Do you focus on the here and now?
I talk a lot about this idea of being present -- focusing on the moment that is in front of you, rather than the moments that are to come. I don’t like to plan out my moments too far in advance; I like to embrace serendipity.
I have found that the core of being present lies in being able to effectively separate different parts of your life. You can have multiple things going on, but you need to know how to create boundaries between those things.
It’s easy to say that being present is all about not doing anything other than embracing what is going on right now. That is true, but many people confuse that to mean doubling down only on one thing, and forgetting about everything else.
Life is complex, and so it’s difficult to retain such a focus on something.
When you’re working on multiple different things, getting distracted is easy. You end up becoming a master of none, and pretty good at a few different things. Multitasking is not an effective technique, for it requires you to be thinking about two things at once -- a phenomenon I believe to be impossible.
I have been staying present over the last few months by breaking up my day into different components and focusing on each component in isolation.
When I wake up in the morning, I am in my morning routine mindset. I need to do certain things in a certain order. I also like to enjoy eating my toast, slowly and blissfully.
When I start work in the morning, I’m in the writing mood. I need to write for a certain period of time, and hit the goals I have set for that day. All that matters in those hours is whether or not I am writing, and doing so to a high quality.
Before I made such a push to focus on the present moment, I found that my mind would gravitate toward work when I was not working. I’d think about side projects when I was working. I’d think about family when I was reading. This made it really difficult for me to just be, without having to think about a number of different things at once.
One thing I have found to help here is to create separate zones in my life. My desk is for working and reading. My bed is for sleeping and journaling. My living room is for spending time with family, without any expectations.
I have also found it to be helpful to eliminate distractions purposefully. I have turned off notifications after 8pm on my phone. I have unsubscribed from many email newsletters. That way, it’s easier for me to focus on the present moment; there are very few things that can draw me out of my working mindset, or my morning routine mindset.
Focusing on the here and now allows me to be better. I can write better when all that matters is the words on the page. I can think better when I allow myself to just think. I can be more engaged with family when I let myself focus just on doing that.