I’ve realized now what’s happened over the years when it seems like you finally have a moment of clarity on something or you remember to focus on something or someone that you’ve maybe neglected. Head space. When our minds are filled up and focused on certain things, our brains have to let go of the other areas of focus in order to devote the mental energy and effort that’s needed for the task at hand.
We can’t focus on everything all at the same time. If we view our minds like real estate then there’s a finite amount of space to be occupied. We tend to operate with the understanding that we can just keep piling issues, people, conflict, work, to do lists, important dates, health, etc and that our brain will work it out. However, our brains are literally wired to conserve energy by letting go of the thoughts and ideas in order to take the path of least resistance.
By treating our minds like real estate we can begin to not only prioritize the areas of life we want to focus on but also work on developing disciplines and practices that help us maximize the space currently occupied while being better at using the remaining space without caving to the path of least resistance which simply means giving way to reacting to every problem or issue that pops up or getting lost in a social media and technology-driven spiral into nothingness.
Normally it’s after the fact. After a big issue has been dealt with you have a moment of clarity on all the areas of life that have been neglected for the sake of that one issue. The key is not to beat ourselves about it but quickly ramp up to speed on the areas that need attention.
Marathon runners will do this during their races. Every second matters and every ounce of energy devoted to the wrong thing can prove costly. They get in their stride and try to hold for the race with minimal changes. However, when a course has hard 90 degree turns it can really slow down a runner. So a trick they use is after they make the turn they make three or four very quick steps to make up for the pace they lost while slowing down on the turn. They don’t freak out or try to run faster for the next mile. Just three or four quick steps then settle back into their pace. This gets them back on track quickly without depleting their energy too much.
Once we realize that we have a finite amount of head space we can begin operating in a way that takes advantage of this truth. When we get through dealing with an issue, problem or something we’ve been really focused on, then we just need to make three or four quick steps to get back on pace. That might mean looking around at our relationships, work, finances, etc and picking the three to four areas that need our immediate attention and we do one quick thing to connect with that person or address that project.