Do you do this? Someone stops by your desk at work. They tell you a story or ask you a question, but you are not making much eye contact because you are looking at something on your computer or actually trying to type an email while they are talking.
I find I do this a lot, and I always feel like such a rude bitch afterwards. It’s a problem with being present.
Our results-driven society seems to scream, if you aren’t multi-tasking, you aren’t getting enough done.
Well, guess what…turns out human beings are incapable of multi-tasking.
We can do several tasks in rapid succession, or mix automatic tasks with something that isn’t automatic, but we are unable to do two things that need some amount of concentrated effort at the same time.
Don’t believe me? Texting and driving is reportedly equivalent to driving drunk. Let that sink in.
And it’s not just trying to multi-task that keeps us from being fully present.
We are either worrying about the past or fretting over the future, and we are missing the NOW!
How many of you have experienced driving somewhere and your mind was so full of the thoughts in your head, you don’t remember the actual drive to your destination?
Have you had conversations where you spend more time figuring out what you want to respond with then really focusing on what the other person is talking about?
In your walk into work, are you already worrying about what you need to get done that day?
Do you continue stewing over missed opportunities from years ago, or even minutes ago?
I hear you.
I put a few easy techniques below that are designed to bring you back to the present moment. Try mixing these into your day, and see if you feel a little less frazzled. I’m guessing, you will.
Take some deep breaths. If you feel your mind going in too many directions at once, simply stop and take in three deep breaths. Breath in and out through your nose. Breathing through the mouth actually triggers an anxiety response in your body. (Think panting.)
Focus. When you are doing a task, chore or assignment, focus solely on what you are doing and experience it fully.
If you are washing the dishes, notice the warmth of the water or admire the shine on the plate.
At work, get rid of distractions. Turn off your email alert pop-up, close your door or put in some headphones.
Walking or driving? Look around you and really notice what you are passing and seeing.
If you are talking to someone, stop whatever you are doing to focus on what they are saying and actually look at them. (Yeah, Traci, ya bitch!)
My therapist taught me another cool trick where you use your five senses to pull you back to the present.
- Acknowledge five things that you can see.
- Touch four things close to you.
- Listen for three distinct sounds.
- Identify two distinct smells.
- Finally, taste one thing. Even if you don’t have anything in your mouth, you can taste something. Identify what that is.
Do you have any tips for remaining in the here and now? I would love for you to share them in the comments below.
Wow, my walk into work doesn’t seem nearly as annoying now.