N. Shannon Walker

Do What You're Doing (not something else.)

By N. Shannon Walker

N. Shannon Walker ake the leaves while you're raking the leaves. Sweep the floor while you're sweeping the floor.

Many of us are constantly going in a hundred different directions. With so much to do every day it can be challenging to focus on specific tasks, especially if the particular task you're trying to focus on is something you'd rather not be doing. Since you can only focus on one thing at a time, you may find your mind wandering to other tasks, the ones that you're not doing and that "need" to be done. This creates anxiety which inevitably results in everything taking too long and possibly not getting done properly.

The lack of focus you may be experiencing is no doubt multiplied by all the internet options we have available today. You may feel a continuous nagging desire to check your email, look at Twitter, check out the latest political scandal, and on and on.

Do what you're doing while you're doing it. This is an eastern concept that can be extremely difficult to master; in fact one can spend a lifetime working at it and still require more practice.

While you are working on a task (such as I am as I'm writing this article) when your mind begins to wander, make a continuous effort to bring your realm of awareness back to what it is that you are doing. As I mentioned above this is much easier said than done, especially when you are juggling a full schedule and you seem to be falling behind on everything. Thoughts of all the things you're not doing will continuously attempt to capture your awareness like noisy monkeys with cymbals, each clamoring for its own attention. Gently push them out of your mind as they arrive and bring your focus back to the task upon which you are working.

What you will surely find is that focusing exclusively upon the task you are doing will make it more rewarding, you'll do a better job, and you will finish it much faster than you otherwise would have. In fact, you may be somewhat amazed at how much more you enjoy working in this manner.

A concentration technique that I enjoy is to pretend that someone is watching you as you work. Watching not like a supervisor who makes you feel as though you need to pretend to be busy, rather as someone who is genuinely interested in what it is that you are doing. If someone really was watching you, you no doubt would perform your task in a meticulous, efficient, and focused manner until it was completed.

Soft music has an amazing ability to quiet your mind and help you to focus on what you are doing. It should be instrumental studio-recorded music so that it doesn't compete for attention with your work. Catchy tunes, powerful symphonies, and popular songs with lyrics that make you want to sing along will all defeat the purpose and you will find yourself listening to the music rather than working.

If you do need to break and work on something else, leave the partially finished task at a comfortable resting point and completely break away from it. This way you can focus entirely on your next task, leaving the prior one by itself for the time being...

Starting right now, focus on each of your tasks individually and entirely. Do this consciously for several weeks until it begins to become a habit, and you will be astonished at the results.

N. Shannon Walker
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