Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have.
Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.
— Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
Part of being a writer is the feast-or-famine cycle. What’s not discussed as often is that the feast cycle is just as stressful as the famine cycle, just for different reasons.
There you are, going about your business, when the universe flips the master switch and viola! It’s time to play Make the Writer Cry.
That’s not a “tweak,” that’s a full rewrite.
You want what, when?
Can we stop adding to the list of deliverables? Deadline’s tomorrow.
My last several weeks have been like that.
Right now, you freelancers are probably saying, “Don’t you have a contract that outlines all this stuff? Draw some boundaries.” You’d be right except that I’m a cubicle-dwelling contract copywriter; less room to push back.
Still, these past few weeks have given me solid practice exercising some principles I’ve been reading in The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (not a paid link).
In particular, focusing on what you’re doing at any given moment. I’m still wrapping my mind around the rest of the Tolle’s teachings, but the idea of dedicating oneself fully to the present can help you cope when everything around you demands attention.
During my most manic days, I found four words that can help you do that.
Yes, but for now…
Yes, I have to answer that email. But for now, I’m eating lunch.
Yes, I have to prep for that meeting. But for now, I’m refilling my water.
Yes, I have a lengthy To Do list. But for now, I’m going to cross this street without getting hit.
Yes, I have 12 emails to write for this one project. But for now, I’m writing subject lines.
Yes, I can meet with you about that later. But for now, I have to get this drafted.
They’re even more helpful when you reflect them in your working environment. Close browsers, windows and documents that you’re not using right that moment. Don’t ask beyond “Am I using this now?”
When you get home, be present at home.
Yes, I have to proofread that presentation in the morning.
But for now, I’m chopping onions.
Now, when your brain starts going a mile a minute, listing out everything you “can’t forget,” write it down. I leave sticky notes on my car keys or chocolate treat trackball. Your brain is a terrible list-keeper; paper is much more reliable.
But once you write it down, leave it on the paper.
All of this isn’t to say that your brain won’t snowball when you’re not looking. It’ll start reeling off things you have to do at a speed that makes Chip ‘n’ Dale sound like they’re talking in their sleep.
When that happens, remember—yes, you have to take care of that. For now, you’re busy.
How do you focus when life hits the master switch? Share in the comments.