The Big Idea
It’s impossible to be productive without really being present.
Questions I Answer
- How can I be more present with my family?
- How can I figure out what’s holding me back?
- How can I have more balance at work and home?
- What can I do to increase my happiness and my productivity?
Actions to Take
- Realize the importance of slowing down and of being present, reflect on what’s important to you, and put regular check-in moments throughout your day to ensure that you are being deliberate with your time & present wherever you are at.
Key Topics in the Show
The fact that productivity combined with presence leads to accomplishments that feel meaningful
What it means to be present
How being present allows us to recognize our stumbling blocks
What it means to be deliberate with your time
How being present impacts your level of happiness
Welcome to Productivity Paradox from inkWELL Press. A podcast focused on finding success and happiness through the power of productivity. Each season Tanya focuses on specific strategies to help you discover your own priorities and purpose. Season six is all about turning your stumbling blocks into starting blocks.
You can also join Tanya for more interaction and support in her free Facebook group at inkWELLpress.com/group, and now, here’s your host, Tanya Dalton.
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host Tanya Dalton, owner of inkWELL Press and this is episode 76. Today’s episode is brought to you by Blue Apron, and I’ll be sharing later on in the show how you can get $30 off your first box. Today though, I want to talk about how to be present. You see, my son Jack, has stopped calling me mommy. There was no fanfare, or confetti, no bells going off that last moment that he chose to use that title with me. I have no idea what was the last day for him to bestow that moniker on me. I just remember him calling down the stairs, and I don’t even remember what he asked me about that day. But, I do clearly remember that he called me, “Mom.”
I looked over at John and said, “He called me mom.” I sat there a little dumbfounded, and I wondered, “When did this happen?” I flipped through the card catalog in my brain. Is it just me who imagines myself flipping through cards of information until I finally hold the right one up triumphantly? I started feverishly tearing apart the stack of cards in my brain. I was scouring for these moments where he had referred to me as mommy. Then I realized, it had apparently been a while. This is a good thing, I have to remind myself. After all, Jack is a teenager. I should have known this was going to happen. It would be strange for a high school kid to call his mom, “Mommy.” Let’s be honest, I wouldn’t want him to like at the age of 30, refer to me as mommy. That’s the stuff that horror movies are made of. Men who are oddly attached to their mothers, while strange women shower in their hotel rooms. But, I digress.
It does make me think, we don’t know when is the last time for anything. Let’s make the most of these moments, and slow down to enjoy them. We have to stop rushing through life, and missing all of the goodness that is there before us. Have you ever felt that vague sense of dissatisfaction with your day? Your day passed in a blur, you sat at your desk without really paying attention to your tasks, or the people around you. You probably got things done and were productive in the traditional sense, but did you actually get anything important done?
Busy and hustle are huge buzzwords in society today, but they’re meaningless if you’re not getting meaningful or important things done. What we really need to focus on, is allowing ourselves to do the things we care about effectively. Life is not about the hustle.
My definition of productivity is not getting more done, it’s focusing and spending our time on what matters most. Productivity is a worthwhile pursuit when combined with presence. Being productive in this sense leads to accomplishments. Accomplishments
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that feel meaningful. Without presence, productivity can become busyness, where we find ourselves performing task, after task that have no meaning to us in the long run. Busyness is a distraction to living in the present. While it’s good to make the most of the time we have, we can’t use productivity as a way to avoid the present, or to maximize each and every second of our time. Presence creates a process of seeing each moment, and being mindful whether or not we’re acting upon our core values.
When we can act upon our core values moment to moment, accomplishments follow. So, what does that mean, to be present? This is not a permanent state that we live in, it’s awareness on a moment to moment basis that will come through. Our actions, our words, and our emotions align when we’re present. Our whole self is in harmony with itself, and connected. This connection makes us more open to connecting with others in an honest way. In this sense that I define productivity, it’s impossible to be productive without really being present. Where we step back and we ask ourselves what we care about and why.
Being present allows us to notice our stumbling blocks. Am I being perfectionistic right now? Do I feel like an imposter? Am I comparing myself to others? Why don’t I feel motivated? Am I distracting myself? Am I procrastinating? When we ask ourselves these questions and acknowledge how we’re feeling, we shift from mindlessly doing things that make us feel busy, to actually doing deep work and getting the important things done. We stop falling into that trap of trying to maximize every single minute, and we allow ourselves to enjoy the experience along the way.
