Being present is hard. Really hard. In a day and age where we have a million different things competing for our attention, it can be incredibly difficult to stay in the moment.
One of the biggest challenges to staying in the moment? Technology. But this isn’t a rant against technology. Not at all. Instead, it’s a call to be more aware of the unconscious ways technology steals our attention, making small tweaks to regain our power.
So read on for three ridiculously simple technology hacks for mindfulness to start implementing today. (PS: These hacks are so simple, even my non-techy self can manage them!)
1. Turn off notifications.
Red bubbles, banners, and drop down notifications are some of the sneakiest culprits for taking you out of the moment. These notifications are designed to grab your attention, pulling you away from whatever you’re doing. Think of notifications as a person standing ten feet away, with a giant red poster board, screaming, “Hey hey, look over here! Yes you, lookie, over here!” No matter how laser focused you are, it is impossible not to be distracted by a screaming, waving person. The human brain isn’t built for that.
Notifications steal your attention away in an instant. Even if you think you can refocus pretty quickly, your attention is still pulled away for a second, taking you out of what you’re doing and into whatever the notification has deemed important.
Don’t let an electronic device dictate what you do and when you do it. If you want to check Instagram, check it because you want to check Instagram, not because you got a notification saying, “Something happened.” Take charge and decide what you’re going to check and when you’re going to check it. Disable notifications whenever possible. You won’t miss them.
2. Close your email.
You know that moment when you’re in the zone, being productive, typing away, when all of a sudden, you hear a “ding,” followed by a quick preview of an incoming email? Your eyes can’t help but scan the subject line of the email, taking you out of what you were doing and into the incoming email.
These tiny transitions are giant energy suckers. They steal your energy as your brain attempts to multitask, shift its attention, and then refocus. (Read more about the cost of transitions here.)
Just because you can respond to email in any given moment doesn’t mean you should. Tackle your email in chunks, devoting blocks of time to email. Close your email during the other parts of the day. Devote your full attention to other tasks. This often goes against our culture of being available 24/7, but being mindful and living with intention requires a little bit of extra work.
3. Put your phone out of sight.
Did you know that the average American checks their phone 46 times a day? 46 times a day! Research is clear; cell phones are designed to be addicting. So leaving your phone within sight when you’re trying to focus on something else is just silly. It’s like leaving a piece of candy in front of a toddler and expecting them not to reach for it. Not gonna happen!
If you decide to watch TV, don’t just put your phone down. Put it away. Out of sight or in another room. If you’re going out to a restaurant, put your phone in your purse or leave it in the car. If you’re at work, don’t leave your phone on the edge of your desk. Put away and out of sight.
Your brain is built like every other human brain. It’s designed to respond to stimuli and reinforcement. So take away the stimulus and eliminate the reinforcement that your phone gives. It may feel strange at first, but you’ll grow to appreciate being fully present in the moment.
Focusing your attention on what you’re doing, and nothing else, is one of the most important things you can do for your mental and emotional health. And it’s not rocket science! Use one of these simple technology hacks for mindfulness and notice the difference it makes.