The idea of attempting to concentrate on one object at a time can look impossible for some of us; and actually, it is not possible for some.
With more and more people being diagnosed with attention deficit disorders, busy demands on their lives at work, more responsibilities than ever at home, and bills always piling up, it’s a wonder anyone can get anything done to completion. Many people spend thousands of dollars to work with career coaches and life coaches to assist them in managing their workloads and responsibilities. But there is another strategy that is becoming more widespread. It’s called ichigyo-zammai, a Japanese term that basically means full concentration on one thing. This concept comes from Japanese Zen Master Sunryu Suzuki in his book Beginner’s Mind.
The single most essential method to enhance your life and productivity
Just imagine what it must be like to begin and complete one task. It seems like a foreign concept to most people who jump from washing dishes, to making lunch for the children, to checking their email, to taking the chicken out to defrost for supper, to folding laundry and never getting back to finish those dishes.
This is how many people live their lives, and it’s tiring.
Life coaches will tell you that the single most effective way to boost your productivity is to do one thing at a time. Tim Ferriss, author of the best-selling book, “The Four Hour Work Week” also talks about the significance of concentrating on one thing at a time to get the job done.
Here’s how you can begin one project and stick to it so you can be enlightened, and if nothing else, more productive.
6 steps to practicing ‘ichigyo-zammai’
1. Begin your day with a to-do list that includes all of your regular tasks and extras that you wish to complete for the day.
2. Sort them in order of significance. Imagine which ones will make you feel like you had a successful day in general if you finish them.
3. Decide how long it will take you to finish each task. Remember, people are known to overestimate what they can get done in a month and underestimate what they can get done in an hour. Try paying attention to how much you can accomplish in shorter blocks of time and you’ll be surprised by how productive you can actually be in a single day.
4. Set a timer for yourself and put away all other distractions. Sit down and commit to working on the task you have assigned yourself until the timer goes off. In the beginning, this might be very hard as your phone dings from across the room. Turn it off if you need to. Of course, that seems extreme in our “always on” society, but allow yourself to get the things done that need to be done and you’ll have plenty of time later for scrolling through Instagram.
5. Keep your concentration by paying attention to your ideas and thoughts. When you catch yourself beginning to drift into a different thought other than the one you have for finishing your task, bring it back to center and remind yourself that this feeling of discomfort will last only a few moments and soon you’ll be back in a natural rhythm of work.
6. As you write, clean, wash, cook, walk — whatever it is you are doing — be aware of your surroundings and how amazing it is to be alive in this moment. Don’t think about the drudgery of having to meet a deadline, think about how great it is that you have the opportunity to work on this particular project. There is greatness in everything, even a TPS report.