“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
― Eckhart Tolle
Attention is Zero-Sum
To start my day with clear focus, I meditate for sixty minutes. Paying attention to my body sensations, I sometimes get distracted by the numerous thoughts. But as soon as I realize my concentration is diverted, I shift my awareness back to my mindfulness practice.
Even as I scan my body parts from head to toe, I can only concentrate on one area at a time. Whether it’s centering on my right arm or pinpointing on my left calf, I can’t focus on both at the same time.
My attention is limited to doing one thing.
To “multitask” and to have many activities happening simultaneously, I must dedicate time to start each one. Once a project is on autopilot, then I can shift my concentration on another assignment.
A prime example is when I am driving.
As a way to further my knowledge, I listen to podcasts during my commute. But there are times when I must direct my attention to strictly maneuvering my car, such as merging into another lane or making a turn at a stoplight.
During the process, I miss out on what is said on the radio show because I was intensively focused on driving the vehicle. As a result, I would have to rewind the podcast and listen to part of it again.
This is also displayed in conversations.
Whenever others are distracted in interactions by their thoughts or external sources, I can clearly sense it. For example, they may be looking down at their phones and nod as they pretend they’ve heard and understood what I just said.
But the truth is that they were too focused on their electronic device to pay attention to me.
Our awareness is zero-sum and can truly concentrate on one thing at a time.
Ways to Increase Focus and Productivity
Because your attention is finite, you can only focus on one task individually.
To increase your concentration, you can incorporate the Pomodoro method. This encompasses doing your work for twenty-minute intervals with five-minute breaks in between.
Knowing your engagement for an assignment has a fixed amount of time, you can give your current task your fullest attention. Afterward, you can spend your energy on something else.
As you repeat this process throughout the day, you’ll become extremely productive.
I typically have fifty-minute work intervals with ten-minute gaps. However, if I get into flow state, I keep going despite the allotted time has passed. That’s because I’m intensively focused on my work. By the time I am done, I’m always surprised with how much time has gone by.
To further increase your productivity, you can apply the two-minute rule. This means any tasks that can be completed under two-minutes, do it now.
Don’t make any reasons as to why it can be done later.
By doing so, you can use the forward momentum from these small wins to help you tackle bigger projects.
Examples may include meditating for one or two minutes. This could lead to prolonging your mindfulness practice, exercising, or reading a book.
That’s because motion creates emotions. And the more positive feelings you have after taking action, you’ll be more inclined to keep going.
Honor the Present Moment
Fully living in the now, you experience peace and enlivenment.
When you’re not dwelling in the past, you don’t associate your previous sadness with your history. Otherwise, your burdens of the past, which is your current consciousness, will dictate your future.
But when you focus on the now, all your unhappiness dissolves and you’ll live with more joy and ease.
However, as soon as you diverge from the present moment, every task you do becomes impaired and the level of quality in your work deteriorates.
To end your current pain, you must demonstrate full acceptance of what life is now. To fight it, you create resistance towards that part of your life.
That’s detrimental to your emotional health.
Your mind naturally wants to combat against the now because it loathes discomfort. But if you can separate yourself from your egoic mind, then you can choose to act in ways that honor reality, which will free you from agony and torment.
Because your attention is zero-sum, you can only truly focus on one task at a time.
Understanding this fact, you can hone your concentration by fully dedicating on a single engagement. As a result, you’ll become more efficient and productive.
By honoring the present moment, you can be fully immersed in the now. By doing so, you don’t dwell on the past nor worry about the future.
You are at peace.
Please share this article with anyone who you think may find it useful.
If you have any questions and/or comments on attention, please leave a comment below or send me an email.
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