Did you know you can only focus on 40 things at a time and yet your brain has to focus thousands every second? This fact has come up twice over the last couple of weeks, once in the unconscious bias training I did at work and once at a ‘finding joy’ seminar with Sophie Cliff. Both times this fact was presented to me it blew my mind. Like, if we’re really processing that many things at once and we can only consciously process 40, how many things do we miss?
I think the fact particularly struck me because I consider myself an excellent multi tasker and I guess ‘busy body.’ My mum has been trying to get me to learn about mindfulness and learn how to practise mindfulness for literally years and years, but alas my go-to for getting through things is to keep myself super super busy. Pack my day full of tasks and places to be and I am one happy gal. But then along comes the global pandemic and I’m forced to spend hours and hours alone with my brain and my thoughts and slow the f*ck down.
Now, I am under no illusion – I know that miss Rona has destroyed the lives of so so many people and continues to do so at an alarming rate. I also know and am aware that every person has processed and dealt with the pandemic in their own personal way, some by being productive others by watching netflix – both and all ways are completely valid, obviously. Personally, I’ve done a bit of both. Some days have felt an overwhelming desire to do absolutely nothing and others I’ve been desperate to be as productive as possible. What I would say though, is that the pandemic has forced everyone to reevaluate their lives, who they surround themselves with and why – including myself. People (mostly basing this off the people I know) have cut toxic relationships and friendships and there has been a general sense of change. It really feels like it’s been an overwhelming year of change for so many, a lot of it bad but some nuggets of joy and positivity too.
For me personally, as I said, my life pre-covid was SO BUSY. I’ve honestly got no idea how I managed it lol. It can’t have been good for my health. If I had a Friday night without plans I felt restless and unsatisfied. But now, I haven’t had Friday night plans for six months which, ok, I am not exactly thrilled by but you get the point. And on the one hand I am absolutely desperate to get myself back out into my lovely social life with all my beautiful friends, I’m no longer irritated or stressed by the fact that this weekend is an open emptiness. I have no plans whatsoever, I might sort out some of my things, might do some yoga, possibly go for a walk, but equally might drink a bottle of wine and watch some trash on Netflix. The point is though, I don’t have plans and I’m not making any and I am OK with that… If you’d told me at the start of 2020 that I would be that kind of person I would have laughed at you. I don’t necessarily intend to keep my life this way – for a start have made plans to move back into the city in a month’s time to get back into the office and seeing my pals (please corona stay AWAY from those plans I beg you), but I do intend to continue living my life at a slower pace.
I’m going to stop filling every second of my time and allow myself time to just do nothing, or read my book during the day (i.e. not just on my commute) or you know just do an hour of yoga without just fitting it in when I have 20 minutes and finding some rubbish youtube video and telling myself that’s enough. If my brain can only consciously process 40 precious things, imagine how much I missed before by filling my day so ridiculously full?