My life is a huge mess. Everyday, I would jump from one meeting to another. Not to mention a barrage of e-mails with different issues from various projects. Sometimes, I come out from meetings wondering what I have discussed or what the meeting was all about.
There are all kinds of documents to fill up, project charter, status update report, risk management document, issue log etc… I have even caught myself sending updates to the wrong projects.
It is a vicious cycle. The more I do, the more things I need to do, the more stressed I become.
After finishing work, I have to attend other personal matters. Family commitments. Children issues. Financial challenges etc… I was operating a maximum capacity by going nowhere.
My mentor gave me this advice, “Next ten days, make yourself the best cup of coffee that you know how to make.”
Every morning for the last ten days, I would prepare hot water, coffee powder, sugar, and cream. What I was looking for is not the best tasting cup of coffee but the best effort.
The first couple of days, I did not think too much about making coffee. I was just going through the usual autopilot. I just want to get it done so that I can get back to my work.
After four days, I was able to pay more attention to making coffee. As the days progresses, my concentration got slightly better. Soon the concentration begin to spread to my work. I was able to concentrate one task at a time without having other thoughts behind my head.
That real problem was not the task at hand, but my concentration. If I am doing one task, I am already planning or wondering about the second task. Looking back, many of my challenges came from correcting mistakes that I have.
If I cannot afford the time to correct my mistakes, I should get it correct from the start.
Try this to have a better concentration
Just do one thing a day to your best effort by putting all your concentration on it. It does not need to be making coffee. It could be concentrating on every bite of your breakfast. Concentrating on how you brush your teeth, by feeling how the toothbrush brushes against your teeth. The task does not have to be special or unique but a something that you would do everyday.
Be prepared to be frustrated. The first few times will be frustrating and disappointing. With enough practice, your concentration will be better and soon it will spread to the rest of your day.
Why not just dive straight into work and focus? Obviously, it is possible. However, the whole process can be intimidating especially we have the habit of doing many things at the same time.
In closing, even if you feel that you cannot get the concentration that you need. The very least, you can tell yourself no matter how bad was the day, you still managed to get one thing done with your best effort.
Further reading: Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again