The other day, I was sitting on the train reading the beautifully written The Two Towers, the classic second book of The Lord of The Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. I was in the middle of a highly descriptive paragraph when a wandering thought entered my mind — something that I needed to get done later on that day. I kept on reading while thinking about this mind you, and it wasn’t until a couple of paragraphs later that I had finished thinking about my plan for the day and I realized that I had no idea what I had just read. I started from the beginning of the paragraph which had been interrupted, and I could not believe that I was going to just let the paragraph go past me without a second thought — or rather, because of a second thought.
I believe this happens far too often — we spend so much time thinking about what else we have to do and what is next on our agenda that we are not present in our actual activity and only put forth a half-hearted effort into it. We can be sitting in a dark movie theater with a friend, watching a movie — but if our minds are making plans for lunch later that day, or for what we want to do the following weekend, the time spent with the friend is completely wasted — as well as the effort and money that went toward the movie.
When you find yourself off deep in space and your head should be in an entirely different place — perhaps you too have found yourself in the rather unpleasant situation of being one place and having your mind elsewhere. Step away from the situation and find a quiet place, if possible — and clear your mind.
Then, more importantly, have a good look at your to do list. If you don’t have a to do list for the day, that could be the problem. You are thinking about what you need to do because you don’t have a solid plan, and your mind could be going out to the other places because on some level you are afraid of forgetting to do those things. Make that list. Remind yourself that the list won’t forget what you need to do.
Go back to where you need to be, and commit to being there, and mentally present. Don’t worry about what next and focus on what is now — your to do list won’t let you forget what is next.