6 Tools To Stay Present In a Distracted World

Cory Mazure | 18 Feb, 2023

There is nothing except the present moment.

Within this present moment, there are 11 million bits of information taken in by our bodily senses. Of this, we can only process 40-50 bits of these per second. That means in any given moment, we are experiencing less than 0.0004% of the world. 

With this limited processing power, we attempt to form memories. This is what we deem to be the past. But we really have no understanding of the past, because we have formed our perspective of it on insufficient data. 

In addition to that, it has been shown that memories can easily be manipulated or misremembered, with some researchers estimated 40% of our childhood memories contain falsehoods. 

What about the future? Well again, we are limited by our understanding of the present moment. Of all those bits of data, we process a select few, and try to do predictive analytics over the future. This is great and all, but how do you know if you are processing the most important data? 

In the present moment, there are certainly some stimuli which are more important than others. Unfortunately for us, we are entirely ignorant to this data, because we are not even present. In any given moment, we may be focused on something we regret from the past, or are anxious about in the future. Getting caught in our own head exploring these thoughts takes us out of the present moment. Of that limiting processing power, almost none is left to take in what is happening right in front of us. We get stuck living in our imagination and playing out past or future events, which very rarely does us any good. 

Hopefully we all know what it is like to be present. We do not experience it very often, but when we do, it is thrilling. It is when we feel the most alive, where all our fears are alleviated. Being present is only possible when there is nowhere else you would rather be than in that moment. There is no background noise of your thoughts. It is just you, and the less than 100 bits of data you are processing at that moment. 

Once we get a taste of this presence, it is only natural to want more of it. But how do we achieve it? I have put a lot of thought into the matter as I deem presence to be a prerequisite to life fulfillment. Looking through my life experience and reading a multitude of books on the topic, I have come to the conclusion there are 6 activities that you can introduce into your life today to bring more presence into it. 

Through this article, you will learn what these 6 activities are, why they are crucial to presence, and how you can incorporate them into your daily life. You can achieve presence with any of these tips, but by engaging in them all, you are setting yourself up for a life of fulfillment. 


Some may say meditation and mindfulness are two different things. I would not disagree, but I grouped them together for a reason. Both are about becoming more self aware about what is happening inside of your head. Through both practices, you are turning your perception inward. Instead of trying to analyze the stimulus from the outside world, you are exploring the inner world. Through meditation, often it will feature closing your eyes and feeling sensations in the body. When you are mindful, you are recognizing these sensations and shifting your perception to explore them. 

Both practices are powerful because they inform you of where you focus is. When you are mindful, your self awareness is elevated, and you can detect more easily what you are thinking about. You can act more intentionally by recognizing when you are lost in the world of thought, not being present, and shift your focus onto something else which is within the present moment. 

To incorporate these practices in your life, simply have the intention to be more self aware. Recognize where your focus is and if it is in the present moment. Over time you will become more aware of this world of thought that exists in our minds, and you will develop the skill to not engage in the expansion of these needless thoughts. I view meditation as a stepping stone towards more consistent mindfulness. If you have not meditated before, I recommend giving it a try for just a few minutes a day. It really does go a long way for increasing self awareness over where your focus is going. 

Both of these practices are heavily associated with our next tip, breathwork. 


Breathwork is one of the most confusing tips of them all. You may be thinking, I already know how to breathe! Well of course you know how to breathe, but you do not know how to do it properly. We never went to school to breathe because it is something that happens automatically and unconsciously. What you may not like to hear is that there are ways of breathing improperly, and you probably are suffering from these poor strategies. Shallow mouth breathing is one of the worst things you can do for your body. It limits the amount of oxygen you have in your bloodstream, and promotes a fight or flight response which takes us out of the present moment and into anxiety. As a counter to this improper way of breathing, try to become more intentional. Breathe in with your nose, and out with your mouth. Try to make your exhales longer than your inhales. This pace will shift you into a more relaxed state. Activate your diaphragm for deeper breathing to allow plenty of oxygen to fuel your brain. If you want to get really crazy, you can even do specific breathwork patterns like the Wim Hof method which have proven to be extremely effective at shutting down the default mode network of the brain. The default mode network is essentially the constant chatter and internal dialogue we experience each and every day. Through specific breathing exercises, we can limit this part of our brain and experience more presence. 

Breathwork also is combined with our previous tip of meditation and mindfulness to help establish presence. What I like to do when I am experiencing an over active mind is to shift my focus from my thoughts onto my breath. It is like a miniature reset which you can do over and over again to push yourself back into presence. 

