I’ve been reflecting on how to manage my time together. It wasn’t until I sat down and wrote out everything that I did in a day with brutal honesty until I realized how much time I waste in a single day. Studies show that the average person wastes about 90 minutes a day in the workplace. Honestly, I think that number is low. I think people that reported these numbers are oblivious to what sitting down and actually working means. When you factor in multitasking and “work” related distractions, I would bet that number is far higher.
What about life outside work? How much time do we waste? How many moments are we not intention about what we want to do? How many of us give in to what Steven Pressfield calls “resistance” at most turns of the day?
As I was reflecting, it all came down to being present. Presence is about being intentional and in the moment you are living in. It is about doing what you set out to do and not letting any mental distractions get in the way.
Presence Melts The Past Away
While it’s important to learn from your past mistakes to make corrects, most people let their past define who they are right now. We see it all the time in professional athletes when they get “the yips.” That’s their past errors creeping into their mind and crushing them in the current moment.
Be intentional about everything you do. If you want to ruminate about the past, be intentional about it. It’s okay. There are times where you should sit down and reflect on the past. You should visit the past every now and then but do not live in it.
Presence Allows Helps Your Future Worries
There’s only so much of our life that is in our control. We have the ability to influence our future but we do not have the ability to dictate it. What is in our control is the present moment.
Worrying is a reaction to how our future is going to play out. However, it should pass through us and be the signal that we need to find our true north. Worry is not the compass though. Presence and action are.
If you’re in a financial hole or worried about working in a job you hate for the next 20 years, worrying isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Life Becomes More Enjoyable
Have you ever been out with friends and realized that you weren’t enjoying it? That you had too much on your mind? You’re out with the people you like, hanging out but for some reason you wish you were doing something else?
I’ve done this before where there were times where I was having dinner with girlfriend and she called me out on not “being there” when we were having dinner together. Of course, I was thinking about writing and training plans for my races. When you have something you love and are obsessed with doing, it’s easy to make yourself think that you can think about it all the time.
Just because you’re not thinking about it, doesn’t mean that you’re going to fall out of love/passion with it. I know that have had this fear myself. Some deep part of my brain has thought that if I don’t think about running on a consistent basis, I won’t like running anymore. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
Presence Will Set You Above Others
Let’s be honest, in our connected world on the internet, we are probably the most disconnected in real life than we have ever been. When I get in my elevator that is maybe a 15 second elevator ride, 90% of the people in the elevator with me pull out their phone and scroll through something. It’s like this sick impulse to never allow yourself to be bored, even if it’s for 15 seconds.
Most people are craving attention. They try to fill that void on social media but nothing beats attention in real life. If you give someone your full attention in real life, they will notice.
Presence Will Make You More Productive
Theodore Roosevelt was known for his ability to stay in the present as his productivity hack. When you look at the list of accomplishments from Theodore Roosevelt, optically it would seem like he was doing everything at once. It makes sense though. If you stayed dialed into one task at a time, all the time and gave it your best, imagine what kind of progress you would make?
In todays world, so many people have convinced themselves that they are “hacking” productivity because they’re listening to a podcast or audiobook while they workout or while they work. If they took a quiz on things that were talked about on the podcast they listened to while they were working, how well do you think they would do? How much of that information was actually useful?
I tried to write while watching something in the background on the TV. I just couldn’t do it. What ended up happening was I wrote little down and had a show on that I didn’t know what was going on. All it did was make me feel the slightest more anxious. It wasn’t even productive to me. Instead of getting two things done at once, I got 10% of two things done.
Presence Destroys Boredom
When you get to a certain level of practicing presence, nothing seems boring. One thing that I do now is just try to observe the environment around me. It gives me a deeper appreciation for my senses. Today, when I was walking out to my car, I simply noticed the sound of the wind blowing through the tree leaves. It was one of the most relaxing and beautiful sounds I had heard in a long time. Think I’m exaggerating? Try it.
Even if you get bored, that’s okay. Lean into your senses on why you’re bored. Scan your body, put your attention onto the sights and sounds around you. Allowing your mind to not be bombarded with information all seconds of the day is a good thing. It allows it to settle as it should.
One of the biggest take aways I have from being present is that trying to block something out or distracting yourself isn’t always the best solution. I experimented with this when I took some cold showers. Early in the mornings, I could not muster up the courage to get into a cold shower but when I practiced presence and lead into the sensation of the cold, the shower was not as bad. It turned out the painful sensation I was feeling, was actually the anticipation of it.
Starting off a practice of presence is difficult. I would recommend starting off by a short meditation every morning. Take 10 minutes and set your intentions for the day. Remind yourself that you need to be present. Then remind yourself again around lunch time. Then remind yourself again in the evening. Eventually you will remember to practice it. Block off time that you will use your phone for anything other than answering phone calls.