It’s about the idea that when we’re doing stuff, we should be fully immersed in the thing we’re doing, rather than thinking about other things.
David, the author, quotes from a 1990s book about Spring Cleaning
Pay attention. Almost everything else will fall into place if you do. Don’t think about revisions in the tax code. Or anything else. In Latin: Age quod agis—”Do what you are doing.”
He then goes on to say
I take this to mean something more than just “don’t get distracted from the act of cleaning.” I interpret it as, “bring all of your concern to exactly the task you’re on now,” whether it’s wiping away soup spatters from the stovetop, or dragging the coffee table aside so you can vacuum.
Although I came across this in November, I hadn’t actively applied it to my life until earlier today, when I found myself ironing a top for a wedding. As usual, I had my AirPods in, and I was listening to a podcast at double speed. In my head, the ironing was a ‘waste of time’ and so I was trying to make better use of that time by listening to a podcast.
The absurdity of the situation struck me pretty quickly, and I remembered the advice of Age quod Agis - Do what you’re doing.
So I took out my AirPods, put them away and focused all my effort on the ironing. I found that my mind wandered while doing so, but there was something meditatively nice and enjoyable about just focusing on the task at hand and not thinking that I could be doing something better with that time instead.
Don’t get me wrong - I’m still a stickler for productivity and multitasking and efficiency and all that, but I think it’s nice once in a while to really focus on the thing we’re doing, even if it’s something utterly mundane like ironing clothes.
I mentioned this towards the end of this week’s podcast episode
(we always have a segment where we talk about our 'insight of the week’). My brother could relate - since he started paying attention to all the various sensations he has while washing his hands, he’s found that to be a much more enjoyable activity as well.
I’m curious to know - are there any seemingly mundane activities in your life that you get a disproportionate amount of pleasure from? Is there something you enjoy that you feel others would too if only they paid more attention to it? Hit the <reply> button and let me know - I’d love to share the wisdom of the crowd in next week’s email.
Have a great week!