Kourosh Dini has helped me so much with OmniFocus and DEVONthink that I can thankfully say that I owe him a big chunk of my adult productive life.
Yet there’s still that feeling that something is not working properly, because no matter how much I plan and review and work on my task management and document organization, work is overwhelming, tons of projects suffer big delays and the constant flow of new things to attend to feels like a non stopping flood.
I never thought it could have a name. I’ve always thought I’m just inherently lazy and that, even if I look like I’m constantly working, in reality I’m constantly letting myself get distracted and wander from one thing to another without the capacity to engage and commit to a real productive work.
Above everything else, I dread myself for not being able to make time to do anything else but work. Work being constantly juggling between hundreds of almost meaningless tasks.
I want to be with my family, travel more and, regarding my business, build a team and properly plan the future. I am not able to make time for any of that.
And suddenly Kourosh comes up with a series of posts that may be up to something. They resonate in me and give me a few concepts that may make sense and explain quite a few things.
I acknowledge that it’s a dangerous approach for myself, because I don’t want it to be an easy way to blame some condition of my mind of something that I still think is basically laziness and lack of proper organization. I don’t want nor I believe in easy solutions and self-cheating. Yet I think Kourosh’s Wandering Mind series might help me explain a few things.
It’s ongoing, so let’s see where it takes us. Thank you, Kourosh.
(…) how is it that there are so many who struggle with the issues of a wandering mind, but there is seemingly no simplicity behind it? Where is the commonality?
In this six-part email series, we’ll consider a metaphor I’ve been playing with that brings together a number of ideas about the wandering mind under this broader, spectrum view mind. After all, everyone’s mind wanders. It’s just that some wander more than others.
A wandering mind can stem from a myopia of time-attention.
(…) what is crucially missing in most descriptions of myopia are:
- Gained magnification
- Lost periphery
Putting it together, someone with a wandering mind can have a myopia of time-attention. Therefore, what can be held in attention tends to be smaller in scope, but is felt in greater depth and detail than otherwise.
Time does not exist without attention. Attention does not exist without time. They are a single entity that we have taken apart to try to understand them better, and have inadvertently concluded that they are separate. For this reason, I hyphenate “time-attention”.
In other words, those of us with wandering minds experience both time and attention differently, having a myopia of conscious awareness. We experience the present moment traveling through time in-depth but with a limited range. Past, present, and future are constricted together but are richly experienced, whether enjoyably or painfully.
So, what would it mean if our sense of time-attention, our working memory, was myopic?
That magnification is part of its power.
However, lining things up so they work within the limits of that “sight” is difficult. The limits on periphery means that you can more readily lose that sight of something once it drifts away from our myopic world.
And this is where we find a cascade, where the complexity begins…
So, you are always searching for danger, sometimes believing or finding yourself to be the source. Another name for this is ”fight or flight”.
But because you sense danger as ever present, it is chronically left in an on position.
Meanwhile, you’re vision is still myopic. So when you find danger, you hold on to it, not just because it is dangerous, but because it is what feels real. You don’t want to lose it. For example, a deadline gives you the “excuse” you need to focus, so it becomes both dreaded and a relief. Because, “I finally know what’s dangerous!” you keep it in front of you as a buoy of reality, not daring to let it go…
In part 5, we’ll continue the cascade that started from this simple view of myopia, but afterwards, we’ll look at how this view might give us better handles to engage ourselves and perhaps even thrive.