You know what it’s like when you are preoccupied. You have time to do what needs to be done, but your busy mind keeps you too occupied to accomplish much of anything. As a result, your productivity plummets.
You can interchange the word “distracted,” but the reason distraction keeps you from taking action is better understood by exploring the world “preoccupied.”
The Link Between Preoccupation and Productivity
I had never thought about the link between preoccupation and productivity until last week. A member of my Inspired Creator Community shared that he was preoccupied with a health challenge. Therefore, he reasoned, he had no time to work on a project, even though it was a priority. Not only that, it was his life’s work.
I asked, “Are you truly occupied or just preoccupied?” He asked for an explanation.
I explained that preoccupation occurs when a thought or thoughts dominate or engross your mind to the exclusion of other thoughts. When you are preoccupied, your mind is occupied by thoughts about a situation, challenge, event, or person. They completely fill your mind making it hard to think about anything else.
Like a dog with a bone, your mind can’t stop chewing on whatever concerns you. All of its attention is on the bone, and it is busy gnawing way. Even though thinking is a mental “action,” you feel as if you are too busy to do anything else. Therefore, you become unproductive.
Your Mind Has Been Occupied
In fact, your mind has been occupied. One thought, challenge, or issue has taken control of your mind much like a military conquest. It has occupied your mental territory. Not only that, it is taking up so much space that you feel as if you can’t think about anything else.
With your mind occupied, you believe you can’t take any sort of action—unless that action is related to whatever is preoccupying your mind. In the case of the Inspired Creator Community member, his mind was occupied by thoughts related to the health challenge. He was occupying some of his time researching treatments and options, which was productive. But, the rest of the time, his mind gnawed on the bone.
Preoccupation makes you feel as if you can’t think about anything else—let alone do anything else. And so you don’t. In fact, you likely have the time and possess the mental bandwidth to do something else.
After I explained this concept, I repeated my question, “Are you occupied or preoccupied?”
He quickly responded, “Preoccupied.”
And in moments, he had a plan to put at least a little time in daily toward the project he cared so much about and did not want to abandon. And he has successfully worked on that project and increased his productivity level.
I know about preoccupation all too well. In fact, the very same week that I spoke with my Inspired Creator Member, I found myself preoccupied—so much so that nothing got done all week except what had to get done.
I’m in the midst of a house buying and selling frenzy as my husband and I plan a move to New Mexico. Some things need to get done concerning the move, and they required focus and effective action—and I did those. The rest of the time, I found myself thinking about all sorts of things related to the move. Where would I find a doctor or dentist? What did I need to throw away? How would furniture fit in the new house?
I looked at the pictures of the house over and over again. Even when I was at my desk, I didn’t get much work done. My mind was occupied with the move. I was preoccupied with the move.
Preoccupation vs. Procrastination
You might say I was procrastinating, but I wasn’t. Preoccupation is different from procrastination.
When you procrastinate, you delay or postpone something. You procrastinate not because you are preoccupied but because you are avoiding doing something.
Preoccupation, on the other hand, is being occupied with thoughts. You aren’t delaying or postponing. You feel unable to take action because your mind is occupied by thought. Your mind is busy, and that makes you feel busy.
But you aren’t busy. Instead, you are simply caught up in thought.
How to Be Productive Despite Preoccupation
So, how do you increase your productivity level when you are preoccupied? The solution is simpler than you might think—although it’s not always easy.
To stop your preoccupation, do two things:
- Move your thoughts away from whatever they are so focused on and place them on something else.
- Take intentional action.
Of course, first, you have to be aware of your preoccupation. You’ll notice that you aren’t getting essential tasks done and can only focus on one thing—whatever has occupied your mind. That’s the clue. Your productivity plummets, and you feel as if you can’t do anything besides think about that one topic.
With that awareness, turn your attention away from whatever is occupying your thoughts and toward something else. For instance, think about the task you want to complete or the project you want to work on.
Next, set aside time for this project. You can put it on your daily schedule or take action immediately. When you begin, set a timer for the period you have allotted. Then turn your attention and effort to the task or project. Do not let yourself become preoccupied with anything other than thoughts about what you are doing at that moment.
You also can give yourself a set amount of time to think about whatever is occupying your mind. In other words, put a boundary around the time you spend preoccupied. When the timer rings, get moving! Do something…anything!
Preoccupation is a Focus on How You Want to be Occupied
Here’s another way to look at preoccupation: it’s a focus on what you want to occupy your time in the future. That means you are thinking about what you plan to do in the future.
So, if you allow your mind—or direct it—to focus on thoughts about how you will accomplish something, you are preparing for action. This type of preoccupation leads to productivity…and success. Basically, you are thinking about and imagining how you want to spend your time in the future.
That can lead to productivity…or even manifestation of what you desire. But, if you are focused on what you don’t want…preparing for a negative experience…that lowers your productivity level and attracts into your experience what you don’t want.
Plus, your preoccupation keeps in you in the past or the future. Not in the present moment. And action happens in the now. Productivity is created in the present.
In either case, too much time spent preoccupied keeps you from taking actions that lead to productivity. Manage your mind. Turn it toward thoughts that are positive and help you take action.
Do you get preoccupied? And if so, how do you manage your mind so you can remain productive? Tell me in a comment below, and please share this post with a friend.
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Photo courtesy of Jukan Tateisi.