Leo Babauta has a great post at Zen Habits (a site I must remember to visit more often) on Full-Screen Living.
Many of us who write, he points out, use tools that simplify our computer screens. My last book, and most of my blog posts, were written in an application called WriteRoom, which presents me with a black screen, green plain type, and no formatting options, toolbars, or any other distractions. When I’m reading news articles on the web I often use Readability, which is a browser plugin that reformats the screen to make reading an undistracted full-screen experience. Babauta mentions these options, and more, and this may be new to you, but it’s something I’m already deeply into. (Readability has announced since I wrote this post that it’s closing down, but here’s an alternative if you use the Chrome browser.)
But where he gets really interesting is when he takes “full-screen” as a metaphor for life. It’s a brilliant metaphor, and along with many other writers I’m kicking myself that I didn’t think of it myself. Here’s the juicy part of his article:
That’s fine for computer work, but what about life in general? You can live exactly the same way.
If you’re going to spend time with your child, don’t switch between the child tab and the work tabs in the browser of your mind. Put your child into full-screen mode, and let him take up all your attention, and let work and everything else you need to do later fade into the background.
You’ll still get to the work, when you’re done with what you’re doing with your child, but for now, be fully in this one activity, with this one person. When you’re done with that, you can bring your work into full-screen mode, and let the rest of your life go into the background for the moment.
If you eat, let the food fill up the screen of your attention, not your thinking about other things. If you’re showering, let that fill your attention, instead of planning. When you’re brushing your teeth, let the “conversation” (read: argument) you had earlier fade away and just brush your teeth.
When you work, do one task at a time. And don’t just do one task at a time, but do that task with all your attention (or as much as possible), and don’t be thinking about the other tasks.
But how do we do this. Babauta has some advice on this too, but I’ll let you read that on Zen Habits.