You know that feeling of having just too little time in a day, too much that has to be done, too much that it would be nice to get done? Don’t we all just wish there were something to help with that?
Aren’t we really trying to get more out of ourselves, just like that, with all the substances we take – not least coffee?
I myself am as if being torn apart by the centrifugal forces of my interests, pulling me this way and that, towards the wondrousness of human knowledge and all we know about the ways we “shortcut” our own thinking, towards the power of technology to change the world for better and all the misconstruing that places the technology of gadgets over the power of techniques, and so much more… And I wouldn’t want to “just focus,” as the advice often goes, on a single issue, a single specialization.
No matter if it is for learning a single skill, recognizing patterns and realizing connections, or even just getting a day’s work done, however, something seems missing. Some clarity.
The movie Limitless captures the desire well when its hero, after taking “NZT-48“, surprisedly states that this was not like any drug he knew of: “I wasn’t high, wasn’t wired – just clear. I knew what I needed to do, and I knew how to do it.”
From Xanax and Valium, the preferred choice of psychopharmacological drug among Millennials has apparently shifted to Ritalin or Adderall, also reflecting this focus on, well, focus.
How we’d like that feeling, how we look towards coaches, and systems, and apps for getting things done, putting ever more on our plates, trying to fit ever more into our schedules and busy days, and looking to use any and all gaps for doing something more of something, anything – never realizing that this is the very problem.
When it feels like there’s ever more to do, all at once and all important, it will not work to organize it all ever more minutely, try to make ourselves do ever more, and all of that right now.
It is time to step off that “merry-go-round of knives“.
Not to quit doing anything and run away from any and all pressures, but to remember that our minds are made to either shut off and do something rather mechanical as if automatically, or to focus and get deeply engaged in one activity that requires total, thoughtful, concentration.
So, if you don’t want put-off chores to lie heavily on your mind, get them done immediately and/or after a schedule, as a habit. Eating, and taking care of the used dishes. Laundry, every Saturday morning. It frees the mind up a bit, and shows why there have typically always been certain times for certain things, and habits for better.
And yes, it does not only apply to the learning and personal growth we perhaps seek to become more special, to create side businesses, to fulfill dreams of greatness, or just to keep up with workloads. It also applies to what I like to call the maintenance work of life.
“Müde macht uns die Arbeit, die wir liegenlassen, nicht die, die wir tun.”
(We tire from the work we do not attend to, not the work we actually do.)
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
Attention, and the ability to deal with distraction, is the NZT that really exists; conscious, engaged doing – and the habits and practices that make it possible to do things while having to think less about them – alongside the ways of life where there is more living and less work – is the “drug” necessary for better.
Of course, it will not bring immediate results. It will not make you a high-flyer beyond his/her potential – but how about you start working up to your potential, right now, finding ways to do so rather than finding excuses why it’s all not possible – all the while finding the time to watch TV or slough off in other ways.
And yes, it’s hard. But, that’s life, and that’s what makes it worthwhile. And once you build up momentum, it gets easier. Just turn off that TV, turn that phone completely silent, take the next thing you really want to or need to do, and friggin’… Do. That. One. Thing.
Here and Now. That’s the way to get more done, and to learn and grow.