The winter holidays and beginning of the new year are a good time for reflection. Many people choose to make a New Year’s resolution, something that they want to do differently or better in the coming year. Losing weight and paying down debt are common choices. I have a few things I want to work on. One goal for the coming year will be to live more purposefully, being more mindful of how I spend my time.
Oftentimes I get most of the way through the workday and look at the clock in surprise, not realizing where the time has gone. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Our lives are so full of demands for our time and attention that it’s easy to lose track of things, to get drawn off our path. I don’t have data to back this up, but I have a hunch that one reason we (well, some of us) get pulled off task so easily is that we need moments to decompress. We need to have short mindless breaks to just breathe and not keep hammering away on the NEXTBIGTHING, so we pull up Facebook or some other thing like a video game or YouTube clip.
This is not to say that I think we need to completely eliminate these distractions from our lives. In fact, I think we need them. My hope is that I can schedule these moments a bit, and try to be purposeful about when I take these breaks. There is good evidence that a similar approach can work for scheduling “worry time” (instead of just worrying intermittently throughout the day) or rewarding ourselves for completing difficult projects (instead of just miserably grinding away). It may also be useful to take little “distraction” breaks between tasks as a bit of a transition.
There are different ways that I think I could implement this new approach: to-do lists, reminders, even asking for more accountability from others. In addition to planning out little breaks during my day, I think I’m going to try to practice mindfulness on a more regular basis. I want to improve my ability to know what I’ve been doing, when, and why. Mindfulness is intentional, conscious attention to the current moment. It’s not being on autopilot. Mindfulness can be helpful for a wide range of things, from chronic pain to depression, to addiction and ADHD. We’ll have more on this in the future, but for now, wish me luck on my resolution.