We often find ourselves lost in thought around things that have happened in the past or concerned about things that might be happening in the future. We can sometimes get stuck in our heads thinking about the challenges that we might have to face over the coming weeks or months, or thinking back and having some regrets around things that may have happened in the not so distant past, but is this actually helpful for the here and now?
How many times have you found yourself in that meeting at work where your mind starts to wander, you start to lose concentration? You start to think about the things that you’ve got going on at home or maybe other things that are sitting on your desk that need your attention.
When I have been in a similar situation, what I have found really useful is asking myself the following questions:
● “Is this actually useful?”
● “Is this helpful right now?”
● “Is this something that I need to be thinking about right now?”
You’ll probably find that the answer to all three of those questions would be “no” because at that moment in time giving your attention to something that has either happened in the past or could possibly happen in the future has no benefit to what’s happening now.
Don’t get me wrong, it is really important to reflect back on things that have happened in the past and to learn from them. Just as important, in fact, as it is to plan for something that has the potential to happen in the future but don’t let this distract you from what is actually happening now.
I think there’s a lot to be said about learning to ‘enjoy the moment’ or ‘live in the moment’ and I think we are particularly bad at this and it is possibly the cause of anxiety and stress. As individuals we find ourselves getting caught up in the what if’s, the but’s and the maybe’s rather than actually just focusing our mind on what we are doing now.
There are things that you can do to stay present but if you’re a natural procrastinator or a daydreamer, this may take some practice. The good news is, there are simple exercises that can help you.
Whether you believe in meditation or not, taking 10 minutes at the beginning of your day to focus your mind can change the outcome of your day entirely. Find a quiet place, close your eyes and just concentrate on your breathing. Listen to your breath, feel your heartbeat and most importantly, empty your mind of any thoughts that can potentially infiltrate your mind and cause chaos by lunchtime. Decide what you want to pay attention to today and what will be productive and bring you the most amount of joy.
This exercise can be performed throughout the day. Whenever you feel yourself drifting away or getting distracted, simply take a moment to clear your mind, relax and breathe, and come back to the task at hand.
Continue to practice this until it simply becomes a natural process for you, and watch your productivity go through the roof. you may also find yourself feeling less stressed, you’ll find that you can concentrate more and that you’re far more motivated. This is because you have emptied your mind of all the problems and worries, and the challenges that you have associated with those things in your past or your future. A much more joyful and productive way of working.