The benefits of being “present” (you know, paying attention to the world around you) are countless: stress reduction, increased productivity, higher quality relationships. But something that should be so simple is actually pretty hard to put into practice. Here, five highly beneficial tips for living in the moment.
DO ONE THING AT A TIME
In theory multitasking is awesome, but in practice it usually means you’re too distracted to focus on any one thing long enough to actually ace it. And not only is multitasking stopping you from living in the present, it’s also highly inefficient. Researchers at Stanford University determined that people who multitask “do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.”
USE ALL OF YOUR SENSES
OK, this sounds super new agey, but stay with us. The next time you’re eating a meal, don’t just taste it, but also try to notice how it looks and feels and smells as it goes into your belly. This allows you to be fully engaged in what you’re doing right this second and is actually a pretty lovely way to approach food, period. (Just don’t get all What About Bob on your corn, OK?)
SPEND FIVE MINUTES A DAY DOING NOTHING
At least five minutes. If your day affords ten, even better. Practicing mindfulness is an amazing way to stay present. With nothing to focus on but your own breathing, you’re completely in the moment and not worried about that weird comment your boss made yesterday or the 25 things you have to do for your friend’s birthday party tomorrow. Trust us, it’s hugely relaxing.
ESTABLISH REAL CONNECTIONS
You know, ones that don’t involve Snapchat or LinkedIn. At work, look up from your computer and make eye contact with your colleague as you talk something through. At home, make a habit of going around the table and asking each family member about their day. At the grocery store, ask the cashier where she got her beautiful glasses and really listen to her reply. It’s easy and enjoyable and hardly takes any time at all.
KEEP YOUR TECH USAGE IN CHECK
Yes, the modern world pretty much necessitates checking your phone after hours. But it doesn’t have to be all-consuming. Set a specific block of time when you check your phone each night after work. And consider the rest of your evening to be tech-free. By limiting your nightly digital usage, you’ll become much more efficient in completing tasks–and will come to appreciate in-the-moment activities (like cooking dinner or reading your kids bedtime stories) a heckuva lot more.