I am a guilty multi-tasker. It’s terrible, and I mean bad.
Years ago, I was an executive director of a non-profit and was continually working on multiple projects at one time.
A colleague and friend called me one morning at my office, and before I could even say ‘Hi,” He said, “What are you doing right now?” I answered, “Multi-tasking, like always.” His response, “STOP!!!”.
He had just seen a story on the morning news about the dangers of multitasking. According to the report, studies showed that people who multitasked were more likely to suffer from early-onset dementia. At that moment, I looked at my computer browser, and I had 15 windows up all at once.
Since that conversation, which I think about often, I haven’t tamed the multitasking monster. I’ve tried time-blocking, the Pomodoro method, turning off notifications, eliminating the little red alerts on my iPhone. All to no avail. I haven’t figured out how to truly focus on one thing.
When I read the title of this chapter and saw the word focus, the first thing I thought is, “Oh, I am really screwed.” Focus is my enemy. I just cannot win the focus game.
Lucky for me, this was not what I thought it was going to be.
The chapter is about the act of focusing on the beliefs and thoughts that bring joy, success, and peace. What we focus on, we create more of, so focusing on those things is imperative.
By nature, I have been a person who always believed that everything would work itself out and often ignored rising problems. Several years ago, with my credit in terrible condition, I decided to focus on money matters.
After buying and furnishing my house, my credit utilization was incredibly high. I was somewhat responsible, paying my bills on time but rarely making more than the minimum payment.
To get a grasp of my finances, I built a simple spreadsheet with all my credit accounts. I logged the card’s name, credit amount, APR, 30% limit, balance, and available credit. I downloaded CreditKarma and started tracking regularly. In the past two years, I’ve gone from 89% to 33% utilization. I am almost there. All it took was for me to focus just a little. To pay attention to how I was living my life and make how I spent money matter.
I’m applying the same concept to getting back in shape and losing the weight I need to feel good about myself again. I’m learning to focus on my body and my health in a way that isn’t obsessive or ego-driven but giving it the attention it needs to improve. By committing to daily yoga and meditation and logging the food that I eat, I have centered my focus on getting well and building better habits to keep me well.
I never thought I would be able to log my meals or systematically watch my money. I saw those tasks as superfluous and time-wasting. I thought I could handle my life’s issues organically, just go with the flow. The truth is, if something matters, it requires at least a little focused effort.
I still have so much to learn and so much work to do to create the life I truly want. But I am here and learning and paying attention to what I believe matters. I guess that’s more than half the battle.