A Practical Strategy For Sharpening Daily Focus
In my last post, I wrote about how we love flow experiences, and I explained 5 Principles that lead to increasing our flow experiences. In this article, I’m going to explain a very practical strategy for sharpening daily focus (that you can begin today) that falls under flow Principle 1 covered in my last post: Routine Development.
To increase our ability to pay adequate attention to whatever we are doing requires sufficient mental “RAM”. RAM is a computer term that stands for Random Access Memory. Generally, what this refers to is a computer’s capacity to handle whatever you are asking it to do. If the RAM component of a computer is asked to do more than it can handle, you will notice it, from the computer’s processing speed slowing down, to an outright computer freeze or crash. Interestingly, we mirror this quality.
Thus, to increase our ability to effectively focus on the task at hand, requires that we have adequate “mental RAM” available to us right now – while we are engaged in that task.
One of the things that will fill up our mental RAM in an undesirable way is a mistake. Mistakes immediately break flow, and thus immediately attract out attention, for we know that we have to decide what we are going to do about that mistake, or in some cases, what we need to fix or remedy — before we can move on.
Now, there are certain times for all of us wherein, if we applied a certain mental thought checklist strategy, we would significantly reduce the number of mistakes we make, and here are those times:
1) When we are leaving to go somewhere;
2) When we are arriving somewhere;
3) When we return from where we were.
“Oh know!”… I forgot my… wallet, purse, phone, tickets, briefcase, lunch” etc. Each of us has repeatedly said, or regularly says, some version of the preceding “forgot” list.
So here’s the practical strategy that will significantly counter this:
Organize by Developing LAR Routine Lists:
Creating LAR Lists is part of HCR Life Skill 11: Routine Development. It is the acronym for your Leave Arrive Return routine checklists. Using whatever documentation medium you think will work best for you (e.g: hand-written, Excel on your computer, phone notes) write out all the things you need to consider before 1) Leaving to go somewhere, 2) Arriving there, and 3) Returning.
Now, each of us has routine patterns in our life that we should tailor our LAR Lists to. For example: develop a LAR List for each major routine in your life (i.e: going to work, kids off to school, grocery shopping, etc.), starting with your most prominent routines.
Sorry, We Just Can’t Trust Our Memory For This
Our consciousness, as we have all experienced, can be very fickle. As our memory is part of our consciousness, it is by nature fickle too. Here are examples of what our fickle memory produces: “I can’t believe (I, we, you) forgot that!”, “Oh my god, don’t tell me, I (you) forgot that!”, “You (I) forgot again!” Yep! I assure you, a lot of these kinds of conversations transpiring all over the world right now.
Yet, perhaps the truly funny irony here is our “shock” that these “forgets” happen and keep happening. Of course they happen! We’re human. We’re learning. We have fickle consciousness! So until we use what our brain is quite good at (developing systems) to shore up our fickle memory, we’ll continue making the same very avoidable mistakes. Building checklist systems like LAR Lists are what is being currently referred to in psychology as developing our “external brain”.
If what I have written here has peaked your attention, then I encourage you to begin developing your LAR lists. You will be amazed at the mental clarity, productivity and peace of mind developing and using LAR Lists will provide. If you give this a go, please let me know your experience with it (in the comments), as well as any questions you may have.
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Bryan is the founder of Heart Centered Relating (HCR), author of the book The Art of Heart Empowered Living, and developer of HCR’s Personal Life Assessment Program. Bryan’s mission is to increase our awareness of how to live happier and more engaging lives through becoming aware of the wisdom and empowerment of our heart. Oh ya, he also likes tools, gadgets, fixing things, inventing, philosophy, psychology, and especially... helping people!