Disconnect To Reconnect: The Importance Of Being Present
Clodagh O'Mahony·October 27, 2021
Raise your hand if you’ve ever reached for your phone and instinctively refreshed your work email at 9 o’clock at night or met up with friends and instead of being present you spent more time checking Instagram? We’ve all been there.
In today’s world, screen time has become a huge consumption of our daily lives. We flick on the TV at the end of a busy working day, scroll social media when we’re at a loose end, and rely on the internet for everything from booking train tickets to diagnosing a headache.
However technology can be a great tool. It allows us to keep in touch with the people we love the most and everything we’ve ever wanted to know is right at our fingertips, but without proper boundaries, it can also pull our focus away from the here and now. It can distract you from your goals, create a barrier between you and your loved ones, and crucially, consume our most important resource: time.
Here’s the really ironic part: in a world of constant connectivity, many of us have never felt so disconnected from ourselves. Between social media notifications, unread emails, and buzzing WhatsApp group chats, we rarely have a moment to just be.
But here’s the good news: you always have a choice. It’s up to you and you alone to make the decision to reconnect with what matters and when you do, it’s only a matter of time until you feel the difference.
Feeling inspired to reconnect and be present? We’re so happy to hear it. Here’s how to get started…
How To Reconnect To The Real World
Track your time
Ever heard the phrase ‘what gets measured, gets managed?’. Well, it applies here too, because you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re starting from. That means taking a long, honest look at your screen time habits and actively deciding where you want to put your focus instead.
Here’s the important bit: this isn’t about shaming yourself into change or feeling guilty for where you’re currently at; it’s about sussing out where there is room for improvement and gradually shifting your habits so you can make a positive change.
All you have to do is make a note of how long you’re spending online each day or use a screen time tracker to do the hard work for you (most smartphones have them.)
Next, set a goal. Do you want to reduce your screen time by 30 minutes a day, an hour, or even two? This is your chance to get clear – you can use The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal to plan out your screen time goals and start putting that extra time to good use instead.
Discover the power of being bored
When was the last time you were bored? Like, really don’t-know-what-to-do-with-myself bored? For most people, it’s been a while. In our world of unrelenting tasks and competing commitments, it can be tricky to find a second to just breathe and often when we do get a moment to relax we instinctively reach for our phones or grab the TV remote. Our brains rarely have a second to switch off.
Boredom is often seen as a bad thing, but in small doses, it actually has a wealth of life-changing benefits. According to scientific research, being bored can prompt you to engage in more meaningful behaviours. It can also spark creativity and aid problem-solving too.
So, start letting your mind wander. Turn the TV off in the evenings, pop your phone in a drawer, and see how it feels to sit and do absolutely nothing. You might be surprised to discover it actually feels pretty great to read a book, go for a walk- all without any technology.
Invest your time wisely
Not all screen time is created equal, and sometimes, tech can be used as a tool for mindset elevation. Used wisely, it can also be time to switch off and relax from life’s daily stresses.
So, rather than swearing off screen time, start thinking about how you could use that time wisely. Our advice? Click on to The Head Plan App for daily inspiration or create a Pinterest board of quotes that motivate you to give your all. Even cuddling up to watch a comforting childhood movie on a low day counts. It’s about finding activities that lift you up.
Having trouble deciding how best to invest your time? The advice of leadership coach John C Maxwell states that “Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.”
Basically? Align with your priorities – whether they’re connecting with the people you love most, making progress on your goals or investing in your self-care – you can’t go wrong with that.
Practice the art of being present
What does it actually mean to be present? To put it simply, being present means being actively engaged in your life, being aware of the sights, smells, and sounds that surround you and appreciating the present moment in all its glory.
Presence can be taking a deep breath and becoming aware of the sensations in your body as the air makes its way into your lungs, listening intently to your friend while they’re talking to you, or concentrating on a fulfilling task with your undivided attention.
We challenge you to find even a few moments in your day to be present. You could ask yourself the question ‘Am I present?’ (or use The Head Plan Mirror Markers to write on your bathroom mirror as a reminder) When you do this, you automatically connect to the present moment and become aware not just of your body, but of your surroundings too.
Need another way? If in doubt, there are a few activities that are almost guaranteed to help you reconnect with the present moment: think walks in nature, meditation, and journaling.
Be gentle with yourself
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and habits often take a little while to break (it’s the very reason they’re called habits, after all.)
So, if in the coming weeks you find yourself scrolling on your phone for longer than you intended, binging Netflix, or routinely checking your email outside of office hours, don’t give yourself a hard time. Document the progress you have made, and just keep going. You’ve got this.
When a piece of tech isn’t working our first instinct is often to switch it off and back on again. As humans, we need time to unplug in order to function at our highest level too.
So, consider this a sign to mute your noisy WhatsApp groups when you need to, log off all your social media platforms on the regular, and close that Gmail app after hours because you owe it to yourself to be free from distractions.
As an unattributed quote puts it, “sometimes you have to disconnect from the world to reconnect with what really matters”.