A Lesson From Astronomy

Have you ever looked up into the night sky and got the feeling of "smallness"? The universe is an incredible thing that transcends our comprehension. Using this as an example teaches a great deal about the importance of focus. Anyone who looked through a telescope knows how the slightest shift causes one to loss the constellation that he or she is looking at. Maintaining a steady hand is crucial to see what is desired.

People tend to go through life jumping from one galaxy to the next. They shift their focus on a whim while not controlling where their attention goes to. This causes us to lose the precision that comes from having persistence in this area. Distractions have a greater impact when lacking the ability to return our attention to the previous project. This reduces our productivity.

Planning helps us to maintain our proper concentration. It is helpful to eliminate as many distractions as one can. However, it is impossible to get rid of them all. Life still happens even when we have other plans. As I write this entry, the cat is next to my desk howling to be fed. This distraction will persist for the next 3 hours since that is his feeding time. Nevertheless, I cannot allow that to take away from what is needed here. My attention remains on completing this article.

My feeding of the cat would be an example of how people typically handle these situations. Follow this example with me. I could stop my work here and go into the kitchen to feed the cat. Once that was done, I could do some of the dishes which are piling up in the sink. Of course, knowing that my writing needs attention, I would only do a few with the intention of getting back. I then realize that the garbage was piling up. So, I take it out to make someone else's life easier. While outside, I pull some of the weeds I see covering the walkway. This exercise could continue on forever.

This shows how easy it is to get distracted. The ability to get back to the previous project and see it through to completion is vital. This requires discipline and training. Yet, it is a quality of the most successful. Here are a few things that you can do to begin to develop this habit.

1. Make a list.

This is one of the easiest ways to improve one's focus. The compiling of a list means that you spend some time planning. Consider what needs to be done allows you to move seamlessly from one activity to another. Once an activity is completed, you can easily move onto the next.

2. Break larger projects into smaller parts.

An elephant is eaten one bite at a time. A book is written one page (or word) at a time. Most activities can be broken into smaller pieces. This allows you to maintain the momentum while trying to complete larger activities.

3. Know the value of an outline.

This relates in part to the last item. An outline helps one to break a project into smaller parts. It also serves as a reminder should a distraction arise. Focus is improved by getting back the previous point before the interruption occurred. Unfortunately, this is not always possible without assistance. Having an outline helps us to achieve this.

The stars tell us so much. To really get the full experience from one planet when looking through a telescope, we need to focus steadily on it. Any movement away from it will alter our results. Similarly, maintain focus on the task which you are presently involved in until it is completed. This will increase your overall productivity.
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