I needed to change the loads,
  • Alexa announced an inclement weather alert for my area,
  • A calendar notification popped up, reminding me that I have three back-to-back events that begin in two hours,
  • My phone buzzed with an email about an upcoming volunteer event at which I agreed to help, 
  • The dog barked to let me know he needed me to get off my computer and let him out.

The result of these distractions? 

My brain immediately began pinging between past, present and future. 

“Don’t forget the laundry; you always forget, and it needs to be done… Did the kids dress properly for the rain that is coming… where did I put the umbrellas… how are we going to squeeze dinner in between sports practices… did I remember to tell my husband he needs to pick kid 2 up from practice because I have a meeting tonight… why did I volunteer for that event next week, I don’t have time… wow I really need to vacuum up that dog hair… am I spending enough time training the dog, I really should be better about that…Don’t forget tomorrow’s work deadline. Next month, I need to be better at planning my time so I’m not always rushing at the last minute… Did I remember to check kid 1’s homework last night…”

Did you find yourself nodding your head in recognition of this pattern?

Be Here Now

Staying in the present moment is difficult. It is normal for our brains to remember the past and think about the future–we actually need those mechanisms for survival. But constant distraction and rumination can be harmful to our well-being.

This inability to be present can cause strained relationships with family and friends, lower our productivity and performance (at work and home), and increase our overall stress and anxiety. 

That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to hit pause on the relentless go, go, go of our brains and society and develop skills that help us live in the here and now. 

The Pull of Technology

In our increasingly connected world, the constant pull of technology often challenges our ability to stay present in the moment.

At work, we attempt to multitask our way through the day, juggling meetings, deadlines, and myriad other tasks that pull our focus. At home, we may feel the need to respond to work emails after hours or the draw of mindlessly scrolling social media after a long day. We are often tempted to read text messages during a family dinner or obsessively photograph activities with friends. It all begins to sap our well-being and connection. 

To help you navigate this, here are four practical strategies that can help you be more present and mindful amidst the distractions of technology.

  1. Mindful Breathing: Take a few moments to practice mindful breathing throughout the day. Focus on your breath, inhaling and exhaling slowly. This simple practice can help bring your attention back to the present moment.
  2. Digital Detox: Set specific times during the day or week for a digital detox. Turn off notifications, put away your devices, and engage in activities that don’t involve screens. This break can help you reconnect with the real world.
  3. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries for technology use. Define specific times when you’ll be fully present with others or engaged in non-digital activities. Communicate these boundaries to friends, family, and colleagues.
  4. Single-Tasking: Instead of multitasking, focus on one task at a time. We know it is easier said than done, but single-tasking can improve your concentration and allow you to be fully present in whatever you’re doing. Turn off unnecessary apps or browser tabs to minimize distractions. (One of our favorite tools to help with single tasking is the Pomodoro Technique).

Time for Connection

One of the greatest human needs is to connect with others. But sometimes, our fast-paced life gets in the way of those connections. Busy schedules and technology distractions can erode the quality of our connections with friends and family members.

Being distracted can harm relationships and hinder the opportunity for shared experiences and genuine connection. 

Here are a few ways to be fully present and strengthen bonds with the people who matter most to you:

  1. Put Away Devices: When spending time with loved ones, put away electronic devices to minimize distractions. Create device-free zones or times during family activities to foster focused interactions.
  2. Active Listening: Practice active listening by giving your full attention to the person speaking. Avoid interrupting and show genuine interest in their thoughts and feelings.
  3. Mindful Presence: When with friends and family, focus on the present moment. Avoid being preoccupied with thoughts about the past or future, and fully engage in the current experience.
  4. Protect Your Time: Set clear boundaries to protect family/friend time from external distractions. Communicate the importance of uninterrupted moments and create an environment that allows everyone to be fully present.

By incorporating these practices into your interactions, you can enhance the quality of your relationships and create more meaningful connections with friends and family.

Remember, being present requires conscious effort, but incorporating these practices into your daily routine can help you cultivate a greater sense of mindfulness in a world that provides ample opportunities for distraction. 

Want more strategies for mindful connection? Check out our Guide for Connecting to Self and Others

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