“No-Fail” Friday: Access granted

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Fridays are by definition one of the best days of the week. For many, it’s the last day of the work or school week, with the whole weekend stretched out in front of you – not to mention the joy of a “no-fail” mindfulness challenge. OK, well, regardless, Friday afternoon should be an easy-breezy slide into 48 hours of kicking back…

So, which part of that sentence made you laugh more? Was it the easy Friday, or the idea of a low-key, relaxing weekend?

Both? Ah, well that sounds about right. 

Our weekends are busier than ever these days. On top of that – maybe it’s just me – but I’ve noticed that Fridays have a tendency to turn into a fairly intense race to the finish line. To watch the game of hot-potato unfolding in my inbox, you’d think that clock ticking towards the end of the day was as much a time bomb as a countdown. Nobody wants to take anything extra into the weekend, so they catch and release, boomerang a reply right back to you, and then you do the same, and the cycle continues until nobody gets through what they actually need to do, because they’re busy reacting to the last thing that got dropped in front of their face.

It’s kind of hard not to do, though. It’s kind of what we’re always doing.

Wednesday’s post this week was about attention, and distraction. In this particular moment in time, your attention is the most valuable asset you have. There’s an entire marketplace built around capturing and controlling it, and the only one not making money off it is you. The least you can do – and the most powerful thing you can do – is realize where it’s going. Or where you’re sending it, to be more precise.

Your “no-fail” mindfulness challenge this weekend is to pay attention. To what? To your attention, actually. You’re simply going to be mindful about the moments when you’re doing one thing, and you allow your focus to be diverted by something else. Unless it’s an emergency, it doesn’t matter what it is. This isn’t an exercise in judging yourself or the subject of your distraction, but rather just noticing. Where does your attention go when you’re paying attention to it? How often is it diverted? How long does it stay shifted?

You don’t need to be meditating to see where your mind is going. You can, of course, and if you do, you’ll be setting yourself up well for the job of noticing. But really, it’s about intention. It’s about wanting to see, and stepping back from the flow of thoughts and ideas on overdrive in your brain to actually see what it’s made of, where it goes, and what convinces it to go there.

Focus isn’t just the key to productivity, after all. Energy flows where your attention goes. What you pay attention to matters. If you don’t know where your attention is, then someone else probably does, and is benefitting from it.

You can change that simply by noticing, and then choosing, mindfully. It only goes where you allow it to, so grant access to it intentionally, and offer it to the people and efforts most important to you first.

Photo credit: Jay Mantri

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