There is a lot more to say about breathwork, but as a place to start, combine it with meditation and be more intentional with breathing deeply through your nose to experience more relaxation and a reduction in the overactive mind 

Challenging Work

Challenging work is quite self explanatory. It is anything that you have to truly engage yourself with to succeed. It is something outside your comfort zone, that is pushing you to learn and develop new skills. Pursuing challenging work helps you unlock the flow-like state of being present because of the task taking all of your mental bandwidth to perform properly. You can not be exploring some thoughts about what you are going to do this weekend while engaged in a difficult task, otherwise you will fail at the task. 

The goal is to find challenging tasks to engage in, but not tasks that are too challenging. If you pursue a task that far exceeds your abilities, you will become frustrated and exist in a state of angst. When anxious, we are not present, and our performance is diminished. Try to scale back the level of difficulty, but not too much. If you make a task too easy, it will not engage your mind enough. You will be able to think about other things and leave the present moment because the task does not require much critical thought. Like most things in life, you need to find the balance. The balance you are looking for is a task that is slightly outside your skill level, to exist inside the flow zone. When a task is slightly above your skill level, you have to push yourself to perform and be present. 

To achieve maximum engagement, you have to pursue tasks that you are interested in. If working on a task does not evoke any curiosity, you are going to become bored and not perceive it as something worth the effort. When looking for challenging work, ask yourself what you are curious about and how you can pursue learning that domain while still challenging yourself. Better yet, ask what skills will this challenge build for me? By identifying challenging work in alignment with your curiosities and dedicating time to do it, you will not only be more present but you will also develop new skills which will make you able to contribute more value to the world. 


Yoga is a powerful tool for presence because of how it shifts your focus internally. The potential of being lost in thought is mitigated when you are holding a difficult stretch or are being instructed to focus on the precise movements of your limbs. Yoga is well known for moving energy around the body and clearing up the mind. There are many different styles of yoga for you to explore, but at its roots it is simply an art of moving your body and establishing control. Class typically ends with a meditation and after a full hour of moving your body, the mind is at rest. Having the awareness over where your limbs are is extremely beneficial for any sport that requires motor control. Overall, it is a powerful practice that I can not recommend enough. 

To get started, there are countless guides on youtube. You can also look for a local studio to begin practicing. Just a few minutes at home each day is enough to improve your bodily awareness and shift your focus off your thoughts and onto the position of your body. 


Of all the tips I was going to include, journaling was the one that almost did not make the cut. It is not because I doubt the value in it, but it is because of its association with presence. To me, journaling is a time for reflection. When you are reflecting, you are not truly present. You are exploring your mind over past events and distilling lessons to reinforce better behavior in the future. After thinking through this tip more, I did realize that it plays an important role in presence. The reason is because journaling is essentially writing. Instead of writing on a keyboard with a high word per minute, journaling forces you to write slowly and be purposeful with the words you choose. Your mind can move a lot faster than your hand, so if you want to write something meaningful, you are going to need to slow down your mind to be at pace with your writing. This action of writing and having narrowed focus, proves itself to be a powerful presence practice. I find there to be something special about writing which really narrows my focus and leaves me feeling more clear headed. 

To get started, simply open up a clean piece of paper and have a writing utensil. Look through your day and try to identify the parts of it that felt meaningful. Continue to write with the intention to learn and be articulate with your words. 

Time In Nature 

Whenever I am in a lull, the first thing I do is engross myself into nature. Time in nature helps us detach from the concrete jungle that we normally exist in and leave all our problems behind. It gives us space and lets us feel the precious life on this planet. By spending time in nature, we get to hear the bird chirping, the sound of the wind moving the leaves, or the power of the ocean waves. It puts me in a state of awe at the systems that exist naturally. It helps you engage more of your senses, and leaves you feeling at peace. There should be no baggage from the past or expectations about the future that cloud your head space while in nature. Separating from developed society is the perfect way to bring more presence into your life. 

The reason I put this tip last is because you can stack many of the previous tips on top of this one. Meditation, yoga, breathwork, and journaling are all activities that are compatible with nature. It is an enhancer for all of these practices, but also can stand alone. 

There is no right way to enjoy nature. The only wrong way I know is to be addicted to technology. There is no need to bring your phone on a hike or to the beach. Treat time outdoors as time to detach from the digital world and become engrossed in the physical. If you are in the habit of using your digital pacifier everywhere you go, you certainly will struggle with the pursuit of presence. 


As you can see, there are a myriad of tools at your disposal for improving your ability to stay present. In my opinion, these all are tools that are usable each and every day. Remember, consistent effort will compound overtime and produce exponential results. Even if you just did these tips for a few minutes each day, you could see immense benefits. 

There is nothing like being present. It might be a battle to convince yourself to do these activities everyday, but I promise you that they deliver. 

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