The Elements of the Doing Mode of Mind

As a busy person, falling into doing mode of mind for almost 100 per cent of the time is very easy. Doing mode of mind is often a useful practice to have a constructive day — you need to remember to brush your teeth, pay that bill, post that gift, call your sister, arrange that meeting and remember to put the cat out.

Multitasking can be very useful, but if you’re in doing mode too much, you end up living your life on autopilot.

Here are the key elements of doing mode:

  • Your attention is on the past or the future. When in doing mode, you’re concerned about how you want things to be in the future. And you may reflect on or regret the way your life has gone in the past.

  • You strive to try to fix things. Doing mode is goal-oriented. So you’re constantly trying to fix problems and make things better. You’re not accepting the way things are at the moment at all.

  • You act and think habitually. Your thoughts and actions arise automatically from habit rather than as a conscious choice. You’re doing things the way you are because you’re in a less reflective state.

  • You avoid difficult thoughts, feelings or situations. Doing mode is also marked by a state of avoidance. Your attitude is one of avoiding difficulties rather than facing up to their reality.

  • You take thoughts to be real. For example, if you think ‘I always mess up Sunday roast dinner’, then you take that thought to be a fact. In reality, many people may have admired your Sunday lunch offering, but as you’re in an unreflective state, you are unable to see this.

Time to put your thinking cap on! Answer the following questions as honestly as possible to get an idea of how often you’re in doing mode.

  1. Do you find focusing on what’s happening in the present moment difficult?

  2. Do you tend to travel to my destination without focusing on what’s along the way?

  3. Do you feel as if you're running on autopilot?

  4. Do you rush through things, not paying great attention to what you're doing?

  5. Do you get so focused on a goal that you lose concentration on what you're doing right now to get there?

  6. Do you think a lot about the future and the past and less about the present moment?

  7. Do you become easily stressed and frustrated?

If you answered yes or maybe to four or more questions, then you may be in doing mode of mind too often.

Although doing mode is useful for humans in some ways (such as tying your shoelaces, or brushing your teeth on autopilot), this mode has its downsides. You can start to live your whole life in doing mode and you lose awareness of what’s around you.

You miss the blackbird in the tree outside your office window, the blessing that you have access to clean water, the feel of the wind in your hair as you walk down the street.

If you find yourself trapped in an endless cycle of doing, don’t feel disheartened. It’s quite common, and the nice thing is, mindfulness can help you to get out of this rut.

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