Friday, April 07, 2017

Wandering Attention

Two days ago the random thought came to me in the midst of my job “Is what you are doing critical to the task at hand?”

I have the rather dubious pleasure of becoming easily bored, and thus easily distracted. It never helps, of course, when things I am working on are not the most exciting in the world (like, for example, record review). I can sustain the effort for a while, and then my mind starts looking for other things to keep its interest.

But there was the question: “Is what you are doing critical to the task at hand?”

“Well of course not” I responded (to myself). “Following up on something more interesting has little to do with what I am actually doing.”

“Then why are you doing it?” came the response.

All of a sudden my mind started working in high gear, looking at my tendency to let myself get distracted from what I was currently doing. If I was honest, what I always distracted myself with was of lesser value than the item I was originally doing. Why is that, I wonder? And more importantly, how do I stop it?

So yesterday I took one step forward. I worked on what I was working on. If a thought wandered into my mind, boredom trying to get me to turn my head, I either politely ignored it or wrote it down on a piece of paper.

I do not know that I made a fantastic amount of progress. What I do know is that I got the task done more quickly than in my usual fashion. Which then caused me to have the thought of looking around at my life and realizing that I am often too distracted by what I should be doing with lesser things.

Call it focus. Call it attention to the task at hand. Call it not giving your lesser side quarter. Whatever it is, it made a difference.

Focus on the critical. First things first.


Rain said...

I get easily distracted too. If I find a task daunting, I will usually find every reason not to do it. Mind you, I don't work. But when I did work, I was so darned focused and I did one thing at a time, and then many things at the same time. I don't know how I did it. I guess I equated finishing the job well to getting paid or something, though I did feel pride in doing a complete and good job.

Now I have the fortune of only doing what I want. I mean, nobody wants to clean the oven, but that's part of my desire to be a homemaker, heck, call me a housewife, I'm no feminist! :) I love taking care of my home, so those things are just part of it.

For things I enjoy doing, like gardening and blogging, pet care, cooking and all that, I have tremendous focus.

I think that relaxing the mind helps a lot. I do a 15 minute guided meditation every day now and it helps me to feel relaxed so that the tasks that usually bring me stress and a desire to be distracted, are now fine for me to accomplish.

PeteForester1 said...

What you actually need to ask yourself is "Is the task at hand critical?"

People like us were wired to see everything at once; a skill to be soon seen as valuable...

kymber said...

TB - you have tremendous sills - with your family, with your thinking and writing, at your highland challenges, at your ichyryo (?) and at leaving very kind and thoughtful comments on other people's blogs. but - that must leave you feeling very distracted. no worries. figure out the point that your concentration level requires...and go from there. does that make sense?

sending you much love, as always! your friend,

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

That is a very good use of Occam's Razor Pete, and one that I have been using to good effect - perhaps not fully in the sense you mean it but at least partially. It is a very clarifying question.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I have a number of friends that do a guided meditation such as you have described and have benefited as well.

Multi-tasking never works, at least not for me nor almost anyone I have ever known. It is remarkable to me that this is still considered a desirable business trait. It only works in a non-critical environment, like "civilization". In the wilderness, multitasking might very well get someone killed.

No shame at all about a homemaker, at least not here.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

It does Kymber, thank you. I find I keep trying to fit myself into someone else's advice or mold. I know the level I hit when I am most productive - I just need to be more conscious of what that feels like.

As always, thank you for the kind words.

Much Love, TB

kymber said...

woops. that should have said "skills" but you got the meaning as i knew you would. TB - your problem is that you don't fit anyone else's mold - yer TB. and that is a precious thing to be. so just be you and do things the way that you do them. and know that other people admire TB's skills. xoxo

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Oh Kymber, the number of times I have omitted a letter or just used the wrong word is endless.

I will keep on just keeping on.

Much Love, TB