Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused, and you may not even realise why you can’t seem to keep your mind on the task at hand. It might be because you have unfinished business with a previous task. To remedy this, take some simple advice from a Zen master: Leave no trace. Photo by tetue.
As Leo Babauta of Zen Habits points out, the idea is to avoid staying mentally attached to tasks or activities after you complete them. He explains:
Zen master Suzuki Roshi spoke about the idea of leaving no trace — doing something with complete presence, and then moving on to the next thing without holding on to previous activities.
His wonderful advice for doing any activity was to do things with “a simple, clear mind.”
One way to apply this is with a simple decluttering habit: clean up your mess when you’re done. This is a more literal way to “leave no trace” … not exactly what Suzuki Roshi was talking about, as he meant that we should leave no trace in our minds … but still a very useful practice.
It sounds simple enough, but it’s probably something all of us struggle with from time to time. Babauta’s tip to literally leave no trace is a good one, and you can apply this advice in other ways, too.
Here’s a personal example. When I finish writing an article, I don’t actually feel finished until it’s in the hands of my editor. The problem is, we’re in different time zones, and I prefer not to email them after hours. In the past, I would finish the article and remind myself to send an email in the morning. Now, I use a service like Boomerang to simply schedule the email. This way, I get it off my plate, and I don’t have unfinished business in the back of my mind. In other words, I leave no trace.
Another example might be to simply cross something off of a list. Whatever your method, the end goal is to simply stay focused on a task by making sure you have closure with other tasks. For more detail, head to the full post below.
A Simple Declutter Habit: Leave No Trace [Zen Habits]