I am distracted all the time. You are too. It’s the nature of American society. Waking up to an alarm on my cell phone ensures that the day begins with pointless distractions. Social media and emails have to be checked…and then checked again…and again. Phone calls have to be taken. Meetings have to be attended. The day turns to night and I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing other than being aware of every single thing that has occurred on the Internet. Sound familiar? I’m so “busy” yet continually less productive.
In his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey tells the story of a woodcutter who is sawing to the point of exhaustion while trying to take down a tree. A man approaches the woodcutter and suggests that the tree would come down faster if he would take a minute to sharpen his saw. The woodcutter responds angrily: “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw. Don’t you see I’m too busy?!”
It’s easy to get so caught up in “getting things done” that we become highly inefficient. We’re no good to anyone when we’re tired and overworked. Sometime today put your phone down and when you’re finished with your panic attack unplug for an hour. Spend time with your family, pray, listen to music or read an actual book (BuzzFeed articles don’t count). Take time to “sharpen the saw.” When you return to “work” maybe you’ll be refreshed and more focused.
Our lives would be less stressful and more productive by finding balance between working and taking it easy. Cal-Berkeley Sociologist Christine Carter suggests that we find the minimum effective dose of everything.
The ‘minimum effective dose’ (MED) is considered to be the lowest dose of a pharmaceutical product that spurs a clinically significant change in health or well-being. In order to live and work from my sweet spot, I had to find the MED in everything in my life: sleep, meditation, blogging frequency, checking my email, school volunteering, homework help, date nights.
Basically, we have two ways of focusing our attention. Intense concentration and letting our minds wander. While society attributes productivity to what is accomplished through concentrated effort, clearing our minds from everything we are inundated with can be just as effective to our overall output.
This is not a call to be lazy. Rather, it’s a suggestion to do more by doing less.