Zen Guitar lessons: chasing rabbits

animol robbitOver the weekend I thumbed through my copy of Philip Toshio Sudo’s Zen Guitar, which is an interesting book for someone like me, who tends to think about playing guitar more than actually playing guitar. (But I’m working on that.)

Like most books that begin from a zen perspective, Sudo’s book offers insights about life, work and just about anything else. My favorite part of the book is the back section, which summarizes the contents into short, single-sentence aphorisms. One seemed to jump right off the pages at me.

Do not chase two rabbits at once.

Indeed. Most of us may not chase literal rabbits, but we do try to accomplish more than one thing at a time in our busy, hectic days. We call it multitasking, but often it ends up as multifailing.

It’s tough enough to catch one rabbit, I would think. (I wouldn’t really know, because I’ve never caught one, although in my youth I did chase a few.) Why even attempt to chase two at once? Rabbits are swift. They turn on a dime. We are no match for them.

What we humans do best is not multitasking, but singletasking. As this article from Lateral Action points out, “the real power of human mind is the ability to focus on single things for extended periods of time.” (Thanks, Copyblogger, for leading me down the Twitter rabbit trail to this post.)

The bad news: “When and if that focus is interrupted, it may take up to 25 minutes to regain it. And if those interruptions happen multiple times a day, it shouldn’t be too difficult to see how disastrous this is to productivity.”

That lateral action post also discusses the importance of managing energy. “The most important message here is, that it’s not the time you have allotted for doing something, but how much energy you have for doing it that matters.” This is a concept I’ve been trying to master since first reading about it in the book The Power of Full Engagement. But it seems I still end up spending a lot time trying to chase two rabbits.

If that’s also the case with you, then I hope you take a tip from Zen Guitar and focus on one rabbit at a time. May the rest of your week be a harmonious one.

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

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