I recall going home from primary school one day and telling my dad (at least I think it was my dad, it might have been my mum I told) how when I was listening to the headteacher tell a story it was like I knew what she was going to say before she said it.
“That’s just because you were listening properly”, said dad.
(Hey Mum, if this was you and you’re not getting the credit for this eye-opening fact, then, spoiler, it seems I ignored it anyway).
How often do you hear the words “I told you that the other week/day/minute”?
I confess I hear it too often because one aspect of my life I need to focus on is being more mindful. I just don’t pay attention.
It isn’t just my long-suffering husband that I don’t pay attention to, I sometimes also switch off during meetings, watching the TV, and when in a conversation with someone. (I know, I’m bad aren’t I?)
So all those years ago I knew what it was to listen properly, but still, I don’t.
I don’t even think I can blame technology, because I’m pretty sure I did this before mobile phones arrived on the scene, never mind smartphones.
On the other hand, access to more information does make for a busier mind and greater distractions. No more waiting for the post to arrive, or waiting for someone to get off the phone. Instant messaging and on-line enquiry make everything seem like it should be done now.
I suppose what I really need to do is focus on removing those distractions that make me lose focus, particularly from a work perspective.
Years ago, I turned off email alerts – you know, the ones that pop up on the screen telling you who has emailed along with a loud chime and a cursor change.
Now though, Microsoft Teams and Skype are popping up every few minutes. Even do not disturb doesn’t stop some people.
Technology Free Days
I’ve heard a lot of people turning to technology-free days to cut out the clamour and also to help be present with family. Would this help? Would I become more mindful and attentive? Or would I simply turn to reading?
I think I can work out how to stay focused at work, but what about home? I think it needs to be down to my resolve. I’m not so bothered about the TV – it’s just a pastime to wind down in the evenings.
But I do want to listen to my husband. Not paying attention seems like I don’t care and, of course, I very much do.
Tell me, where do you find it most difficult to pay attention. Is this something you’ve struggled with? What did you do or are you doing?
Let us know in the comments below – I can’t be the only one, can I?
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Until next time, remember, if the excess baggage is weighing you down, you can always leave it in lost luggage.
PS. Have you taken part in the poll yet?