We live in a marvelous age. We are connected, informed, productive. Any information we need to know, any process we need to learn, any product we need to buy is quite literally at our fingertips, available any hour of the day or night on our desktops, laptops, iPads, iPhones.
These same marvels make ours a harried and frantic age.
We are connected. E-mail inboxes, personal and professional, are slam-full all the time.
We are informed. Breaking news—so much of it disconcerting—flashes up instantly when we log on to check our slam-full inboxes.
We are productive. Our tools make it possible for us to tend to everyone and everything simultaneously, concurrently. Multi-tasking at ‘any hour of the day or night’ is always an option.
All these eminently beneficial opportunities make it a monumental task to concentrate.
Concentrate: to bring or draw to a common center or point of union; converge; direct toward one point; focus.
Want to be more productive? Accomplish your goals? Get to the end of a day and feel you have done more than just spin your wheels?
Be Where You Are.
Concentrate on the task or person at hand.
How often have you been reading, reading, reading only to get to the end of three or four pages and realize you do not remember a single word?
How many times have you had to ask for directions twice or more? Or forgotten an appointment or meeting altogether?
One reason we do not grasp information is because we are not concentrating when it is presented.
How can we learn to concentrate? To be where we are?
Here are some suggestions:
Don’t look back. There is not one among us with no regret. Some are more prone to be burdened with failure and missed opportunities than others. Some incidents in our lives are without doubt our “fault.” Some are not. In either circumstance, it still does no good to be constantly looking back, wondering “what if,” or punishing ourselves because of some decision we made in good faith with a clear conscience with all available information at hand.
In either case, you cannot change what has been done, what happened.
Don’t burden yourself with looking over your shoulder at your failures and mistakes.
No experience is wasted if you learn from it.
Don’t look ahead. By this statement, I do not mean “Don’t plan ahead.” I have three calendars within eyeshot at every moment I am home. One is color-coded—open to the month at hand— with all the pertinent information I need to operate well and efficiently for my family, my home, my finances, my circle of friends.
By “don’t look ahead,” I mean keep your eyes on today.
As Dale Carnegie so adequately stated: “If you want to avoid worry, do what Sir William Osler did: Live in ‘day-tight compartments.’ Don’t stew about the future. Just live each day until bedtime.”
Sir William Osler, by the way, was quoting Thomas Carlisle. “It is not our goal to see what lies dimly in the distance but to do what clearly lies at hand.”
As Jesus said: “Take no thought for tomorrow.”
Learning to concentrate is a monumental task, but it begins with this simple decision.
Be Where You Are.