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12 Ways To Live More In The Moment

12 Ways To Live More In The Moment

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

This tidbit of Ferris Bueller wisdom is probably even more relevant in today’s fast-paced society than it was at the time of the movie’s release. Between our phones, our careers and the Internet, there’s always something pulling our attention away from the here and now. It’s easy to let minutes, hours and even days slip by without a second thought.

Here are 12 things you can do to help you live more in the moment:

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1. Holster your phone

Our phones are probably the greatest source of distraction in our lives. Even at important meetings or events, if we hear its telltale buzz, we’ll try to discreetly check it under the table, incapable of disconnection for even a short length of time. So, holster your phone! Force yourself to unplug. When you want to engage with the moment, turn it off or set it to silent so that you can focus on what’s going on around you without interruption.

2. Pay attention to your senses

Focus on the way the breeze feels against your skin. Really experience the taste of your coffee in the morning. See, smell and hear what’s happening around you. It’s easy to dismiss our perceptions as background noise when we’re distracted, but such a multitude of rich experiences await if we simply engage with our senses- even when standing in an elevator or sitting in class. The smell of aged textbooks or the feeling of air conditioning ruffling your hair can truly be an incomparable experience.

3. Get enough sleep

When we’re tired, it’s hard to focus on anything. Being short on sleep leads to wandering thoughts and a general inability to concentrate. This makes it very difficult to be present in the moment. Getting a full night’s sleep is important to revitalize the mind and enable it to engage with the world.

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4. Meditate

Many forms of meditation exist, but all cultivate a greater presence in the moment. The brain is trainable, and regular meditation can actually alter thought patterns, leading to a more present mindset both during its practice and throughout everyday life.

5. Connect with nature

When hiking through a buzzing forest or gazing across a mountain range, its hard to care about anything but the present moment. We evolved in the natural world, and reconnecting with it reminds us of our roots and the true nature of life.

6. Spend less time on social-networking sites

Social networking can be addicting. However, the life you lead online is a fabrication, a virtual reality- nothing compared to the real thing. Many get sucked in to this online world, though, placing far too much value on their profiles and how their lives appear. Spending less time worrying about your online persona will leave more time for actual living.

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7. Exercise

Physical activity puts you in touch with your body and its capabilities, which can help you experience things more fully. When your heart’s racing and the adrenaline’s flowing in those last few minutes of a workout, it’s hard not to be in the moment, experiencing each sensation, even if some are unpleasant.

8. Think about death

Reminding yourself of your mortality will help you appreciate life and each moment you still have. It may sound macabre, but contemplating the shortness of existence will only make each moment matter more to you, and you’ll live each more fully.

9. Choose your friends carefully

Pessimistic friends can put a very negative spin on life. It’s important to surround yourself with people who raise you up rather than bring you down. Who we choose to have in our lives can have a great influence on our lifestyles, and choosing the right kind of people will lead to a more positive outlook and a more present mindset.

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10. Reign in your thoughts

When we engage in relatively mindless activities such as driving or eating, our thoughts tend to wander from the moment. When this happens, reign them in. Lasso them and force them back into the now. Pay attention to your actions, to the way things look around you. Focus on the external world rather than your internal world.

11. Don’t multitask

Instead of catching up on email and watching Breaking Bad while you eat lunch, just eat lunch. You can’t be fully present in the moment when your attention is split between ten different things. Focusing on one activity at a time will help you enjoy each more fully.

12. Do what you love

If you find your passion and pursue it, you won’t find your mind wandering away from the moment or drifting to other things because you’ll want to experience what you’re doing. When you’re doing what you love, you won’t have to actively engage with the moment- you will live for it.

Featured photo credit: Egor Gribanov via en.wikipedia.org

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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