With so many voices trying to be heard, it’s hard to filter all of the information coming out way. Focusing on anything is a challenge so we end up focusing on nothing at all. Information overload causes us to shut down.
One of my colleagues as been promoting the virtues of “single tasking” as a way to focus her time. At first, I balked at the idea little. How could I ever do that? I'm known to have around twenty windows open at a time. I got to thinking, though, sometimes, I’m so overwhelmed by all that I could do that I fail to do anything at all. Could some form of single tasking help me with this problem? I decided to try a version of it with my writing.
I’ve repeatedly mentioned all my works in progress, the revisions I have to do, and the other ideas I have for stories. Where do I start? What can I finish? My new approach is to take things one month at a time. This month, I'm not attempting any new writing. I am using my coveting writing time for revisions. Next month, some friends and I are planning our own mini-Nano, so I will be writing new words. In April, I intend to work on a short story or two that I started a while back.
No, I can't hear all the voices when they come at me at once, nor can I complete every task I add to my to do list. But this form of focusing yields a powerful positive outcome: it gives me permission to ignore other items on my to do list for a period of time. In turn, that assuages any guilt I may harbor for not working on them. Before, if I spent more time revising, I'd beat myself up for not writing more. Now, I can sing the praises of my revision progress guilt-free.
Now, I know we can't apply this principle all the time to everything. I can't say, "Sorry boss, I'm choosing to tune you out this month in order to focus on my family." However, I can segment my time in a day or a week more clearly so that whatever I'm working on or whomever I'm listening to gets my full attention.
I am pretty sure I'd fail as a full time single-tasker, but in small doses, I'm finding real merit. Can you tune out the extra voices?