Not Time, But Attention, Attention, Attention

Productivity is a hot topic these days.

Whenever productivity is discussed, time management is the focus of it.

Let’s throw it out the window for now. It is more effective to think about it as attention management.

It’s more effective because of one basic premise — that at any given moment, our attention can only be of one thing.

When we talk about multi-tasking to increase productivity, we are doing multiple things within a given period of time, but we are not multi-tasking in each moment. It is not possible.

In geek terms, we are in fact only doing program switching or multi-threading, which is fake parallel processing, instead true parallel processing. To parallel process, you need multiple CPUs… well, each person is like one CPU, and one person cannot be more than one person.

Our attention cannot go two place.

You can try, but it is not possible.

Attention is the key in everything we do. To do something well, is to have your attention with it. Hence the phrase, “be one with what you do”.

When you are talking with someone, is your attention on that person? And that your attention is not on what you think about him. Not on what others had said about him. Not on what you are going to have for dinner. To communicate and truly connect, your attention is to be on that person.

When you are doing a task, is your attention on the task? And that your attention is not on how tough it is, how long it will take you, how frustrated you are, or worrying about not doing well. To do the task well and as efficient as possible, your attention is to be on that task.

Be one with what you do.

Pay attention in the moment.

When we don’t pay attention to what we do, or rather pay attention to everything else, physical or mental, but what we do, we do not do well and we make a mess of things.

Consequently, instead of how to allocate time, it makes more sense for us to pay attention to allocate where our attention goes. We can also have a good idea of our priorities, which when said is what we truly care, by seeing where our attention goes.

On a personal note, whenever I became aware that I am paying attention to my worries, frustrations, and other thoughts and emotions with the task on hand, I realize I am off track. Then I acknowledge, accept, and take note of those thoughts and emotions, and move my attention back on to my task on hand — things that are of priorities to me.

I end today with a story that goes something like this…

A serious student visited a Zen master and said, “Master, I know you are busy, so please write on this scroll some maxims of the highest wisdom for me to study.” And the master wrote, “Attention.”

The student was puzzled, and said, “I don’t understand.”

And the master wrote “Attention. Attention.”

“But all you’re doing is writing ‘attention’. Isn’t there anything else?”

And the master wrote it three times running: “Attention. Attention. Attention.”

Exasperated, the student demanded, “What do you mean by ‘attention’, anyway?!”

“Attention means attention,” the master replied.

Where does your attention go?

Originally posted 2009-06-28 21:25:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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