Permission to Focus

I’ve been known to sit down with the intention of reading a book to my children, only to get right back up because I just remembered I needed to pull something out of the freezer for dinner. And while I’m in the kitchen, let me just wash those dishes in the sink. Except that, now that I’m thinking about things that need to be done, I should really respond to that e-mail my sister sent last week. Oh, and while I’m there, I’ll just poke my head into Facebook for a moment and see what’s up.

Five minutes later I’ve got a couple of confused little boys by my side wondering why I’m sitting at the computer when I told them I was going to read them a story. And I’m wondering the same thing. How did I get here? 

In order to combat this problem, I’ve given myself permission to do one thing at a time. I’ve enjoyed it. It feels good.

It feels especially good when I am looking down my list of things to do and realizing that because I have actually focused, concentrated, and put my mind to seeing something through to the end, I’ve managed to  . . . wait for it  . . . get things done. It’s a pretty great feeling. And when I don’t finish something right away, it’s not because I got distracted and walked away in the middle of it, it’s because I reached the end of what I can do at the moment. The next step has to wait.

The odd thing (or maybe not so odd) is that even though my list feels like it stretches from here to January, and I need to get it all done by tomorrow night, I feel less frazzled and frantic than I do when I have very little to do and plenty of time to do it in.

It’s freeing, my friends, to start working on something (whether it be reading a stack of books for storytime or planning how we’re going to fit a couple of bunk beds and a crib in a room the size of a walk-in closet) and be able to say, “This is what I’m doing now. That is going to have to wait.”

This may be old news to some of you. Maybe even all of you. But it’s been a revelation to me, and it’s saved my December. 

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1 Comment

  1. I’m right with you on the ‘do it now while I’m thinking of it or else I’ll forget.’ Sometimes I’ll ask my family to remind me to, for example, take the dinner out of the freezer. They’ll try to be funny and remind me a second after I asked them, not the optimal reminder time, but sometimes just the act of saying it out loud will help me remember. Other times, I try to visualize myself putting down the book and walking to the freezer. Good luck.


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