You physically change when you become more present. Your posture shifts to take up more space, and you become more open and inclusive, rather than slouching and closing ourselves off. When you fail to be present with others, they feel unheard,
and many times feel frustrated. Your inner voice distracts you with your own thoughts like, “I wish he would stop talking.” Or, “I’ve heard all this before.” Or, “I wonder if Katie responded to my text.” Unfortunately, this tends to be our default mode of thinking.
Research by Matthew Killingsworth, and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University found that people spend almost 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. Unfortunately, these wandering thoughts have an emotional cost. To track their subjects behavior, they developed an iPhone app that contacted volunteers at random intervals to ask how happy they were, what they were currently doing, and whether they were thinking about their current activity, or something else that was more pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant. On average, respondents reported that their minds were wandering 47% of the time, and no less than 30% of the time during almost every activity.
People were at their happiest when they were exercising, engaging in conversation, or being intimate with others. They were unhappiest when resting, working, or using their home computer. So, Killingsworth says, “How often our mind leaves the present, and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we’re engaged.” They estimate that only four and a half percent of a person’s happiness in any given moment could be attributed to the specific activity they were doing. But, a person’s mind wandering status accounted
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for about 11% of their happiness. To be happier, we have to stop letting our inner voices distract us, and we need to be fully present.
Other research has found direct correlation between leader’s mindfulness, and the well being and performance of their teams. The more a leader is present with their people on their team, the better their team performs. As CEO of Campbell Soup Company for over a decade, Doug Conant developed a habit he called, “Touch points,” for connecting with people at all levels of his company. A good chunk of his morning was dedicated to walking around the plant. Greeting people, getting to know them. He would memorize names, and the names of their family members by taking a genuine interest in their lives. He hand wrote letters of gratitude to recognize their efforts, and personal messages of encouragement when someone was having trouble.
During his tenure, he sent more than 30,000 of these letters. These touch points could be looked at by some leaders as a waste of time, because they’re not in their office doing busy work. But really, it creates trust. This leads to higher engagement and job satisfaction for your team. To Conant though, these were heart felt efforts to support his people. I think that’s so important. He was very deliberate with his choices. He very deliberately took his time, and spend it with the people on his team, and got to know them. Built up that trust, and then they were happy with where they worked, and they were happy to put in their best efforts. I think that’s something I want to explore more in just a minute, but first, let’s have a quick word from our sponsor.
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Okay, I want to get back to this idea of being very deliberate, because being deliberate with your time means you’re making conscious decisions about how you spend your time. Thinking about what you want to be doing, and why. That means that you’re not just shuffling from task to task, reacting to anything and everything
your environment throws at you. Think of how drained and frustrated you feel when you aren’t being deliberate with your time. It’s that moment when you look up from answering emails, or scrolling through social media, and you wonder where that last hour went.
Being deliberate with your time doesn’t mean always getting things done just for the sake of accomplishing something. It’s about letting yourself pay attention to the present moment, and experiencing it instead of rushing from task to task and appointment to appointment. The idea of living in the present doesn’t necessarily mean living each day as your last, and detaching from everything but the present. Different activities can relate to the present in different ways. There are two different kids of activities. Activities which aim to be completed, and activities without an end point.
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Activities without a completion include answering an email, reading an article, listening to this podcast, driving home from work. These are activities that aim to be finished, and once they are, they’re gone. Activities with no end point, like reflecting on your life, spending time with your family. These activities don’t aim to come to an
end, and they’re not incomplete, but they’re fully realized by being present in them. Basically, there’s no next step to complete for these activities.
If you care about spending time with your family or your friends, and that’s what you’re doing right now, you’re not on your way to completion, you’re already there in the moment, in the present. Living in the present means appreciating the
value of these types of activities in the here and now, not just the future memories. It’s caring about the process, not just the completion. Not everything is about the destination, or the end point. There really is a lot to be said for that journey that you’re on.
Now, this doesn’t mean denying the value of completion type activities either, or avoiding them. It’s recognizing we can’t only value completing tasks for the sake of completing them. It’s refusing to say, “Yes,” to everything, or trying to achieve everything. Being present can help us with decisions, like taking on new obligations. Too often we say, “Yes,” out of a sense of responsibility to others, even when we know we don’t have the time.
