Achieving Presentness and Focus in the Digital Age

BY MIA ARCINIEGAS / STAFF WRITER

Whenever Tik Tok reminds me that we are indeed living on a floating rock in the middle of space, my mind can’t help but spiral. This happens at least once a week, and I am constantly full of existential dread (don’t fret, this piece is meant to be encouraging, not nihilistic).

That being said, how can we cope with so much new and readily available information seeping through our devices, yet still manage to remain focused on the tasks right in front of us? In my case, I am easily distracted by pretty much anything, and achieving a state of focus and presentness is not simple. I consider my phone a great distraction, and social media does not help either. Whenever I am trying to accomplish a task, I keep thinking about picking up my phone and cycling through my social media accounts as a distraction. Only, I look at this distraction as more than just a disruption of my workflow, but as an escape from the present.

By actively seeking media as a distraction, one is actively rejecting the present and the task at hand. Additionally, the information that appears in our algorithm often presents content far removed from our lives. This consumption of information foreign to one’s intended purpose at the moment subconsciously communicates that the present is not important. That being said, even if a particular present reality or task is not ideal, what I have learned to do is to actively remind myself why I’m doing said task. Also, imbuing every small component of your task with purpose helps reorient the narrative of the present. By recalling the necessity of the present moment as foundational in achieving a bigger goal or feeling, each small accomplishment becomes more fruitful.

When I am working on something particularly monotonous, I ask someone I trust to hold onto my phone and not give it back until a said amount of time elapses. By removing distractions, silencing notifications, and giving one’s mind a chance to focus on one thing, the practice of mindfulness in the present becomes easier each time. This practice can be extended to various moments, even ones where you are relaxing. I have even started implementing days where I do not permit myself to open social media for most, if not all, of that one day. This has helped me establish a sense of presentness and reduce the mental “noise” caused by too much consumption of transient digital information.

Hopefully, these somewhat scattered observations can encourage more consideration of the present, whatever that may look like for you.

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