Well-Being//

How to Actually be Present Where You Are

Eliminate distractions so you can truly be present.

Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/ Getty Images
Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/ Getty Images

We live in a world where we have anything we could ever want in our pockets and purses. Smartphones mean constant connectivity. Social media means instant contact. Apps mean unlimited resourcefulness. But for all the good they provide, they often prevent us from being present in the moment.

If we stand any chance of being a happy, healthy, and productive society, we must learn how to eliminate distractions and be present where we are. And while it’s easy to point the finger, this shift starts with you.

3 Tips for Being Present Where You Are

Did you know that nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes every year – an average of 3,287 deaths per day? By one count, 10 percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of total motor vehicle crashes are caused by distractions.

“Common distractions include cell phones, navigation systems, searching for something, other passengers, stereo systems, dropping an item, eating, drinking, and anything else that diverts your attention from driving safely,” Lane & Lane, LLC explains.

While it’s easy to recognize the impact of our distracted lives when there are such tangible and disastrous effects, it’s not nearly as easy when the consequences go unnoticed for months or years at a time. However, the reality is that we spend most of our time distracted, rather than living in the moment.

If you want to start living a more focused life, you need to begin with the distractions. By removing them – or at least limiting the impact they have – you can begin to be present.

Here’s what this looks like in practice:

1. Set Goals

If you find it truly difficult to be present in the moment, then chances are you don’t have much direction in your life – on a small scale or large scale. In order to find meaning, joy, and fulfillment in the place where you are, you need goals and objectives.

Goals give you purpose and take your mind away from the external distractions that are competing for your focus. When you have very specific objectives at work, at home, in relationships, with hobbies, etc., there aren’t as many opportunities for your mind to wander.

2. Disconnect From Technology

There’s a reason we, as a society, seem to be more distracted now than we were 15, 20, or 30 years ago. The answer is technology (and mobile devices in particular). It used to be that you had to sit down at a desktop computer or go to the library to get online. Now you have a pocket-sized device that goes everywhere with you.

As countercultural as it may be, you need to disconnect from technology for multiple hours every day. Turn off your tablet, silence your phone, and log out of your email account. Train yourself to function without having technology to distract you. You’ll find that you’ve been missing out on many of the important things that are happening around you.

3. Stop Multitasking

Multitasking kills being present in the moment. This frantic back and forth between different tasks creates unnecessary stress and limits productivity.

One strategy to curb multitasking is to use the Pomodoro Technique, which encourages segmenting your day into 25-minute blocks of time (followed by five-minute breaks).

“This approach helps you stay focused, of course. But I found that it also helped me to stay zoned in on one thing at a time,” entrepreneur Kat Boogaard says. “I was subconsciously challenging myself to see how far I could get on that specific project or task before my time was up — meaning I didn’t feel as tempted to switch between to-dos.”

Whether you use a formal approach – such as the Pomodoro Technique – or simply make a point of narrowing your focus, eliminating multitasking from your life will give you greater focus and attention on the things that matter.

Say Goodbye to Pointless Distractions

By definition, a distraction is something that diverts your attention
away from the person, place, or thing that you should be focusing on. If you
want to live a life where you’re present in the moment, you need to eliminate
distractions and mitigate the impact they have on your life. 

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