The essence of formal meditation is being aware of the present. Your mind might begin to wander, but once you realize it, just push it back gently. Getting lost is when a thought grabs you away and you begin to concentrate on that instead of the present.

Mingyur Rinpoche told in one of his teaching videos that the moment you realize you are lost, it’s like an awakening. At that moment you are fully aware of yourself and the present. You then have a choice between pursuing the same thought or return to your meditation practice. The problem is not getting lost, but failing to realize and return from it.

The same principle can be applied to everyday activities too. I have a tendency that when I see something interesting, I follow it along for a long time. For example, I might start by checking the weather, then I move along to the forecasts, and soon I find myself checking the 4G coverage in the Azores. I did nothing productive and a lot of time has passed.

Getting into the habit of checking every now and then whether you are lost can help reclaim these times. If you are doing one thing for some time, realize it and decide whether you are lost or not. If you are, then you have a chance to steer your attention away from the activity; then reappraise whether you want to continue doing it or not.

Introducing just a little mindfulness into your life can go a long way. You’ll have a lot more time to work on what is important instead of being lost all the time.