I don't know about you, but i am one of those people who makes endless 'to do' lists. I have an exquisite selection of notebooks from lovely stationary shops, and delight in filling them with details. Details of anything and everything.
Big, all encompassing details..where will i be this time next year, what will i be doing, and who with? Then monthly details, then weekly ones, then daily ones...and so it goes on. Don't get me wrong, planning and visualising a future has got me to where i am now, and my delightfully detailed lists have provided a structure to my personal journey that i can look back on with pride, and feel a sense of accomplishment.
But sometimes, the downside to living life by the book, so to speak, is the feeling of frustration and disappointment when those lists seem to grow and take on a life of their own. My lists get added to, they get longer and longer as i squeeze extra 'vital' jobs into the margins.What starts off as well intentioned, well organised order, becomes an impossible taskmaster, and suddenly, my attention has become like the Baileys in my glass when i have added too much ice...watery, diluted and lacks the impact i really wanted. By creating a never-ending list of jobs to do, and hoops for me to jump through, i am setting myself up for failure almost every day. I end up feeling out of control, unable to focus on anything, with the result that little gets done.
So, a few little experiments later, and there are some new, rather liberating ideas starting to take shape. Barring the unexpected emergencies that realistically crop up from time to time, i have given myself permission to recognise that my attention can only be directed at a limited number of tasks if i am to do them well.
Firstly,there are a maximum of three items that can claim my attention every day, over and above my daily commitments. What doesn't make it onto my 'list' that day, just doesn't get on, and that's that. Nothing else gets my attention before numbers one, two and three are done and dusted.
Secondly, other people's priorities do not become mine.
Thirdly, no more catastrophising. I don't take myself so seriously,that the consequences of not doing something takes on a global significance.
Lastly, i make 'I've done it' lists. These enlightening and self-affirming pats on the back are really very good for the soul! When you take time to notice every day what you have achieved, rather than what you haven't , it helps you to appreciate the impact you make, and focus on the positive. You start to see success in everything you do, you value yourself and your talents and you approach life in a calmer frame of mind.
This post is the last of my 'attention' for today. And you know, there are still enough hours left in the day, so who knows what i might choose to do with them.
Because that's what focussing your attention does for you- it gives you choices; and recognising that we have choices, however limited, puts us in control of our lives.