A new paradigm – How to sustain focus ?

There were a couple of people having a boisterous conversation in the lobby just outside where I was working. My laptop fan was whizzing like a jet engine due to the intensive task it was carrying out. All those sounds reached my ears but my mind was concentrated on the task as if it was in Microsoft’s Anechoic Chamber. Although my mobile phone is in silent mode, there were many incoming messages, notifications, and emails to my mobile phone. Aroma of the flavor from the food which was being reheated in the Informatics kitchen was very much distracting. Though I had not eaten any food in the last 6 hours, I was indifferent and was focussed on the task at hand.

I did not bother about whether I am going to finish the task that day or not. I could not care less if I would get any reward or appreciation for it. I did not think, nor plan any contingencies in the case of a failure of the task at hand. I did not know that it would benefit or harm anyone at any point in the future. I had not blabbered about the task, neither complained about it to any of my friends. It may not be super interesting task to most people in the world who were doing such tasks daily neither for those who were starters.

I was simply making my computer crunch a bunch of numbers and perform some large computations. It is neither a humungous task nor a minuscule one. I simply did not care about its size. I was super interested in performing it, though. I felt like I was swimming in the middle of an ocean by myself. I did not know whether I would be rescued, reach the shore, be eaten, or just die of exhaustion. I was not hungry, neither thirsty. I was swimming for the sake of swimming because I enjoy swimming.

Now, this may sound a little extraordinary. One may argue that one cannot be this focussed every day. Trust me this is what I had been learning in my grad school and I have been very fortunate to have discovered the secret to such unadulterated concentration. From the moment I had known the secret, I have been creating wonders. Whatever the task had been, I have been learning to focus and enjoy doing it.

“One has to learn that the result is not important”

Krishna in Bhagavadgita (A mythical God)

The secret is that one should not have the desire for the result. The motivation you may get from the result is temporary or misleading. But if your love for what you do is genuine and unadulterated, not even a tornado can distract you. Of course, each and every task we do would not be so lovely. But, one can develop a genuine relationship with anything in this world. All it takes is practice and giving.

“The mind is restless and difficult to restrain, but is subdued by practice”

Krishna in Bhagavadgita

I was not a great coder, nor was in love with it on the day I started coding. It was intimidating and It took me a lifetime to be a decent coder. I have been understanding myself and coding every single day. Although many situations stressed me, I had been learning to never feel any pressure of becoming the best, nor show any genuine interest in any results from it while enjoying it. When you associate yourself with either an art, a sport, or a person, or anything in the world, without any desire, such relationship would be so pure and would prosper for a lifetime! Not convinced yet? I am attaching a magical video about how a small kid with a growth hormone deficiency from Argentina changed the world of soccer for good. Hi is my living legend, my idol, and one of the greatest Soccer players of all time: Messi. Watch him, till the end to experience a paradigm shift. Now go create wonders every single day!

Please let your thoughts flow in the comments below!

How Do I Deal With Life in Grad School? COMMUNICATE!

This last week has been the pits for me; First, I got sick, and then a small piece of my back tooth came out, and I need a crown (MAYBE $750 🙁 ). I still have so much to complete to stay on track (a detailed critique/commentary for one class, and I must read a book for another class by tomorrow) but throughout the weekend my body was simply not functioning. So I did what I could during the week, and when everything ended Friday I headed home. I made soup with onions, jalapenos, and green onions and curled up in bed.

A major challenge we face as graduate students (or others in hyper productive environments) is that we get so used to being productive (or at least striving to be) that when we are not working, we experience guilt to different degrees. And this can really weigh down our future efforts.

I was in the bed, sick from the flu, with a toothache I would wish on no one, and yet I still worried about getting my work done, and what would my professors think of me if I did not live up to their expectations. BUT LIFE HAPPENS!!

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Struggling to Find a Routine? (It’s okay!)

As I wrap up the 3rd year in my PhD program, I still struggle to find my sweet spot of productivity. BUT THAT’S OKAY!

Graduate school is essentially a marathon; you have a great (intellectual) distance to travel, and the primary goal is to finish. In order to do that, a balance must be struck between academic/professional work and self-care. Very often we forget about how important it is to take care of our mental and physical well-being. When we focus on sprinting too fast for a short distance, we run the risk of burning out (physically, mentally, and emotionally). So how can you negotiate your own balance of well-being and performance?

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