My son is a whimsical child. And by whimsical, I mean easily distracted. He wants to do and see and touch everything at once, but especially when he has been given a task he’s not particularly find of.
He’s clearly been struck with the Something Shiny Complex. Although this is one of the most frustrating parts of parenting him, if I said I can’t relate to his tendencies, I’d be lying.
You’d think since we are so much alike, I might be patient and understanding with his endless curiosity. But alas, I am not. We have a standoff in the bathroom at potty time approximately once or more each day. I attempt to explain that we are in the bathroom to go potty, not play with the trash can, dance on the rug, or find things to put in the washing machine.
I want so badly for him to focus. Just focus.
One day, to see if it would help, I started telling him, “John, you have one job. You need to get on the potty. That’s all.”
I quickly realized this statement of elimination may not be helpful to him. It was actually a message for me.
I too am easily distracted. It doesn’t take much for me to lose focus and become overwhelmed. When I don’t schedule my time or when I start too many well-meaning projects, I feel lost in a soup of good ideas and obligations. That’s when anxiety kicks in, and procrastination replaces productivity.
The spinning feeling doesn’t stop on it’s own. I have to calm my anxious heart down and pay full attention only to the one task in front of me.
“Sarah, you only have one job right now. You need to make dinner. Or sleep. Or write this one blog post. You only have one job, and that’s good because that’s all you can manage. You don’t have to get your entire list done RIGHT NOW. Just do the one thing in front of you.”
Because when you try to do everything, nothing gets done instead.”
Lists and schedules help to give boundaries to my time. They are a better boss than my nerves, which often feel compelled to do it all. But the gentle and constant reminder to just do the one thing, the one job assigned for now, brings me back to the moment, to the people in it, to what matters.
Only having one job at a time is a huge relief. A liberation. Jesus aimed to lift this burden when he told us not to worry about tomorrow but just focus on today. After all, he said, each set of 24 hours has enough going on.
Man, is that ever true!
I still remind John he only has one job. But I think we both know who I am really talking to.
How do you deal when you struggle with focus? Share your best methods below.