Productivity Thoughts

Fuzzy Thinking and Lack of Focus

Most days, I operate in a fog of sorts.

Even if it’s a sunny day outside, my mind can seem fuzzy or foggy. My thoughts are random, wandering into my conscience, making a deposit, then drifting away.

If I have work to do, these thought drivels take me away from productivity. I can’t help it. That’s the way my mind works.

Shiny objects wrench me away from the true path.

I’ve tried for most of my life to overcome this fuzziness, this randomness. I have a great library of productivity books. I’ve tried dozens of systems. Nothing has changed. It’s still hard for me to maintain focus for very long. Not to mention for days and weeks it might take to experience real progress.

I have so many great ideas and dreams that it would take several lifetimes to pursue. Now and then, one of these great ideas will come back to life and take my breath away. I have to work on it — now.

That popular GTD (Getting Things Done) system is exactly NOT what I need. It encourages randomness. My inbox is always full of 2-minute tasks, rarely do they advance any project of import.

I play guitar. Not well, but I’ve been playing for over 50 years. That’s not 50 years of progress, but 50 years of the same year over and over.

The same with my painting, or woodcarving, or woodwork, or writing, or business. I’ve got lots of experience over and over, but little actual progress.

I don’t know about you or anybody else, but this is my life — wandering to and fro in the meadows and thickets, taking whatever path I stumble on and switching to another one as I encounter it. My wandering uses up plenty of energy, but I rarely reach a destination.

Writing down my goals and plans does help for a few hours or maybe days, but I’ll find myself down some rabbit hole and then start over, from the beginning, and re-invent my plan as if I’ve never had one.

How do you maintain focus? I had a boss who could concentrate on the task at hand so intently that even a knock on his door didn’t distract him. I envied that ability. Still do. Most things aren’t urgent or important enough to compel me to focus for very long.

This post is an example of what I mean. I try to write something every day. I try to hit 1,000 words. I try to make those words meaningful, something that will advance a project. Yet, this topic wasn’t on the calendar. It isn’t part of any project. This post won’t hit 1,000 words. Yet, I’m writing it anyway.

My problem is that I have too many projects. As the Chinese proverb says, “The man who chases many rabbits catches none.” Too many rabbits inhabit my mind. Too many projects to work on.

I don’t multi-task. I multi-project, jumping from one to another, then another.

I wish life were less exciting. I’m too interested in too many things.

How do you maintain focus?

By John Larson

John is an experienced small business owner, management consultant, project manager, and family man. John has been married since 1967 to the same beautiful bride. He has two sons and eight grandchildren. He makes his home in Carlton, Oregon, USA.

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