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How Focusing on Everything Made Me a Better Writer

By Ruth Barringham

Being a writer requires focus. It takes complete focus and the ability to be able to shut other things out, including your thoughts.

I find that in order to be able to focus on my writing, I also need to be able to focus on everything I do.

There’s a saying that ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’ and it’s true.

You see, people are what they are all of the time, not some of the time, so they can’t be lazy at some things and be energetic and focused on others.

That’s why I find it important to practice being focused in every single thing I do. So when I’m doing household chores, I try and stay ‘in the moment’ and try and concentrate only on what I’m doing at the time.

For instance, if I’m at the kitchen sink washing dishes, I don’t look at all the pots and pans waiting to be cleaned (I’m quite anti-dishwasher), instead I’m only looking at and thinking about the dish in my hand, and I focus solely on that and clean it as well as I can. Then and only then do I turn my attention to the next thing I pick up.

Working this way not only makes sure that whatever I’m doing gets done well, but it also gets done quickly and without drama. I just work on one thing at a time and before I know it, I’ve finished.

And this works well with other things too, like polishing the furniture, vacuuming, ironing gardening or shopping. I just clean one thing at a time, iron one piece of clothing, pull up just one weed, trim just one twig, mow one small patch of lawn, and buy one item at a time, no matter how big the supermarket.

Another thing that I find really useful for helping me to focus, is to be minimalist with everything I own. This means decluttering and getting rid of what I don’t want so that I have more time for what I do want.

To do this I declutter my life by keeping only necessary furniture, having less knick-knacks, and putting things away when I’ve finished with them so that my home is minimalist.

My attention is another thing I declutter by avoiding things that bore me or serve no purpose. So if there’s someone who always wastes my time talking nonsense, I avoid them, and if I can’t avoid them, then I barely speak so they’ll be quiet sooner.

I also avoid doing things that aren’t necessary like bathing the dog (all my dogs have been bath-time-free and self-cleaning) so that I’ve got more time and attention for important or enjoyable things.

Ditto commitments. I never commit to helping someone on a regular basis. History has taught me that promising too much or continuing to do it over and over, quickly becomes a burden. So I’m stingy with my time because it’s the most valuable thing I have.

Digital files and emails are another thing that I like to keep uncluttered. I practice ‘zero inbox’ with my emails and find it so much easier to find things on my computer if my files are organised and I only keep what is necessary and delete the rest.

So by focusing on everything when I need to, my life is so much simpler with less to look after, less commitments, getting things done easily and faster by only focusing on one thing at a time, and keeping things organised and clutter-free.

All of these habits roll over effortlessly into my writing so that I can concentrate on one writing project at a time.

Using 100% focus in everything you do, and living moment to moment can change your life for the better more than you can ever imagine.


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