How to stay present throughout the day
11 months ago by André Giæver
It’s hard to stay present in the moment and focused on the task at hand when the world around you pulls you in every direction. Luckily, there are hacks you can implement to fight the chaos.
Holistically, the way to go about it is with a simplistic approach. You need to identify who and what steals your focus and energy. A great way to identify this is to do a proper mind-sweep to get what’s in your mind down on paper.
Whatever is on your mind, is worth writing down onto a piece of paper, and there are two reasons for that. If you get it down on to paper you get it out of your working mind. It’s obviously still in there, just not as an item that your mind feels it needs to process.
The second reason is that when you have all of your thoughts, worries and half-baked plans on a paper in front of you it’s easier to be objective end deliberate in terms of processing them. Strikeout whatever item that’s either out of your control or just not worth your time to begin with and make a mental note to remind you that this is wasting your time thinking about whenever they resurface.
The rest of the items should be processed by the 2 minute rule. Either you deal with them at once or schedule a time in your calendar to deal with them later. Yes, you need to set aside time in your calendar or else they stay locked in the conscious processing loop, poking your concentration.
Springclean to stay present
You need to rid yourself of both mental and physical clutter to stay present. On the flip side, if you’re constantly in your head dealing with random issues that pop up or you’re at home and are constantly being distracted by clutter – how on earth do you expect to be able to stay present in any situation?
For this reason, the mind-sweep exercise I mentioned above, is crucial. Doing a similar exercise around your home is next up. A home-sweep. Walk from room to room and write down whatever comes to mind that needs attending, both big and small. Don’t forget to check your cupboards too.
I’m not telling you to spitshine your home, nor do I expect you to become a full-blown minimalist. What I am suggesting to you though, is to clean and declutter to the point where you no longer are being distracted by misplaced stuff or unfinished business around the house. You also need to consider how to avoid clutter to build up again once you’re happy with your current setup.
Make use of transitional resets
Bouncing from meeting to meeting or not being able to complete a task before you’re off to do another is mentally straining for anyone. It’s often hard to readjust your focus and energy when you’re constantly in flux between what you just did and what upcomming events you’re faced with.
A transitional reset is in order. It’s a simple yet powerful method of resetting your head as you transition from one situation to another. It involves you touching base with yourself for about 2 to 3 minutes, and it’s applicable to just about everything. Let me explain how it will ground you and help you stay present.
Find a space where you’re able to be private. The toilet is my go-to space for three reasons; It’s easy to excuse yourself in even the most stressful of situations, there’s always one nearby and it’s most definitely private.
Now, standing in your private space, take a minute to reflect on the situation you just entered out of. Maybe it was a messy meeting, maybe a stressful commute. Either way, take a minute to intentionally walk through the parts of the experience that stuck with you. Acknowledge what was straining and try to let it pass as noise that doesn’t deserve your attention. Secondly, try to find at least one positive aspect with the experience that you’re grateful for.
Finally, shift your focus towards the situation that awaits you. What are you looking forward to? What will be your contribution in terms of positive energy and as a resource? Take a couple of deep breaths and face your new situation with a big fat smile.
Stay off your devices
Use your phone for what it was intended for, a tool. Not a crutch or pacifier. Don’t get me wrong, I love my phone. I just happen to love my ability to stay present and enjoy those around me more.
Studies have shown that similarly to drugs, gambling or smoking, our devices trigger the same dopamine response in our brains. Yes, we are for better or worse addicted to our devices. Similar to other forms of addiction, it steals the attention and hijacks our focus away from our surroundings and our ability to stay present.
As a side note, whenever our phone is visible when engaging in conversation with others we subconsciously relay the message that whoever we’re talking to is not our primary focus of attention. To paraphrase one of my dear mentors, Simon Sinek; “If you place your phone on the table while talking to someone, it’s not more polite to turn your phone face down”.
Practice courage and gratitude
Whenever you engage in something that requires your courage or you focus on what you’re grateful for, you are present. It’s that simple. Both of these exercises demand you to stay present.
Simple as it is, it’s not necessarily easy to do. Courage especially is painful and by nature frightening to practice. The greatest of rewards though, is that it builds your character and confidence, which in turn makes you more resilient to both internal and external pressure.
Showing gratitude toward those around you is something of mutual benefit. There’s no better way to connect with people while at the same time staying present and engaged.
Stop your pursuit of happiness
Happiness is not a goal. Don’t get me wrong, happiness is something worth fighting for, but it’s a fool’s errand to chase. Much like chasing rainbows are impossible, so is pursuing happiness. And trying to do so keeps you from enjoying the moment.
If you constantly focus on “how nice it would be if…” or “once I achieve this, then…” you’ll never be able to enjoy the moment. Consequently, to stay present also becomes unattainable as you’re always chasing the next proverbial rainbow.
Happiness is a byproduct of fulfillment which is the sweet reward of engage in activities that are in line with you heart. It may sound a bit cheesy, but it’s nevertheless true. To be able to truly stay present in in any moment requires you to find the link, however unlikely, between what you’re currently doing and what ultimately fulfills you. Courage and gratitude are important tool to uncover this connection.
Closing thoughts on how to stay present
If you were to implement these hacks or even just some of them, I guarantee you’ll be able to stay present in ways you never thought possible. These are simple hacks and you can apply them as you see fit. I’m not going to tell you it’s going to be easy though. It will take practice and dedication, but trust me, it’s worth it.
Whenever you’re able to stay present and focused on whats in the now, nothing short of a miracle starts to unfold. You start to notice the world around you. You start to appreciate the otherwise unnoticeable. Best of all, you begin to bring happiness into the present. It’s no longer tied to whatever you envision for the future, it’s for you to enjoy and share right now.
Published by André Giæver
I'm just a curious and generally positive guy that has a huge appetite for life and a deep passion for simplicity and optimization. This blog and site is my way of paying my knowledge forward so that we all can live fulfilling lives.