If you’re looking to use technology in a masterful way, mindfulness could be the key.
While many of us equate the term with meditation, mindfulness in this context means a state of being in which we pay attention to the present: observing and absorbing, while making no attempt to reinterpret or recontextualise.
Being mindful in your approach to work and in your approach to using technology can have a positive impact on your productivity and effectiveness, as well as your stress levels.
Stress isn’t just a major blocker for accomplishment, it’s also a serious threat to your health and wellbeing. It’s natural to have some stress in our lives, but tech shouldn’t add to it – it should alleviate it.
However, technology can often heighten our stress levels. For example, an influx of inbound emails might make you feel a sense of panic, and your response might be to switch tasks and focus on your inbox.
Our first impulses are very often the opposite of what we really should be doing. By dropping the task you’re working on to deal with your inbox, you’re making headway with one task and getting behind on another. (Not to mention that it takes your brain time to adjust to a new task and get back into flow.) In many cases this is a recipe for heightened anxiety, hours of wasted effort, and a false feeling of accomplishment.
Being mindful conditions you to pause and think:
- Am I really perceiving this situation with clarity?
- Am I perpetuating a negative state of mind?
- Does this deserve my attention?
This last question comes from Howard Rheingold, who wrote it on a Post-it note and stuck on his computer screen as a constant reminder to remain mindful throughout the day. You might find it useful to adopt a similar approach yourself in whatever way seems most effective for you.
Wrote “does this deserve my attention” on post-it, affixed to corner of screen. Every once in a while I notice the note, ask myself the ?
— Howard Rheingold (@hrheingold) May 24, 2013
By squandering your attention on ‘undeserving’ demands or false priorities, you are gradually reducing your pool of attentiveness throughout the day…and we really do mean that your attention span is finite.
Like any other valuable resource, there is only so much to go around in a 24-hour period. Make sure to be absolutely certain your attention couldn’t be directed more effectively elsewhere.
So how can we be more mindful day-to-day?
1. Be in the moment
Try to focus completely on whatever task you’re working on at that time for the duration, rather than splitting your attention by letting your brain move on to the next thing.
2. It’s OK for your mind to wander
It’s completely natural for your mind to wander when you first start to practice mindfulness. Don’t punish yourself for it, but do try to gently bring your attention back to the task at hand when your notice it.
3. Plan your approach
If a large project is looming over you and causing anxiety, cast a logical eye across its components. Break it down into manageable tasks and set a realistic timeframe for executing your plan.
4. Think about your mood
Continually refocus your attention back onto your own mood, and if you detect an issue, try changing your methods to prevent stress and inertia before they have a chance to take hold.
5. Acknowledge that your energy is limited
Your brain can use as much as 20% of your body’s energy, so make sure you’re spending that energy in the best possible way. Don’t waste it on false-priorities.
6. Choose a prompt
To help foster a well-rooted habit of mindfulness, try and create a prompt to trigger these behaviours within yourself. This could involve setting a timer on your device for regularly checking in with yourself, or choosing a pre-determined time each day to isolate yourself from distractions.
7. Be critical
Always be ready to make changes when they are needed. If you’re honest with yourself and value your time and attention as much as you should, you’ll be a fully mindful mobile master before you know it.
Where are some good locations to practice mindfulness? Some common places are when standing in line; shortly before a meeting with colleagues; and the brief period of time between composing an email and pressing send (that one is especially useful!)
You may even find it useful to extend your mindful behaviour into your home life, perhaps when washing the dishes, or while brushing your teeth.
If you’d like to learn more on the subject of mindfulness, then why not download our “Mobile Mastery” ebook here, and let us know in the comments if you have any feedback.
This article is part of Nokia’s Smarter Everyday programme, which aims to inspire you with the latest ideas on productivity, collaboration and technology adoption.