After pondering for awhile, I found it was easiest to explore this idea by thinking of moving. In preparation, I go through each possession while packing and, if I have lived in one place long enough, I find myself discarding or giving away lots of things I no longer need. When in my new place, I spend time finding a place for everything and adding new furniture as needed. My house starts out clean, well-organized, and everything currently in it has been chosen by me to be there.
I think it was 3 years after we moved to our current home we decided to take out every box in our storage area and go through them. It was shocking to find we were missing some boxes with treasures. How did they disappear? It was equally shocking after we did such an extreme cleanse before moving here to find ourselves shedding another 30% of stuff. Perhaps there is a formula to guide decluttering such as - when settled in one place for a long time we should try to sort and shed 10% a year. I may embrace this one.
Once I had that image firmly in place I turned to my mind. My ADD mind is a lovely racing machine. My body isn't - a conflict that is hard to unify at times. While distracting, there is a joy when I'm thinking in full monkey mode (also known as SQUIRRELS). Intriguing random ideas pop up that inspire creativity and I can become a writing beast when I focus in on just one or two. The adrenalin rush is addictive.
For all creatives, when we are being bombarded with inspiration, it's hard to let go of a single idea. I love every time a creative thought that randomly pops up. I hang on to them feverishly and try to keep them all in my consciousness so I don't forget a single one. That makes it impossible to focus or and finish anything. It is like juggling while continuing to add one more, then one more, than one more item. Eventually you have too many to handle and you drop them all.
I have learned several ways to record ideas as they arise so I don't cling to them tightly in fear. I make notes in my phone, I text them to myself, I write them in blog drafts and have a notebook I jot in while listening to anything audio. Sometimes when I return to the idea days later, it has lost it's charm and I delete it. Other times an idea smiles at me from the mix and whispers, "Write about me. You are ready."
Whatever I end up settling on, it needs to be a way that allows me stop trying to keep juggling all the creative ideas and business tasks in my conscious mind. I need to confidently and firmly set down each down, then forget about them until I am ready to take action. This will allow me to focus my mind one hundred percent, without distraction, on a single task. I suspect, just like in my home, I will need to repeat the mental decluttering process on a regular basis. Clutter seems to regularly accumulate unconsciously.
The research is supports this approach. In Stolen Focus by Johann Hari, the author shares what science has discovered about interrupted focus and it's not good. In most places of business you are interrupted regularly by phone calls, emails and co-workers. Each time you are interrupted, the thought flow stops and has to be restarted again. This slows you down and makes you less affective at production. He says you aren’t really juggling, or multi-tasking, you are jumping from one task to the next, to the next over and over, slowing your production rate and causing you to lose accuracy and focus along the way.
And that, my friend, is the way to approach whatever your to do list holds. One small bite of the elephant after another. One step, one moment, one breath at a time.
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