There’s a maxim in archery that goes, “Aim small to miss small.” The idea is that in order to achieve maximum accuracy, you need to narrow your focus and attention to the center of the target (the “middle of the middle” as I like to tell my archery students) and ignore everything else. It’s the same concept that Mihály Czíkszentmihályi (pronounced Me-High Chick-Sent-Me-High-Ee) describes in his book Flow where he talks about the merging of action and awareness. That kind of attention is critical for performing at your best.
Whether it’s your social media feed or the constant drip of your email inbox, the modern world conspires against focus and attention. Here are a couple suggestions to help you regain some focus.
Try the pomodoro technique when you really need to buckle down and get something done. It’s elegant in its simplicity; all you need is a timer. Here are the six steps:
Pick a task.
Set your timer for 25 minutes. (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. The technique was named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer the creator of the technique used. The particular timer you use doesn’t matter. You can go for the old-fashioned vibe, but I like to use the Be Focused app on my phone and computer.)
Work on the task.
Stop working when the timer goes off and give yourself a tally on a sheet of paper.
Take a short break and repeat the cycle.
If you’ve completed four pomodoros, take a longer break.
Set a goal to complete a certain number of pomodoros in a given day. The exact length of the work and break phases aren’t critical, but a 25/5 pattern is the most common with a 15–20 minute break after four pomodoros. I’ve also used 32/8 patterns, and some people prefer even longer work and break periods depending on the nature of the task. Find the rhythm that works for you.
Set a “Daily Big 3” task list every morning or at the end of the work day for tomorrow’s tasks. Taking a few minutes to consider and commit to the three biggest deliverables for a given work day helps focus your mind on what matters most. Checking the boxes as you complete those important tasks will feel great. I also do a “Weekly Big 3” list every Sunday night as I’m preparing for the coming work week.
Whatever your technique, aim small to miss small, and increase your chances of hitting a bullseye.
A thought to ponder #
A goal without a project is a dream; a project without a goal is a hobby.
Something Delightful #
Kintsugi is the traditional art and practice of repairing cracked or broken pottery with gold or silver. It’s connected to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi which encourages us to see the beauty in imperfection. Often, the repaired object is even more beautiful than the original piece.
Earlier this year, artist Victor Solomon applied the kintsugi technique as he restored a south Los Angeles basketball court. The result is beautiful.