When I was discussing spring-cleaning, I talked about staying focused on where you were working. This topic deserves its own discussion. How often have any of us started doing something and gotten distracted by something else? I cannot even count how many times in my life I have walked into a room with an intention, and when I get there I cannot recall what I was going to do. This is going to happen sometimes. Minimizing the frequency is worth striving for and can help keep us focused. If we are more focused, our productivity will only increase. Our time is spent more wisely and we might find more time to do the things that really matter to us, for instance, spending time with loved ones. With all the demands on our time and energy the thought of working on something else might be daunting, yet striving to be more mindful of ourselves will only benefit all other areas of our lives.
This is especially difficult for any of us that feel overwhelmed, hyper-aware of all the other things waiting for our attention and energy. Our minds almost work against us at these moments. That is why it takes work. We have to strive to be aware of where our minds are wandering. Then once we see that while we’re washing the pile of dishes that we’re worrying about the grocery shopping that needs to be done, we have to catch ourselves and stop. Decide that you will focus on washing the dishes and slow down. Chances are that your mind will return to thinking of other things before too long. The work continues, trying to catch yourself again and again to return to the present moment.
When you are able to be largely in the moment, the effects are noticeable. The tasks will be completed without sloppiness or errors. That alone decreases additional time and energy to correct them later. If we do it right the first time, we are actually done. It is important to guard against the temptation for perfection though. There is a balance between good enough and perfect. The last thing any of us want is to create more work for ourselves. If you keep finding particles of food on your dishes, this just adds to your workload. Look for a way to prevent this, whether you need to rinse your dishes before loading the dishwasher or slowing down as you wash them.
How much can you go, go, go before you are exhausted? It varies wildly between every person. I find that working yourself to that level of exhaustion is largely unnecessary. When we can maintain a certain degree of consistency in being in the moment, that exhaustion can be prevented. When I am doing things and can remain in the moment throughout, those tasks are completed and I do not feel drained, I feel refreshed. I finished the task, appreciating the effort I put in, and ready to move on to the next task.
Many of the things that we do regularly are never actually completely caught up. Dishes get used every day, laundry is always accumulating, the lawn will need mowing again next week (excepting the break winters can provide) and the job is never complete. Or so it can seem. One of the joys of being in the moment while you work on these tasks is that when you finish them, even just for that moment, you can appreciate the effort you put out. It is often easy to feel relieved by completing a big project, it can be more challenging to appreciate the little things that get accomplished. Being in the moment provides an acknowledgment to yourself for a job well done. You were present during the process and realize the value it holds even if you’ll have to do it again tomorrow, next week, or whenever.
When you can stay in your moments fairly consistently you will find time and energy that you never knew existed. Your work will be completed well the first time so you will not need to spend time rectifying any mistakes. This alone adds to the amount of energy you have for other things. Also, keeping your thoughts on your present moment curbs unnecessary energy being spent worrying or planning future events. Racing thoughts are surprisingly draining.
Striving to be in the moment applies to all aspects of life; from work to home, and can only benefit you in all these areas. If any of you struggle with more work than is necessary, I plead with you to strive to pause your mind and focus on the moment you are in right now. My greatest wish is that you do not create more work for yourself. Life improves exponentially when you can slow down. This is easier said than done and even I continue to catch myself and work on these skills.