Whats really important may not be in front of you

  • By Paramananda Ponnaiyan
  • 05 Jul, 2020
Whats really important may not be in front of you

For great work you need focus but focus can lead to tunnel vision, making you miss what is really important. How do you make sure you are present to all aspects of your life while focussing on your work?

Your Brains memory is volatile

Many of us beleive our brains are really good at remembering things. Some of us can remember an impressive number of facts and figures. Yet, the truth is that the brain is very selective and over time may modify those memories to suit the current story we have made of ourselves.

For example, when describing bad events, we are more likely to describe them worse than they actually were and when describing good events, describe them better.

Even ideas dont stay for ever. They come and go and you need to record them somewhere so that you dont lose them.

Changing Context is hard

When the brain is working on a particular task, it uses all its facilities for that task, unless its preoccupied. Changing from one task to another means it has to put down all its thoughts (its context) and load everything required for the next task. This is hard and can take upto 25 minutes to regain a productive level of focus on the new task.


Why are we preoccupied ?

Preoccupation is a survival technique. When you have a worry, the mind realizes that that is really important and tries to signal to you that you need to look at it. One way to deal with preoccupation is to convince the mind that you will deal with it in the future.

One great way of doing this is to add a TODO item in your journal whenever a worry comes up. Its that simple. If you are using the Bullet Journal, you would create an entry with a filled in bullet.

Multiple Aspects of life

As a human being we have so many roles to play. We are a parent, spouse, student, employee, boss, son/daughter etc. All of these roles require some work. We dont track many of these tasks, tending to focus on one or a few. The problem is that if we dont fulfill our duties in a role, things will start failing in those aspects of our life. When that happens they appear as worries and preoccupation.

To deal with this, you need to maintain a todo list for each of these roles and try and pick tasks from them as often as possible. For example the role of a child of your parents may not need tasks every day or every week but should be looked at atleast once a month. The role of the todo list is ultimately to keep you present to the responsibilities of your roles.

Take Notes

So how do we keep track of our important thoughts and ideas?

The best method I have found is to take notes. Get yourself a journal and write down everything.

Some tips about note taking

  1. Get a method to effectively take notes. I use the (Bullet Journal)[https://bulletjournal.com/pages/learn] method.
  2. Keep your notebook with you at all times so that you can quickly jot down ideas.
  3. Add an entry for strong emotions, thoughts and worries. This will free your mind to think about more important things and you can always come back to important thoughts and worries.
  4. Convert worries into TODO items and remember to look back and do them.


Dont rely on the brain to keep track of important thoughts and ideas in life. Jot them down in a notebook of your choosing. Maintain a todo list of all the roles you play in life and try and make progress on all of them.