Invasion of Thoughts

Sitting at a coffee shop this morning, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with how many thoughts were able to enter my mind within a very short span.  Joining me for the cup of coffee, as most mornings, was my to-do list, a book, my cell phone, and of course the source of more information overload than anything in my possession, my laptop.  I couldn’t help but ask, why do I have all of these, and more importantly why are they all in my stream of consciousness at once?

Now, technology has wonderful qualities that I certainly take advantage of, however can certainly challenge the mindful lifestyle.  Being aware of what is around you and bringing ultimate focus to what is in the present is a practice that I have talked about before that is honed over time, however, it is tested as you sit with so many potential distractions around you.  It is all too easy to be working on one project while thinking about the next.

As we find more and more to bring presence to throughout the day, we may find ourselves in a mode of thinking more than doing.  I recently found my to-do list growing and my ability to cross the items off shrinking as I spent more time wrapped in all that I wasn’t doing vs. what I was.  Once you bring to consciousness this challenge, you can then ask, “How do I break this cycle?”  I have two main ways that I break this pattern of production-hindering thoughts.

First, it starts with a plan.  Early in my day I begin laying out the specific tasks I wish to accomplish and that I know will fit within the parameters of the day.  Additionally this daily list is best if separate from any longer full list of tasks I may keep.  With this I am able to block out or more realistically let thoughts of other tasks come and pass through.  This does not mean however you form a rigid tunnel vision to your plan or you will move too far to the other extreme and lose sight of the beautiful opportunities that come up throughout the day for unplanned interactions and transmissions of the divine.  Set the stage yet let the scene develop itself for a balanced experience that will help lower anxieties and expectations.

The second facet of this approach is disconnecting.  Be sure to take the time to think through what you need, and challenge why you need it.  Does your cell phone HAVE to be with you and on at all times, or can it be placed on mute in your bag?  If you are working on your computer, do you need to be online, getting alerts of new emails, listening to music?  If you struggle with this, then ask yourself if the task you are working on deserves your full attention.  If it does not, then the next question should be if there is a task you should be working on then that does deserve full attention.

Take time to observing mindfully throughout a given day and acknowledge when you are being distracted or even further when you are distracted from a distraction!  If you are not, then you have found you are in a wonderful place.  If you are wandering, don’t judge as you are far from alone, then try to approach your day from a standpoint of small, in the moment chunks, turn off distractions when possible, and when thoughts outside of what you are working on in the moment come, don’t dwell on them, let them pass to minimize their impact on your day.  My production has elevated just through this process and keeps my focus on the task at hand.

If you have other thoughts on keeping focus, removing distractions, or have specific situations you struggle with, share them, we can all benefit from sharing of our experiences.

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One thought on “Invasion of Thoughts

  1. I love this post! I have struggled with distractions as well and find it challenging to focus on the task at hand. I find if I shut my phone off I am much more focused.

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