Feeling scattered? Pulled from here to there? Not enough time for…? Do things faster? “To do” list getting longer?
Why is it so difficult for us to focus on one thing at a time? This has been one of my biggest challenges in life. Anxiety sets in and I get sidetracked on projects.
“Being conscious of engaging fully in one task at a time” is a mindfulness practice. This takes practice, attentiveness, and a commitment to change. My way to deal with this was to try to do more, work longer hours, shorten lunch time or get up earlier. I realized this was delusional thinking. It was nothing more than a trap. I was fencing myself into a place that I did not enjoy.
What do I enjoy? Flow, space, acceptance, trust that all will work out, engagement, creativity, and clear mindedness. Now, I recognize these traits will not always be present for me. But, this is what I strive for in my daily life which creates space for me to be attentive to my family, friends, clients, and the work I’ve chosen to do.
So, how can one move to “being conscious of engaging fully in one task at a time?”
- Move from resistance to acceptance. This requires a changed mindset. Instead of giving in to emotional anxiety, I consciously move to acceptance of what I’m experiencing. Yes, I have lots of things to do, but I’ll get them done.
- Stop multitasking. Reading email while trying to work on projects is my biggest side tracker of staying focused. I have to consciously shut off email for a period of time to focus on what needs to be done.
- Be present. When I’m with someone or working on a project or outside in the yard, I consciously tell myself that all that matters is I’m totally present in this situation. I have to consciously shove stuff out of my mind to create space to be present with whatever I’m doing.
- Find quiet time in my day. Every morning, I make space for reflective reading and quiet meditative centering. If I can, I’ll find 10 minutes during the day to just shut my eyes and quiet my heart and mind.
- When “monkey brain” attacks, I now welcome it vs. fighting it. I receive it differently as a blessing from my brain. In the past, I reacted to it and tried to shut my brain down. That doesn’t work for me. I had to change from reactive to responsive.
Now, this takes time to learn. Some days are better than others – acceptance of what is. So, take a baby step – What’s the one small shift that would have a larger impact in your life? Stop fencing yourself in to a place that sucks energy out of you. Move from resistance to acceptance.
(Adapted from Pause – 52 Ways To Shift Any Outcome In Less Than A Minute: Practical Mindfulness For Leaders by Inspired Mastery, 2011)
To learn more about mindfulness practices, I’m offering a Spring Retreat: Mindfulness For One’s Life on May 7. I hope you can join me with a number of others who have already registered.