Lately, especially within the last six months or so, it seems like people are having more and more difficulty staying present in the Now throughout their day. Just noticing the new situations where we spot people looking at their smart phones is enough to prove the point. (While talking to a bank teller? Crossing a busy intersection? Texting and driving?)
I too have faced many challenges while trying to stay present over the years, particularly as smart phones granted access to my career 24/7.
While seeking to combat presence-zapping distractions in my life, I have realized:
No matter what we do, we cannot make one change and have presence forever. Over time, new distractions or routines will pop up in our lives.
Distraction is a moving target.
So our job, as presence-seeking beings, is not to find a “silver bullet” that dissolves our distractions forever, but to realize that we will need to remain aware of what interrupts our presence on a regular basis and make changes accordingly.
Here are ten habits that I have added to my life over the years which have allowed me to gain more presence. They may not all be ideal for your particular life situation, but some of them might be great experiments to try this week.
If they help you to gain any more peace and clarity moment-by-moment, they might be worth including permanently.
Habit 1: Don’t check (work) email on nights or weekends.
This one was huge for me. A few years ago, I “thought” that I was working about 40-50 hours per week on my business. But even so, I wasn’t ‘jumping out of bed’ to do my work each day like I expected.
Eventually, I realized that for my online business, checking email = working. So my habit of checking my phone the second I woke up to the second before I went to sleep left me working about 119 hours per week!
No wonder I wasn’t “jumping out of bed” each morning. I was working in bed while staring at my phone!
This habit was the hardest to implement, but also the most profound.
Two years later, I actually feel nauseous at the thought of looking at my inbox on nights or weekends.
Habit 2: Don’t sleep with the phone in the bedroom.
This one is far more do-able than most people imagine. Unlike Mr. Lively, who needs to be near his phone because he works for a hospital and gets night pages occasionally, I have no nighttime phone emergencies.
Instead, I leave my phone on its charger in the kitchen all night and hate the idea of having it in the bedroom (but I’ll be honest, this feeling took a few weeks to settle in).
I have been doing this for the past year and not once has there been a time where a truly important or urgent call or text was made that I needed to attend to at night.
(If you are on the fence about this habit but think it might be nice, try it for a week.)
Habit 3: Don’t check blog stats.
This is my newest habit (which is obviously applicable to bloggers) and one that has made the most massive positive change in my life recently. I feel way more present working during the day while not checking my site traffic at all.
Though I may need to check in occasionally for sponsors rates (unless I decide to have my Chief, Jen, start doing it for me…), there is no real reason that I need to sit and evaluate my own traffic.
Instead, I’m left to simply “be” (on the having/doing/being success scale) the blogger I’d like to be in the present moment.
Blog stats keep us stuck on what happened yesterday, last month, etc. They don’t need to affect how I come to my blog each day to write to you. And they don’t need to affect my mood positively or negatively. Whether they are high, normal, or low, they are distracting me from the Now. Away from being.
I can still sense how my community is growing through other things like the social media and the level of engagement in the comment section. But these don’t steal my presence or hurt my “being” moment-to-moment.
So though this might not be something that every blogger needs to consider, I do think it is worth trying out for those who have a gut feeling it might help them be more present.
It’s fascinating (and liberating) to remove the quantification and simply live from a place of true presence online.
Habit 4: Do something for your spirit first thing in the morning.
This one has been huge! Now that I do my private victory in the morning, I am much more aware of how challenging my days are when I don’t start the morning off with something spiritual.
For me, the hardest time to do the spiritual PV in the morning is when I need to get up at 4:30-5am for an early flight. On those days, I wait to do the PV on the plane ride instead.
However, when I skip the spiritual work in the morning I have way more negative thoughts cross my mind.
In fact, on our trip to Boston, I didn’t get do anything spiritual before our super early flight and I counted seven negative thoughts cross my mind by the time I woke up and put my contacts in. And I promise you, none of those thoughts came from living in the present moment!
Habit 5: Go to sleep earlier.
Being present requires us to observe our thoughts and to recognize when we are living from our ego’s point of view – which is always leaning towards the past or future, never the present moment.
In order to do this, we need to give our thought-life our complete attention. As we get less rest, this focused attention becomes a struggle.
Sleep therefore is essential to not only our wellbeing, but also to the presence that supports our ability to do things that enhance our wellbeing.
On the other hand, the habit of more sleep involves removing a night-time habit that is currently in our lives.
For Mr. Lively and I, we needed to exfoliate TV past 9 or 10, in order to include the habit of getting more sleep.
I hope you enjoyed these first five habits and consider trying a few of them out this week to see how they help you gain more presence in your life!