Monday, January 21, 2008

Ooh, look! Bright and shiny!

I'm struggling a lot with focus lately. I seem to have completely lost my ability to multi-task, or even single-task, with any degree of success. I get distracted really easily -- Ooh, look! Bright and shiny! -- and don't always make it back to whatever I was working on originally. I used to need music on in the background to help me concentrate -- a sort of white noise to cover up all the real noises happening around me -- but now I find myself getting sucked into a song, turning it up so I can really listen to it, wanting it to be in the foreground of my attention instead.

While my productivity has dropped to an all-time low, I don't think this is a bad thing, really. It's like I'm reprogramming my brain to process things one-at-a-time when the corporate world had me processed on multiple input. My last job was especially ADD-inducing, with everyone on email, IM, the phone, and talking to someone at the next desk all at the same time. Every now and again I wanted to bury my head under my arms and scream. But habits are hard to break, and even now I have an obscene number of browser windows open (19, including this one) and I find it difficult to sit here and just type, focus on what I'm writing, without going and refreshing all of those windows to see if anything requires my attention.

There is a definite art to actually staying in the moment, with your mind on a single point of focus. Gurus and mystics have been talking about this one-mind concept for centuries, possibly millennia, and it doesn't sound so difficult in theory, but man is it ever hard to do in practice. I have about a hundred thousand things to do today (okay, really it's probably about a dozen, but who's counting) and I get antsy, wanting to cross things off the list, instead of truly paying attention to what I'm doing in the moment. The irony is, my inability to sit still on days like today keeps me from finishing anything that I've started and I feel like I'm behind schedule the entire day. If I could just be completely in the moment with what I am doing RIGHT NOW and focus my entire attention on it, just think how quickly I would be able to complete that task. I'd be crossing things off my list left and right, relaxed and in the flow, trusting in my inherent ability to get things done instead of feeling anxious about it and getting in my own way.

As I sit here writing, resisting the urge to multi-task, I can feel myself relaxing. It feels like this concept of truly paying attention, truly staying in the moment is sinking in, and I can definitely feel it resonating within me, the core of my being saying Yes, you're getting it, thank you. So let me experiment with this today, moving on to my next task and focusing on it with the same attention I've been giving this, taking things one at a time, rejoicing in each individually completed task. Wish me luck. Namaste.

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