Pondering: Are You Present?

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This is the time of year when everyone is busy and rushing. How many activities did you complete without even remembering the details because you weren't focused and in the moment?

Do you find that you didn't get everything done that you needed to and don't know why?


Being present and in the moment is this week's pondering topic.

When I am in yoga class, I am gently reminded to stay present, breathe and be in the moment ~ I would like to do that everyday with each activity and strive to do so.

I am a really high energy person and I get a lot done in a day! Learning the balance between extreme focus and creative outflow is something that works for me but is a constant work in progress. I am a work in progress! Aren't we all?

If you are attempting multitasking, what you are doing is skirting over the surface and bouncing from idea to idea. While this is also how I come up with a lot of my creative ideas, there are times when you need to stop and zoom in on this moment, person or activity. Studies have shown that we don't actually have the ability to multitask and each time our focus is pulled from an activity, it can take up to thirty minutes to refocus fully again. This is especially true for me while writing or working on any creative projects. Maybe the same is true for you.

Getting to know yourself and what you need is important! I really enjoy cooking and I know that this is something that  requires me to fully focus. My family knows that this isn't the time to start a conversation with me as I need to pay attention to the ingredients, recipe and timing everything perfectly. I try to tell them when I am entering a task such as writing or cooking and give them the opportunity to share something or ask me a question before I start. It doesn't always work but it helps.

In our family, one way that we stay present and engaged with each other is having a family meal together every night. During this time, we share the details of our day, discuss current events and laugh as a family. Many of our best conversations have occurred during this special time together. There are no phones calls, texting, tweeting, books or any outside interruptions allowed. We share a meal with candles and engage in the most important activity: being a family. Being present together in this moment is a bond that we will always remember. It is a place where we share our joys and disappointments, plan for the future and support each other.

Another thing that helps me stay present in the current activity is to make lists. Knowing what I have to do and prioritizing each task allows me the freedom to focus on each task individually and let go of the nagging feeling that I am forgetting something. If you are working on something and another thought pops up, add it to your list but don't switch tasks. Can't fall asleep because your mind is racing? Make a list of all those items that you need to do tomorrow and let your mind rest.

Each person has their unique way of focusing and being present ~ knowing those in your life,  how to best support them and help them be all that they can be is a wonderful gift.

Do you stay present and in the moment? What tricks do you employ to obtain the focus you need to complete everything? Love to hear them!

Featured image courtesy of  jess_mcculloch via Creative Commons.

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Article by Peg Fitzpatrick

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  1. Being present is one of today’s biggest challenges. I think it effects individuals and businesses. I love the way you have tied this in with family as well. The more we do in our day to day lives and the more demands put upon us, the more this becomes an issue. The idea of letting people know before hand when you will not be present (like when you need to cook, or write, or focus on something yourself) is great, balancing that with making time for those people around you who need your presence at an appropriate time, like family dinners is another awesome suggestion. Thanks for this great post Peggy. I think the same principles you have mentioned work in the office too! Let people know if you are not present or can’t be, but make sure to give them their time as well. 🙂 great “pondering” to start the year!

    1. I agree about it relating to work as well. I work at home now but had to use these same techniques at my last job. Sometimes you need uninterrupted time to focus. I worked for a housing authority and in the building with all the lovely seniors. I miss their interruptions to say hello and give me a hug. Those were very nice.

      I frequently wonder about the work time that is spent on needless email loops and the focus that it pulls each time the email pings.
      Thanks for your thoughts!
      Happy New Year! <3

  2. Ahhh, in our constantly plugged in world, it is ever difficult to stay present. For me, the simplest thing is to turn it all OFF, especially at family dinners. No phones, no TV.

    Happy New Year, Peg!

    1. Remember the old days Bruce when you were done with work when you went home? Now with email, cell phones, texting and social media people except a response 7 days a week practically 24 hours a day! Thanksgiving at 7 am my husband had a business call on his cell. That is ridiculous!
      More focus needed indeed!

  3. Lovely visual Leslyn and a great idea to pull physicality into focus factor!

  4. Thanks for this post, Peg! This is one of the things I’m working on for 2012–probably my biggest personal challenge. My mind is constantly racing. My natural tendency is to always be thinking, “what’s next?” Is a sense, this is good because it helps me stay focused on progress. At the same time, it’s terrible because I always am missing what’s right in front of me. It’s literally like my presence is in tomorrow and the me that’s living today is a hollow shell of yesterday’s plans.  Because of that, I miss a lot of important and meaningful subtleties in both tasks and relationships. Big goal for 2012: slow down and take in the scenery!

  5. Powering down to recharge our batteries is a good plan. I think social media is a hampster wheel of activities, tasks and communication. Thinking about the next post, tweet or if someone is talking to us along with cell phones etc is becoming more of an energy drag for many folks.

    Definitely something to think about!
    Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. Years ago I went to a retreat in Maine and it was my first Yoga experience… I was so wired (my natural state) that I literally could not relax AT ALL. I freaked myself out a little and knew that I needed to make some serious changes.

    It is a constant challenge in this hyper-connected world to focus. I recently moved into a very quiet office and it has really allowed me more quiet time.

    If only my family would learn the “I need timing/focus when I’m cooking, damn it!” Rule 🙂

    1. I am pretty high energy too Amy which is why yoga is great for me. I aspire to have the grace and quiet peace of my favorite teacher Gretchen. But I am a bubbly, excited girl which is ok too! But for one hour a week, I am in Gretchen’s calm environment and it is amazing how long that peace can last inside. I have come up with amazing writing ideas while I was practicing.

      Good luck with the timing/focus with cooking! I am still working on that in practice too. I need a shirt that says “I am a work in progress & so are you!”

      We are all just doing the best we can everyday, right?

      1. Yes, but I was raised on Big Catholic Guilt… meaning I will never be good enough… but hey – that’s a whole lotta drive right there.

  7. Thanks for helping me focus, Peggy.  I used to think I could multi-task myself through any day until I discovered that I had started lots of things but had finished a paltry few.  I have given up, and after having read what may have been some of the studies you mentioned, I won’t try again.  I don’t have the capacity to do more than one thing at a time and do it well.

    And, being bombarded with all kinds of stimuli from all over the place can only compound the issues that multi-tasking can cause.

    Now, I do one thing at a time.  And, I don’t usually stop until it is completed!


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