Presence allows us to consider new and old obligations, and it helps us decide whether they’re worthwhile, or just really distractions from our true purpose. Along with that, presence helps us make tough choices. Our brains like to go for the easy choice. Go for the efficiency, and focus on that short term comfort. When you take some time to be more present in your decision making process, it becomes so much easier to make those tough choices, to choose to invest in yourself, to look at your future self. All things that we’ve talked about on the podcast.
So, we really need to start being more present. To make this even easier for you, because I know it can be difficult in the busyness, and the hectic-ness of our days. It can be really hard to stop, so I’ve got a download for you. You know how I
love to give you a little bit of a spring board to help you get started. Just go to inkWELLPress.com/Podcast and head over to episode 76. The download will be waiting for you.
But, I want you to do this. With this download, I want you to reflect on what’s important to you. Knowing what’s important to you in the first place, is a key part of being present. When you know what’s important, you know where your time is best spent. Then you can truly live in the present without worrying about whether you’re spending your time well. Because, when you’re enjoying the moment, that is time
really well spent.
Ask yourself some questions to understand where you want to spend your time. Reflect on how you feel, and what you really want to focus on. I have some questions to help you with that, and they’re in the download. But, I also dive a little deeper in my YouTube video this week. If you want to know a little bit more about these questions, be sure to check that out.
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While you’re doing this, while you’re really focusing on becoming more present, I want you to really try to make your plans deliberately. Planning out your time so you can get important things done is a key part of being deliberate, and present. When you know the important things are planned out as part of your day, you can be present in completing them. When you’re spending your time how you want to spend it, you enjoy it so much more. Try having regular check in moments throughout the day. Put them on your calendar, it doesn’t really need to take more than five minutes at the very most. Just check in with yourself and ask how you’re feeling. Ask yourself if you’re motivated, if you’re engaged by the task, or if you’re distracted. And, if you’re really using your time the way you want.
These check ins don’t have to happen too often, just once or twice during your work day is fine. But, stepping back every so often helps you refocus in on your priorities, and it puts an end to that feeling that we need to be busy all day long. We really have to do away with this feeling that we can’t stop, that we can’t take a moment to breathe, that it’s not okay to take some time for you. Because, this is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Reflecting back, taking the time to look at where you’ve been throughout your day, and enjoying the moment of where you are right now.
Through presence, we can pay attention to our experiences in the broad sense, and also how we want to spend our time moment to moment. Through productivity, we can spend our time effectively, working towards those goals that are most important to us. Productivity paired with presence, is a recipe for a happier, fuller life. That is what I want for you.
You know, about a week after the event that I shared with you when I realized that Jack was no longer calling me mommy, a realization hit me. I was rushing into a store, and Kate was trailing behind me. I was hurrying, and I was walking way too fast. She called out, and she reached out her hand for mine. There had been a day, if I’m being totally honest, where this would have just exasperated me, because it would slow me down. I had to tent down that feeling just for a split second, because I realized, this could be the very last time she reaches for it. I slowed down my pace, I took her hand in mine, and I lived in the moment. And, I hope you will to.
Be present for those you love. Be present for the tasks, and events, the happenings that are all around you. There is so much goodness around us, and so often we do not stop to savor it, we do not take the time to take it all in. We have to stop running around, being busy. Enjoy the present. I hope this podcast episode has helped you realized the importance of slowing down, the importance of being present, and how you can start doing that for yourself.
I want to encourage you to grab that free download I’ve got for you. Simply go to inkWELLPress.com/Podcast, head to episode 76, and you can sign up to get your download. Now, the nice thing is, once you sign up for the download you’ll be part of our newsletter list, and anytime I have a free download, it’ll get sent to your inbox automatically. You don’t have to head over to the website, it’s sent to your inbox on the day the episode goes live. I want to remind you too, that I have a YouTube video that goes along with this episode. Where I dig into those three questions I think you
should ask yourself to be more present. Check that out over at inkWELLPress.com/ YouTube.
Next week in our episode we’re continuing talking about stumbling blocks, and turning them into starting blocks. I think that taking risks is a big stumbling block that many people deal with. As we get close to finishing out this season, I want to make sure we take time to address this. Next week is all about taking risks with intention. I hope you’ll join me next Tuesday. All right, until next time, have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox from inkWELL Press. To join Tanya’s free group, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/group.