Does the flashing red light, the vibration or the ping distract you from your task at hand? Or at a team meeting do you cradle your smartphone, just below desk level, so you can scan it surreptitiously? Do you read emails in bed just before you try to go to sleep?
Whilst instant communication and multiple applications used judiciously can assist us to be more productive, many of us have developed dumb habits. We become addicted to the continuous flow of information and being “connected” yet what we may actually be doing is disconnecting ourselves from our colleagues,their non-verbal cues and the mood of the room.
At the beginning of many of my workshops or in some coaching meetings I make a point of taking the participant through a centering or breathing practice.
This may be as simple as inhaling through your nose to the count of 4, holding your breath to the count of 7 and exhaling through your mouth to the count of 8 or it can be a longer guided visualisation or meditation.
The purpose of the exercise is to help the participant become fully present, to let go of the past meeting or the anticipation of the next meeting. By being focused you will build better rapport with your colleagues, you’ll recognise errors or unclear communication more quickly and you will save time.
My clients report that setting boundaries on when they use their smartphone also helps with their family relationships: their spouses feel respected and valued and they engage more with their kids.
To read more about how the brain makes sense of multiple and competing stimuli and how to function more effectively see The Neuroscience of the Brain, David Rock