Up to this point in the series, I’ve asked you to simply pay attention to the present moment.
Today I’d like to invite you to try a technique called Pomodoro.
As I mentioned in the last post, once we get into a habit of task surfing, it becomes more difficult to shift our brains into focus.
Attention is not an on/off switch. It’s more like a muscle and to keep it focused on one thing requires exercise. It also gets tired of concentrating and needs regular breaks.
The Pomodoro Practice:
- Choose one task on your to-do list, or choose one activity.
- Unless it is reading and answering email, close your email. Close all your windows on your computer that you don’t need for the task. Turn off the TV and commercial or talk radio (though music that will help you do the task is okay). Let the phone go to voicemail. Disable any computer or phone notifications that will interrupt–these begin the shift of attention away from one task to another. Basically, turn off or disable any technology which would alert you to other tasks.
- Set your phone, watch, or stove timer for 25 minutes.
- Do the activity for 25 minutes without shifting to any other task.
- At the end of the 25 minutes, stand up and stretch. Then decide if you will continue on that task for another 25 minutes, or shift to something else. Whatever you decide, do another 25 minute session on a task or activity.
Of course, certain jobs and responsibilities make removing all interruptions difficult, if not impossible.
If the present moment offers you an invitation to attend to something or someone else, then decide if you will shift attention.
If you do shift, go fully into paying attention to the new situation, rather than trying to split attention. (As an example, try not to work on the computer and have a conversation at the same time.)
Stop one task in order to fully pay attention to the next.
The key is to finding the balance between focusing and letting the present moment simply be what it is, with its unpredictability.