Being fully present in the moment is hard. Even as I type this, I have 2 other tabs open for work I’m trying to finish so I know how hard it is to focus on one thing. We’ve been told that multi-tasking is key in all areas of life, but truth be told, we wind up missing out on some memorable, sometimes very important moments when we don’t pay attention to what we’re doing, and/or what is happening around us. While this particular instance isn’t my best, I will say that over the past few months I made a conscious decision to be more present in everything that I do, and it’s an ongoing process. Sure there are times where I may have to respond to a message at that very moment while in a meeting, but for the most part, I’ve done a much better job with being present, especially when I’m with family and friends.
We will always be a work in progress (we’re human after all), but here are a few tips that have helped me be a lot more present day to day.
I’m here to tell you, you need to slow down. I’m not saying that you need to be lazy, but what I am saying is that you need to slow down and not try to get so much done at one time. Reason being, when you’re doing the most (multi-tasking 5 things at one time, or jumping from thing to thing while moving around), you really aren’t getting as much done as you think you are. You’re doing a whole lot of jerking and flailing, but you’re also missing quality control steps and making errors (which you’ll have to fix down the line). SLOW. DOWN. You want to be able to confirm that you’ve fully completed a task, and if it’s something that you’ve been wanting to accomplish forever, you want to actually be able to celebrate its completion when it’s done as well. You don’t have to rush through every single thing that you do. As the saying goes: slow and steady wins the race.
Unplug from social media
I’m not going to tell you to put your phone down because we do so much with it, but I will say unplug from social media for a bit so that you can actually listen to that podcast, read that news article, or talk on the phone to a friend without missing out on half of the conversation or retaining what you actually read/heard. Social media is fun, and many times we actually hop on there to share, but don’t be so caught up on sharing what you’re doing that you don’t even get to fully enjoy what you’re doing. Unless IG deletes your account or you get hacked, your feed will be there, so it’s ok to unplug sometimes. Every moment of your day doesn’t have to be shared.
Spend time will your family
Nothing will (or should) make you feel worse for being on your phone all the time than a family member that is annoyed that you’re not paying attention to them (especially kids. Kids can gut punch you without even touching you). When you’re with your family, even if it’s for a short period of time, be present and really soak in that quality time together. As we age, certain faces that we’re used to seeing may not always be there, so any time you feel like reality has gotten away from you, go and spend time with someone in your family. If that’s not ideal, spend it with a friend that always makes you feel loved when you’re together.
Make time for yourself
One of the hardest things to do is to make time for ourselves. Granted, you can’t get away from yourself, but think about all of the times that you skipped out on classes, dinners, even bubble baths because you felt like you had too much to do. That’s not a healthy way to continuously live. When you make time for yourself, you’re making time to recharge or feed your senses in some way. When you’re happy and carving out sacred time for yourself, you’re taking care of your needs. When you take care of your needs, you can then help other people or knock out tasks on your to-do list with a lot more ease because you aren’t burnt out or wishing you were somewhere else. You cannot serve from an empty vessel, so periodically take time to be alone and be present with yourself.
The act of being present is hard, and it’s so much more than just taking time out to meditate or breathe deeply (though these things do help and can do wonders for stress and anxiety); you really want to also work on creating a better balance of how you spend your overall time and energy with day to day tasks and interactions. Finding that balance will be hard, but getting as close to it as possible will help allow you to be present in all aspects of your life.
What steps do you take to be present?