Mindfulness and the Computer

By Amie Mignatti

I don’t know about you, but my life moves very quickly. I don’t have the luxury of having hours of uninterrupted time to get things done, so my list gets checked off in small increments throughout my day. I’m trying to streamline the process in order to make things easier and smoother for myself, but my brain doesn’t always work that way, nor does life.

Have you ever said to yourself, or to your partner or child, “I’m just going to send a real quick email,” and then you find yourself 20 minutes later with a child tugging on your leg, feeling neglected and/or hungry (they always seem to be hungry!). Meanwhile, you’ve moved on to the online shopping you wanted to get done two days ago but didn’t have the time to do, and so while all was quiet, you dove in? My feeling is that this is a common scenario for moms with limited time to spend online and a whole lot of other responsibilities.

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I’m not a computer person, but I am very grateful for what they have brought into my life. I grew up without the internet (I think we’re called “digital immigrants”) and so I know how time-consuming and annoying some things could be, like having to wait at home for that important phone call or for something to get delivered, having to call a million people in order to find what you are looking for, or actually going to the mall for something (wow … how times have changed).

My personal relationship with computers is one of love/hate. I love what they do for me, but I hate what we’ve become as a society because of them. I am unhappy with myself when I realize that I have wasted my precious time surfing around on social media (although I did learn something, felt more in the “know,” and connected with old friends), because I still have a pile of ironing that needs to be done, dinner that needs to be prepped, a website that needs desperate attention, and the list goes on and on and on.

 

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I constantly ask myself how to combat this. How to keep myself in check while online, how to observe for myself the online limits that I set for my 11-year-old stepdaughter (sometimes I think I’m WhatsApping more than she is), and how to be mindful of where my time goes. This has become a constant battle for me and I am sure I am not alone. I want to have more time to do the things I love and the things I need to do (I’ll put ironing in the need to do category here), and I don’t want to be swept away as often by the ease of the internet.

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What I’ve done is to make myself a list. I work very well with lists- I love to check them off and feel a sense of accomplishment from doing so. I make a list of the people I need to email, the things I need to research, the computer “work” I need to do (like monthly taxes, household spreadsheets and the like), the deadlines I have to get certain things done for work and for home (this category is like booking a vacation, any sort of child related lesson, etc.).

From there, I see how much time I have during the day. Sometimes it’s only an hour or even less and so I prioritize- when I can fit in computer time in my day? I figure it out and hold myself to that time, rather than doing computer work between things (like doing the laundry and then sending a “quick” email while you remembered something). I have a notebook in my purse and at my desk so that when something important does come up, rather than doing it right then, I write it down and come back to it later. Things can wait- we tell ourselves they can’t, but in reality, they can. Honoring this principle will change a lot of things for you.

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I also try to avoid turning on the computer first thing in the morning (this is the kiss of death), because it is so easy to get swept away in everything that has come in overnight, and those morning hours should be for setting intentions, enjoying the quiet moments and the peace before the day begins- not slamming yourself head first into it.

Once you can prioritize your day, and find a time that is absolutely quiet for you to do some focused work on the computer, where you can move from one thing to the next with clarity and competence. A place where you aren’t doing five things at once, but one after the other, until either the time is up or you are finished. If you have extra time after your tasks are completed for the day, then have a go on social media or reading articles, or whatever it is that strikes your fancy. Perhaps you have no time left over and hadn’t finished what you set out to do. No worries, there is always tomorrow or perhaps the evening, when it is quiet and you can work.

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I would also add a word of caution for those that work in the evening: do so very mindfully. Too much computer time at night can disturb your sleep patterns, so try to minimize your time at night, and use it for reading, yoga, connected time with your partner, or whatever it is that you need to do to come down from the day. Computers and the information involved tend to speed us up, going against our natural rhythms, and night is a time where we should slow down.

Try working like this for a few weeks and see if you feel more centered rather than pulled in many directions (that will come anyway). Good Luck!

 

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Amie Mignatti is a free-spirited woman with her feet on the earth and her heart in the stars. After traveling the world for many years, she landed in Munich where she wears many different hats: yoga teacher, nature coach, outdoor educator for children, English teacher. She also runs personal development courses for women in nature. She and her family are happiest outdoors with friends and campfires.
Check out her blog here.

 

 

 

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