6 ways to reconnect with yourself

What's important in your life?

There’s an epidemic sweeping through our society that’s driving us to do more than ever, but most of the time doing things that really don’t matter. The hipsters are tagging it FOMO (fear of missing out), and in a world dominated by social media, it’s easy to lose track of what’s important and be caught up in the lustful ways of comparison, writes Lisa O’Neill.

 There’s nothing like the blissful state that comes from having a day where you’re completely present in each moment and have time to appreciate where you are in life right now. Step back from the rat race and use these tips to reconnect with yourself and those you care about most.

1. Identify your core values
Feeling a little ‘all work and no play’? Or perhaps you’re starting to question whether you’re living the life you’ve always dreamed of or simply the one you’ve ended up with. Achieving balance and life satisfaction starts and finishes with you understanding exactly what are the most important factors in your life. Write a list of the things you value most (family, career progression, your health, love life, personal goals, etc) in order of priority. Put this list somewhere you will see it every morning and as you plan each day, ask yourself if your schedule and to-do list reflect your top values. If it doesn’t, ask yourself why unimportant tasks are a part of your day and start making changes.

2. Schedule the important stuff
Once you have your core values, dedicate time in your calendar to focus on them. Writer and business owner Kelly Exeter seems to achieve more in one day than many would in a year, with daily blog posts on various popular sites, her first book just published, being mum to two small children and running her graphic design business. To get the most out of each day, Exeter divides it into sections and tries not to let them overlap. When her kids are at school or daycare, her work is a priority and she dedicates focused blocks to getting her business goals accomplished. But once the mini troops walk through the door, it’s tools down.

“I switch off by compartmentalising my day so the few hours a day I get to be with my kids, I’m reasonably good at making sure I am focused on them,” says Exeter. “I also know that once they’re asleep, I will be able to get to the work I need to get done.”

If family is a top priority, block out a set time each day to enjoy each other’s company without any distractions. If a key project at work needs to be tied up, create meetings in your calendar each day where you’re completely task-focused in order to achieve your deadline.

3. Switch off your phone’s notifications
Who isn’t panic-stricken when they leave their mobile phone at home? Your means to be contactable 24/7 by those most important (and so regularly, those who aren’t), your diary, your email, your social platform (they got married! She finally had the baby! He had an amazing yum cha for lunch!) and your camera (you had the amazing yum cha, but did you really if nobody saw it on Instagram?

While they’re undeniably useful, focusing on tasks at hand is a lot easier without the constant tinkling of an email, message, tweet or whatever else pops up on your phone’s screen every time someone has a thought related to you.

Give your complete focus to what you’re working on, or who you’re spending time with by switching off the multiple notifications. It’s incredibly empowering to respond to the outside world when you choose to.

Set aside specific times each day (such as when you first arrive in the office, first thing after lunch and half an hour before leaving) to check your emails and messages so you still have plenty of time to respond to urgent issues.

4. Connect with the people you’re with
When Channel Ten’s new show Wonderland started up last year, my friends weren’t talking about how smoking hot Michael Dorman is (well, they were a little bit), but the water cooler conversation was dominated by the topic of FAT (food appreciation time) night.

Each week, the main characters got together for dinner, put their mobile phones in a bowl and don’t even glance at them for the entirety of the meal. A workmate shared that when they catch up for lunch with their school friends, the first person to check their phone pays for everyone else’s lunch. Such novel concepts! We were all truly impressed by the idea, but the more I thought about it, the fact we don’t automatically abandon our trusty technological sidekick during time spent with special people is shameful. Because if it’s worth catching up with someone, surely it’s worth giving them your undivided attention for the catch-up’s duration.

Spend the time relishing in each other’s company, hang on to their every word and make them feel like the most important person in your life at that very moment. Even if you only have a 30-minute coffee during your lunch break, you’ll be surprised at the quality of your conversation when it lacks interruption.

5. Meditate/find a quiet space each day
Have you noticed a common thread in extremely successful people? Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman, Paul McCartney, Miranda Kerr and Rupert Murdoch are just a handful of the seriously successful people known to practise daily meditation.

It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of our lives and feel overwhelmed. While stress increases the production of adrenaline and cortisol in our system, meditation works in the opposite way, reducing blood pressure and promoting a sense of calm and clarity of mind. Australian author Eric Harrison’s book The 5-Minute Meditator is a great place to start, as he guides you to take just five minutes each day to find clarity and consciousness.

“Long meditations are delightful, but you’ve got to have the right circumstances and most people don’t do them because they can’t integrate them into their lives,” says Harrison. “By relaxing rapidly for a minute or two, many times a day, I can stop daily challenges overwhelming me and I think more clearly and am more attuned to what I am doing.”

If you’re so busy you don’t even know where to start, try closing your eyes and breathing deeply 10 times. Focus on the simple act of inhaling and exhaling, and feel a sense of calm washing over you before tackling your to-do list.

6. Quit multitasking
Particularly true in women, we’re often guilty of boasting about our ability to multi-task, am I right? The problem is, multi-tasking is the number-one enemy of focusing. Once you’ve refined your to-do list to only reflect the things that matter most, make a concerted effort to go through the list one item at a time.

“Multi-tasking is a very expensive way to do things,” says Harrison. “If you can do one thing at a time, you’ll be far more efficient in the long run – we will always have lots of things to do, but trying to do them simultaneously is inefficient.”

A study by the University of California in 2005 found that it takes people on average between eight and 12 minutes to get back on task when their work has been interrupted, regardless of whether it was an external or internal interruption.

Continually switching focus means up to an hour each day is spent simply getting back on task. Commit blocks of time each day (even if it is just an hour in the morning or afternoon) where you block out all other tasks, and commit to completing one big task at a time. With a committed burst of focus, it is amazing how much you can achieve from your to-do list. 

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