WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE: TRYING TO FOCUS ON a particular task with an urgent deadline, you’re motivated to do so, but your mind is wandering or you’re easily distracted. Despite your best efforts and intentions, your life and career are not progressing the way you want it to.
In this digital world and information overload age, just being able to focus and concentrate is the most challenging struggle. In today’s always-connected world, distractions and interruptions are always just a click away.
Consider this: A study shows that the average human attention span has decreased from 12 seconds in the early 2000s, to eight seconds today. By the way, it has been observed that goldfish have a 9-second attention span.
“Humans have an attention span shorter than a goldfish.” Headlines such as this reflect the new reality.
Interesting Read: Improve Focus Through Meditation.
What is the solution?
Don’t worry, there is a solution found in the increasingly popular Japanese technique that is becoming much needed in today’s busy and disruptive world. It’s called “Ichigyo Zammai.”
The Japanese concept of Ichigyo-Zammai is an ancient method of staying in the present. Its roots are in the Zen culture and translate into “full concentration on a single act.” Zen Master Sunryu Suzuki, introduced and popularized this term for the first time in his book, “Beginner’s Mind.”
Ichigyo Zammai’s theory doesn’t say anything complicated.
One Thing at a Time.
It just says that while drinking tea or coffee, enjoy every sip as if it’s the last sip; while eating, relish every bite as if you have found a treasure; while brushing your teeth feel the soft touch; while standing under the shower, feel the coolness of the drops of water falling; while talking to someone give them full attention as if you’re meeting them for the last time; while answering emails, close all open tabs and windows, and then fully focus on the response.
Whatever you do give it that intensity, totality, and depth. Be available and fully present in the moment. Live in the moment and live in the present.
Is it easy? Let me be brutally honest! No, it is one of the hardest things to do.
Let me ask you, how many times have looked around while reading this blog? Are you sure that you are fully into the article or your restless mind is dancing from one thought to another? See, I told you it is one of the most difficult things to do.
Living in the present has always been a challenge for human beings. Want some more proof.
Do an honest audit?
Think about times when you are:
in a meeting at the office, but the mind is thinking about the evening meal.
Talking to someone, but your eyes are glued to your smartphone screen.
Working on the computer and jumping from one tab to another in the browser.
In the washroom, but still busy on your mobile.
Doing the current task, but thinking about the next activity.
Studying, but thinking about the next cricket match.
Walking in the garden, but the mind is wandering somewhere else.
You’ll realize that you are rarely in the moment while performing daily activities. In fact, unintentionally you’re running on autopilot mode.
Thanks to your smartphones and other digital distractions, your monkey mind has become super efficient in jumping from one thought to another with zero focus. Your mind always wonders either in the past or the future.
Living in the past or future has become your mind’s default setting though you are designed to live in the present.
Everything comes at a price: You end up stressed, anxious, fearful, depressed, and procrastinating.
Related Must Read: Scientific Ways to Beat Stress.
Steps to Practice Ichigyo Zammai.
- Start your day by creating a to-do list. List all the tasks that you want to accomplish that day.
- Prioritize the list in order of importance and mark the importance of the task with a priority from A (very important) to E (unimportant).
- Legendary Jazz singer Duke Ellington once said, “I don’t need time. I need a deadline.” Use this statement as a guiding tool and set a deadline for all your tasks.
- When you begin an activity, give it full attention and commit to doing nothing else but the present activity.
- Stay away from distractions, especially the smartphone. When you see yourself getting distracted and your attention drifting away, then be alert and aware. Bring your focus back to the task at hand and again become fully present and engaged.
- Empty your mind cup of any preconceived ideas about the task. Be curious as you perform the task and allow things to unfold as you proceed.
- If possible, finish the work you are engaged in completely, before moving on to the next activity.
- Give importance to every work you do and treat them with full respect.
- Take pleasure and joy in even the smallest of activities. If you’re walking around in nature, then do not think or worry about other things in life. Be curious and look at the trees, flowers, wind, and things around you.
Amazing Read:- Heavy Duty Time Scheduling Techniques.
The Bottom Line.
Put all your focus power into one task at a time, and observe what happens. Try it and see for yourself. As you give full attention to each activity, you’ll become more aware. You’ll begin to appreciate every object, every person, everything around you.
So, the next time you are drinking tea, just feel the warmth of the team on the fingers holding the cup, feel the pungent aroma of tea while inhaling, feel the steam rising from the cup, and then slowly cherish the pleasure of sipping it. Just try this once and see the difference. This will be just the beginning.
If you can submerge yourself fully in such a thing as drinking tea, then imagine how easy it will be for you to do the same for other important things or activities.
Remember this: the present moment needs you and you need the present moment. Learn to live in the present.
Remember this: It is the way of living, not just a habit that should be visible in every day-to-day activity. Just practice this and very soon you will realize that there is nothing more beautiful and pleasant than living in the present.
Now it’s your turn. Please connect by commenting on your take on this subject and share if you have any other techniques to improve focus.