A powerful realization I’ve rediscovered the past few weeks which is actually very obvious when said but sometimes easy to overlook: there is only “right now”. And that’s it.
All too often I’ll find myself peering into my email inbox only to discover several projects and initiatives in need of my attention. And of course, while seeing those I’ll remember 4 or 5 other tasks that need my attention too. And perhaps a coworker might pop by or send an instant message with a request of some sort as well. Suddenly all these tasks are at the forefront of my brain and I can easily and quickly find myself feeling overwhelmed. And along with the feeling of being overwhelmed comes a lost sense loss of power, control, even ability. Sound familiar?
“There isn’t enough time!” “I can’t do it all at once!”
Mental paralysis sets in.
…And then the realization: My thoughts are actually right!
“There isn’t enough time” is true, and is always true, since there is only right now. And right now and right now. That’s it. Fortunately the right nows keep coming and fortunately too that creates a space choices in what we can do or focus our thoughts on.
“I can’t do it all at once” is actually very true too. We can’t focus on more than one thing at once. And if we can’t mentally focus on more than one thing at once, why do we pressure ourselves over it? If all we are capable to concentrate on at any one moment is one thing, why do we stress ourselves when we can’t? Its like stressing that our cars (at least at the time of this writing 😉 can’t fly. Starts to sound silly, doesn’t it?
Another thought that will enter my head is, “There’s too much to do!”
But when I realize how “There’s too much to do” is really a perspective, the sense of calm returns. The “too much” feeling happens when combining a number of wants and “to-do’s” into a (sometimes imaginary) compressed time frame. However, even when that time frame is real and tasks have a real due date, what is still unrealistic is the thinking that we’re capable to do it all at one time.
So the best thing to do? Focus on the present and do what you can in that moment.
Easier said than done perhaps, however I’ve found great power and increased productivity in my days, in my “nows,” when I remind myself of these views. Yes, I still list out my tasks and prioritize what I need to do first. But as I go about taking action on that list, I focus only on a particular task for that very moment and acknowledge that is truly all I can do. And in that moment of staying in the present, the sense of power, control and calm is restored, and I go about my day, moment to moment. Now to now.
Do you find yourself staying present?