It’s the parents sitting at the playground glued to their phones as their kids get the wiggles out. It’s the couple at date night photographing their food for Instagram followed shortly by a few Facebook selfies. It’s every single professional at a meeting, mobile phone and laptop sitting in front of them.
We are in an era of being connected all the time. Our phones are with us 24/7, always connected to Google Messenger, Slack or another social chat function. Answer honestly: Do you keep your phone on your nightstand while you’re asleep? Is it the last thing you check before bed and the first thing you check after you wake up?
Yeah, I’m guilty, too.
Don’t get me wrong; technology can be a wonderful thing. Being connected is great for staying on top of news, work and the latest pictures of your nephew, but it also takes you away from the actual people that are physically present in your life. And trust me, they crave your undivided attention more than you know.
Being present is fully focusing on your significant other while they share tales of their day. It’s enjoying extra snuggles with your child. It’s saying hello to a co-worker and asking about her family before checking email in the morning.
And it’s easier said than done.
I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to be more present. At work I believe it leads to better management and culture. At home I believe it leads to stronger relationships and better understanding. In life I believe it helps us find balance, reduce stress and be more intentional. Ditching the distractions can also help save time!
How can you be more present in your life? Here are some simple steps I’ve found to be helpful:
It’s not all or nothing. To strike a balance, make a few rules. At home, no technology at the dinner table or while playing outside. Maybe even try an old-fashioned alarm and leave the phones downstairs at night. At work, turn off technology when possible during one-on-one meetings and take an actual lunch break to chat with co-workers rather than checking your Facebook feed.
Look ’em in the eyes
Even with rules, distractions are constant in today’s busy world. One simple way to help remedy this and stay focused is to look people in the eyes. Whether it’s during a meeting with your boss or during your bedtime routine with your child, eye contact shows you’re present, you’re listening and that what is being said matters.
Listen to understand
Try this little exercise: Rather than listening in order to respond with your 2 cents, try listening to deeply understand what the person is saying. Pay attention to facial expressions along with verbal cues. Ask probing questions to learn more. You’ll connect better with people and gain their trust by truly listening.
That last load of laundry can wait so you can read a few extra books to your kid. Those emails don’t need to go out today so you have time to help a frazzled co-worker. You can say no to the invitation to an online party for candles, leggings or whatnot so you have more time with the people who matter. And if all else fails, two words: airplane mode.
What methods do you use to be more present? I’d love to add to my list so I can keep my momentum strong.