If you are a person who constantly needs to multi-task or has several jobs to get done every day, then you are no different. Most people are stuck in the same situation, my friend (quarantined or not).
We have evolved into an intelligent species and are fast advancing with technologies that are smarter than us. However, in the haste to react on everything and everyone around us, we do not pause and realize that we are actually ignoring the thoughts in our own minds.
To explain this better I am going to share my personal experience of how I came across this daunting realization:
I am a person who is detail-oriented and overthinks almost everything. So naturally, I worked hard to put all my ideas and plans into action by bending over backward every day. Soon I caught myself spinning ideas around but never formulating them or never finding enough time to get all the work done. Basically, when I ended up always opening a long list of tabs on my laptop and never completed reading them each day, putting my laptop on sleep mode and never shutting it down, having a ‘reading backlog’ and never getting a fresh start, I had it!
So many ideas just came and vanished, and stopped me from reaching my full potential because I wasn’t able to manage my time effectively. I made several attempts to make realistic schedules or marked out calendars in order to make sure my personal goals were materialized. But I found there was a deeper issue at hand.
Here’s a story:
NASA sent it’s special mission astronaut John Grunsfled to repair the Hubble telescope in space which required him to remove 32 screws. A task which was described by him as ‘ doing brain surgery in the dark while wearing oven mitts!’ So what got him through this meticulously difficult task? Well, John concentrated on each screw as if it were just the one that he has to work on. That means he did not count how many screws were done or left to be removed. Every single time he focused on only the one screw that he had to remove in space while wearing big gloves. And this worked. He ended up successfully repairing the Hubble telescope only because he managed to set his attention span to the task at hand.
So what can we do to increase our attention span and be more productive?
- Be present ‘in the moment’ instead of wandering in the past or future.
- Increase the strength of your focus gradually starting with shorter time spans.
- Multi-tasking is good, but focusing on one task at a time boosts your creativity and productivity.
- Create a ‘to-do’ list for each day to get things done.
- Practice mindfulness throughout the day by observing your thoughts and actions.
- Read long stuff slowly, repeatedly if required.
- Stay curious, especially while pursuing any new endeavor.
- Take regular breaks from work and other tasks, and do nothing (for a while 🙂 ).
Think of your mind as a muscle. Your physical muscles and your attention “muscles” both have a limited amount of strength at any given time. Their stamina can grow through activity, but over-exerting them may also result in fatigue.
I hope you find this helpful. Enjoy The Hustle!