There’s this thing I’ve been hearing a lot from creative friends over the last few weeks. It goes something like: “I’m trying to get back to work, but I just can’t focus with everything that’s going on in the world.”
(Mostly there are a lot more swear words.)
If you’re in that boat lately — whatever the reason — you’re not alone.
I feel you.
I don’t have the solution to all the world’s problems, (sorry), but I do have some ideas for blocking out the chaos and getting your own work done.
Because as much as there is a time for engagement and advocacy, your creative contributions are still critical to the world.
This month, each Monday Morning Blast-Off — my weekly newsletter for productive creative folks — will have a different tip for regaining your focus and getting back to work. I decided to post this series on my blog, too, because hey. We could all use some advice here.
Ready to reclaim your brain?
Tip #1: Meditation.
Disclaimer: I used to roll my eyes when productivity gurus inevitably included meditation in their lists of tips. I mean, seriously, sitting still for a few minutes feels nice, but you know what feels better?
Getting actual stuff done.
But these productivity gurus wouldn’t shut up about it.
And I finally tried it.
And my mind bounced all over the place like a ping-pong ball being chased by a caffeinated Aussie shepherd.
And I did not feel any better.
I started meditating more regularly, and after a while I noticed that not only was I getting better at letting go of thoughts while actually meditating — I was better at calming myself down and refocusing my mind during the rest of the day.
- When I want to be present for my work.
- When I want to be present for my husband, or for a friend.
- When I want to let go of the anger and frustration and anxiety surrounding me.
That is to say, my mind isn’t any less prone to ping-ponging — I’ve just gotten better at letting extraneous thoughts go and coming back to what’s important.
A little bit better, at least.
Here’s a metaphor I like from Thich Nhat Hanh:
Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves. Consider, for example: a magician who cuts his body into many parts and places each part in a different region — hands in the south, arms in the east, legs in the north, and then by some miraculous power lets forth a cry which reassembles whole every part of his body. Mindfulness is like that — it is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.
(From The Miracle of Mindfulness.)
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like your mind has been cut in a million different parts, each part in a different region.
And raise your hand again if you want to learn how to reassemble your mind on cue.
The point of all this is that I’ve now become one of those people who won’t shut up about how you should try meditation.
Anywho, try it and let me know how it goes, will you?
Your Homework (you guessed it):
Try meditating this week — even if it’s for only two minutes a day.
I like to meditate first thing in the morning before my brain gets too buzzy, but pick a time that works for you.
If you’re new to meditation, I’d definitely recommend going through Calm’s free 7 Days of Calm starter session.
Whatever you do, keep engaging with the world, but don’t let it hijack your ability to do your most important work.
And if you want a little kick of creative productivity every Monday morning, don’t forget to sign up for the Monday Morning Blast-Off newsletter.
What are you doing to block out the chaos and get your work done? Let me know in the comments.
(Cover photo by Sayan Nath via Unsplash)