As a woman, I think I'm expected to be a good multi-tasker. But I'm not. When I bake something, I frequently forget about it the minute I put it in the oven. This has resulted in many burnt offerings and disappointments. Thank goodness for loud oven timers. And if you arrive a bit early and I'm still trying to work out the timing of everything needed for our lovely meal? Well, watch out - my attention to you (a good thing) will result in over- and under-cooked food for our bellies (a bad thing).
I'm easily distracted. I can go to the laundry room with the intent of putting in a load of laundry and returning DIRECTLY to my writing (which is my day job right now). But then I see an area that could be tidied, or read an interesting article on the back of a Cheerios box, or find a box of letters that I think I must sort NOW.
I need to tell myself "NO! Not right now, Rebecca!" and force myself to leave the scene.
I know that I can accomplish a lot when my focused is narrowed to one singular task. And I know that I can find more joy and enjoyment when I'm just thinking about one thing at a time. My mind starts to worry when it's flitting from one thing to the next. This Zen proverb speaks to me out of its simplicity:
When walking, walk. When eating, eat.Or this Italian one:
Often he [or she] who does too much does too little.Or this one:
If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.Speaking of 2 rabbits, there are 2 lovely backyard bunnies who entertain us some mornings. Here is one:
|I tried to get both in one photo, but couldn't - so I focused on one!|
OK. I get it. I have a monkey mind, often jumping from one thing to the next. I have to be intentional and try really hard to tune out the noise sometimes. It's about focusing on certain (positive, helpful) thoughts and comments, and letting go of the rest.
For me, focus is also about priorities. I need to resist the temptation to do more. I need to resist the temptation to consume more. To have less, do less, and then magically have more - more time, more space, more room for surprises. And sometimes it means choosing to focus on what gives me life - spending time with family and friends, creating music & artwork & gifts & food for others and with others, and having a wee bit of quiet time too.
This great article speaks about the price we pay when we multitask - particularly what our brains look like "on computers." The bursts of information through e-mail, phone calls, text messages, etc. is re-wiring our brains. Research shows that heavy multitaskers experience more stress, fractured thinking, and lack of focus.
I want to practice unitasking - to train my mind to have a singular focus. Not for the whole day, certainly - and maybe not even for one whole hour. But to be where I am, concentrated on one task at a time.
This text speaks to me of focus, and of paring back - having less to have more:
Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:32-34)I want my heart/treasure to be focused where it matters. Sometimes this will be on mundane tasks, and often on life-giving ones. I find that lists help me focus on work and mundane tasks. But do I need lists to focus on the important ones too? Like being fully present (and not scrolling through a list in my head) when a child is telling me a VERY long story?
Anyone have a good pattern for purse-making - ones that don't wear out? I may be up for a sewing project soon. OK. Getting off-track again.
How do you focus on one thing at a time, or on what really matters?