ten habits to help you be more present

10HabitsToHelpYouBeMorePresentLately, 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!

Part 2 – 10 Habits to Help You Be More Present

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  1. Natalie | Natalie Dressed

    These are great tips! I’ve found that tapping into a spiritual place through my PV every day makes a huge difference to my ability to be present throughout the day. I’ve also noticed that as my PV becomes more of a habit and as my spiritual practice actually becomes a practice and not just something I tap into every so often, I find myself automatically being present more easily and more frequently throughout the day.

    I’m really eager to try the phone trick. I wouldn’t be able to take it out of the room completely because I sometimes get texts from my boss late at night or early in the morning asking me to come in early, but I want to try putting it across the room. One of my friends got herself an actual alarm clock so she could turn her phone off at night and she said it’s made a world of difference. 🙂

    1. That’s so great to hear, Natalie! It’s great to hear how your PV has kept going and made such an impact. : )

      I too have an actual alarm clock. It’s great. But the funny thing is, now that Mr. Lively sleeps on the couch during the week, he takes the clock with him to the living room so I never end up having a clock in the bedroom with me. It’s another great way to stay present while sleeping.

  2. Love these tips! Cannot wait to see the rest!

    I’ve been on the hunt for a cute alarm clock for almost a year so that I can move my phone out of my bedroom at night, I just cannot seem to find one that I like that doesn’t make literally the WORST noise ever in the morning!

    1. That’s great to hear! Let me know how they go for you this week. : )

      Which ones are you going to try specifically?

      1. No email checking in the evening and on weekends. I have been really struggling lately with the lack of boundaries I have with working from home. It’s wonderful to set my own hours, but I’ve been terrible about setting office hours and sticking to them. I think not checking email “after hours” will really help.

        And then leaving my phone out of the bedroom at night. That’s time I need to spend unwinding instead of checking instagram just one last time.

  3. Jess – were you watching me? Is that how you came up with your list?! I’m kidding. But really, these are great tips, and frankly most of them have been on my mind in a convicting way over the past month. I did give up email at night (not on weekends, baby steps!). Getting to bed early? I need to do that. I’m yawning as I type this. I have a hard enough time falling asleep at midnight, so I am worried about falling asleep, but I have to make the jump to a grown up bedtime.

    1. Exactly! Maybe you could try taking a bubble bath before bed to help you calm down and rest (maybe keep the lights out with just a candle?). It could be a soothing way to invite sleep in earlier. : )

      I’ve recently started doing bubble baths and love them!

  4. You are most welcome! Any specific ones you want to try this week? Please let me know how it goes!

    1. Lamisha Serf

      Going to bed earlier (which I did last night) and not checking site stats are going to be big ones. I would eventually like to get rid of checking emails at night but right now my midnight hustle is growing and my day job is ending shortly so working nights and some weekends has become far more common.

  5. That is so great to hear, Angel! Yes! Please try the phone in the kitchen. I find I feel waaaay more present in the bedroom while sleeping. It’s awesome to be curious about if any texts or messages came in the morning, but it’s nice not to check that while I’m still in bed. : )

  6. Awesome! Please let me know if you try any of them this week and let me know how it goes. : )

  7. Great ideas! I need to implement at least a few of them. I can’t imagine not having my phone next to my bed to check first thing in the AM and last thing at night-and clearly that is a sign that I need to stop! I think I have a phone addiction-but I think a lot of people do, so I don’t feel that bad :). And checking blog stats-ugh, kind of a downer at times. I should work on stopping that too.

    1. I know. It is easy to brush off our addictions (hello, phone) because so many other people have it too or have it worse than we do. But if we are being less present because of our habits, it is hurting us. Regardless of what other people are doing.

      Try one of these habits this week and one the next! Let me know what it is like after you’ve tried them!

  8. excellent tips, Jess! I think that I am going to try to limit how often I check my blog stats. Perhaps I’ll try going 1 week without checking!

  9. I love these tips! A few weeks ago I wrote about trying out a “hibernation/ staycation” of sorts over the next few months to help me simplify and get back to taking care of myself again. I will definitely be implementing these tips. Can’t wait to see the next batch!

    1. That is awesome to hear! I will be sharing the next ones soon!

      Also, please feel free to hop back here and let me know how your progress is going!

  10. For sure. I can get away with not checking for those kinds of links to my site since I get comment alert emails once an incoming link is made. But if you don’t have that, it might be a good idea (or, you could set up a google alert).

  11. As a blogger, habit #3 on not checking your blog traffic is definitely something I decided last week to stop doing! It has made all the difference. I will now only look once a month to see which blog posts resonated most with my readers so that I could focus more on that topic.


    1. That is awesome to hear, Quyen! I’m glad you’ve tried to ‘unplug’ in that way, too.

  12. Lisa

    I feel like this post was written for me! Thanks Jess. Lisa xo

    1. That’s awesome, Lisa. More habits to come in the next few days (or next week, depending on my time here in NYC).

  13. Meenakshi S Nair

    Loved this post, Jess! And I think the phone tip is a really good one. I browse through my Pulse reader as I go to bed, but that has a domino effect of wanting to check other content and social streams- so I’m in bed but not sleeping! I am going to try keeping the phone away, wake up half an hour earlier and use that as my reading and browsing time.

    1. I totally know what you mean. I find my iPad can lead to the same rabbit hole if I’m not really aware, too.

      Here’s to spending that time in the AM, not the PM!

  14. Awesome list. My bedroom is a “no phone zone” too. Still need to work on not checking work emails on the weekends.

    1. Nice! I am sure you can get to the other two goals over time. : ) For me, I’m still working on not checking my email throughout the day more than 2-3 times.

  15. Modupe

    Love this list. My current excuse is that my phone is my alarm. ..

    Got to do my devotionals in the mornings and yep, I’m starting to get it that whilst I’m a night girl, going to bed early does me a world of good.

    1. That’s great to hear! I totally understand about the alarm thing, too. However, I do suggest trying a different alarm other than the phone.

      We found a really cute one that looks retro, and sometimes I’ll use the nightstand app on my iPad with birds chirping to wake up, too. For some reason I don’t cave to the urge to check anything on the iPad like I do on my phone.

      Either way, I hope you find what works best for you. : )

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