It was a Sunday, a day I’d planned to relax and do as little as I could get away with. There were good programs and movies on, and I wanted to slounge (sleep and lounge) the whole day after having a hectic couple of weeks, not to mention a hurricane I’d had to prepare for earlier that week. That anticipated relaxation was not what happened, though. My finger kept moving to the button on the remote. I’d watch one channel for a few minutes, flip to another channel for a few minutes, re-check the guide – and on and on that went. I felt frustration mounting after hours of doing this and shouted inside my head, “Pick one and commit!” And that was my Ah-ha moment.
Sometimes we go along through our days and don’t realize when some things are building up, because they build up so gradually. They slide into our life between what we need to focus on, so we notice them but don’t really see what they’re doing to us. In my case it was interruptions – an unusually high number of them that drew my energy from me like a thin beverage through a straw.
We’ve learned (thank goodness) that multi-tasking is ineffectual and wearying. We know that it’s best to focus for 45, 50, or 60 minutes on one and only one task (or less, if less time is needed), and leave e-mail to be checked and phone calls to be made during a 5- to 10-minute break between focus segments or as a planned segment. I had so many interruptions happening; and, yes, they frustrated me, but I didn’t realize the overall effect they were having on me.
Also, the more I fumed about the interruptions the more interruptions I got – a basic Law of Attraction principle I temporarily forgot to recall. Some interruptions could be dealt with, but some had to be allowed for valid reasons. But this stream of interruptions threw me into a pattern of interrupting myself, including (or especially) by dwelling on the fact of the interruptions and the frustration I was feeling. As a result, things I wanted to get done weren’t getting done or were getting done in dribbles and bits. And, frankly, I was feeling not only frustrated but also mentally exhausted by all of it. Yes, interruptions were happening, but I was doing the rest of it to myself.
After my Ah-ha moment, I realized that some interruptions are just going to happen. But I also realized that focus equals commitment. I decided that no matter how many interruptions I got (the ones I had a responsibility to allow, that is) I was going to choose to focus on what I needed and wanted to get done, between interruptions. If an interruption needed my attention, I took care of it, if that was possible at that moment, then let it go. If it had to be attended to later, I let it go until it was time to focus on it. This decision helped me then, but it has continued to help me relax when an interruption happens, rather than tense up as I had been. And, I’ve stopped interrupting myself with unproductive mulling.
That decision also powered up my commitment to get going on a project that was important to me and going nowhere fast. The decision also had the understandable Law of Attraction result of calming down the number of interruptions. A real bonus!
As I said, some interruptions are ones you may have to allow. Others aren’t. You want to deal with or manage or eliminate the ones you don’t have to allow because the frustration that builds isn’t fun. It causes you to start thinking not so well about yourself (not to mention that you stew in some negative emotion instead of shine in creative or productive, fulfilling efficiency), when the fix isn’t all that complicated, in most cases. It’s in recognizing what needs to be fixed or shifted that’s the trick. Another way to say this is: trace the effect back to the real cause and do what you can about it, whether that’s an action or an attitude adjustment.
Interruptions lead us into distraction. Distraction keeps us from paying attention. And this impacts our ability to function, learn, and grow in the short term and long term. It causes mishaps and errors. It causes us to live from where we are in our unfocused activity-based mindset rather than from who we are: individuals who can make conscious choices for ourselves and in our best interests.
Lack of focus causes us to miss a lot because we’re not giving anything our full attention. We feel disconnected from – and even disinterested in – anything (and anyone) we don’t give the appropriate amount of our attention to. If we plant “seeds”, as I did with the project that’s important to me, we need focus to help it grow and be strong. That’s the way it is for any seed. Commitment guides focus. Focus guides actions. No focus, no action. No action, no progress or results. It’s that simple.
We can decide to get focused instead of dwelling on not being so. We can decide to re-evaluate our commitment to what we want to accomplish. As soon as I decided that I would focus no matter how many interruptions happened, not only did the interruptions ease up but my energy went up, my enthusiasm went up, and my commitment to my project motivated me. My commitment to myself and my life motivated me. I felt enlivened, creative, and on purpose.
-What commitments have you made that aren’t receiving your focus in appropriate measure at appropriate times?
-Are you over-committed (even the best juggler can juggle only so many items at one time)?
-Are you under-committed (which can cause you to feel unfocused from lack of a specific direction to move forward in)?
-Do your commitments inspire you?
-Is it time to reassess the commitments you’ve made, or the ones you want to but haven’t as yet?
Some messages come to you through another doorway rather than the direct entrance, like my seeming inability to commit to one channel at a time and to relax. You might want to see if some of your experiences are trying to show you something about what’s happening with your focus, energy, and commitment. It’s a good practice.
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer
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