Wandering days are confusing. I have something important to do, but I get distracted, drifting from one thing to another. Oh, I need to clean my desk. I need to text some people. I need to–
Although I’m able to get a lot done, I’m still a drifter. There are times when I mentally beat myself up for not focusing. I think, “Why can’t I just get it together?”
As an INFP, I expect this since I excel at divergent thinking and appreciating newness. However, that also means I have to deal with jumping from one thing to the next.
Unfortunately, the last week of October, I got hit with heat exhaustion (#floridaproblems), so I ended up spending time on the couch doing nothing to recover.
While in that state, I decided to binge-watch “K-ON!”. Besides being a super cute anime, I also got an unexpected lesson in dealing with my wandering mind.
“K-ON!” follows the journey of Yui Hirasawa, a directionless high school student. Many people see her as lazy and hopeless. However, when she joins the light music club and starts learning to play guitar, she is captivated. She’s still a wanderer, but at the same time, she dedicates herself to improving as a guitarist and supporting the light music club.
The watershed moment in the show is when Yui makes the observation that she may have seemed like she was going randomly through life, but all that time, she hoped something would come along into which she could pour all her energy.
“K-ON!” is an unexpected exploration of work ethic, and the lessons learned are worth sharing. So here are some more observations on the beauty of unfocus.
1. Being unfocused doesn’t mean you don’t care
By not caring, I mean attitude. The “I hate this; I don’t care” attitude.
The first thing that comes to mind is the unmotivated kid struggling in school. Adults may think, “This kid doesn’t care. They’re not even trying!”
But the child is thinking, “I know math (or any other subject) is important, but it’s so boring. I can’t focus on it!”
I see this happen to myself often as an adult. I know there is something I must do. That fact I’m aware of it means I care. I’m not lazy, and I don’t have a bad attitude about being responsible. However, I am bored.
So the next time you find yourself struggling to be responsible and do the important stuff, instead of criticizing yourself for being lazy, ask instead, “Am I bored?”
By connotation, laziness is a trait. It’s saying that you are the problem.
Sometimes you are the problem, but usually, if you’re bored, that means the required activity is what needs changing. You can fix this by making the problem task more meaningful or fun.
And if you have that nagging sensation that you’re wandering through life, don’t worry. Being unfocused means that you’re yet to find that place where you can pour your energy.
Keep experimenting with different interests, and you’ll slowly unearth what that is.
2. I can have fun with my wandering brain, while still being responsible
I borrowed this concept from, The Fun Formula by Joel Comm. But, it also fits the ethos of “K-ON!” very well.
In the show, the band has habits of drinking tea, eating cake, shopping, and going to the beach when they “should” be practicing.
However, when it comes time for them to perform for a school event, they are always there on time and prepared, even if they had to practice all night.
Despite all the time they spend playing, when it comes down to what matters, they are also responsible.
As a writer, I can be responsible by noting my word count, writing every day, and publishing work often. Still, I can have a fantastic time doing it all. In the Western hustle culture, that can be easy to forget.
It’s easy to forget that laughing, being silly, and overall enjoying yourself as you get stuff done does not equal irresponsibility. So bring out the coffee, pastries, music, podcasts, and over-watched movies as you work on those more responsible things. Extra points to you if you do it at the beach.
3. Taking breaks is as important as work
In “K-ON,” the main work of the light music club is to learn their instruments well so they can play music at school events. Doing this requires regular practice for the club members. Practicing an instrument is tedious but cannot be avoided.
Before the characters get down to practice, they start with sitting around, talking, and enjoying tea.
To other students, this looks like an extravagant waste of time. But, as the show goes on, it becomes clear that their tea time is more than fun and games.
Taking time to enjoy each other’s company allows the band members to form close bonds and make plans for the future. It also gives them a moment to relax and have fun before getting to work.
This made me think of more gentle ways I could approach activities that involve a lot of focus.
For example, before starting an intense writing session, I could take a moment to enjoy some coffee or tea and think about future projects that would be fun to try.
Sometimes what I need to do is so dull, it’s hard to get through it. Working in short bursts helps. Also, tackling boring activities with energizing music or a group of friends can give extra motivation.
The point is that taking a break and having fun doesn’t mean you’re not doing the work.
4. Short moments of focus have value
With the current state of technology, focus time is precious. There have been many books written to help people carve hours of focus out of their busy schedules.
The thing is that distraction isn’t just about technology. Even with technology out of the picture, as a creative person, my brain is a distraction. I wake up with ideas, and ideas often pop into my head as I’m trying to focus. Plus, there is the business of making a living and keeping up with friends and family.
Sometimes we feel that the only way to be “productive” is to make space for hours of Focus Time. And if we can’t do that, we might as well forget being productive because we must have hours of focus to make progress on anything.
However, “K-ON!” reminded me of how I honestly feel about this.
In the first several episodes, Yui takes a few moments to practice her guitar. Sometimes her practice sessions are less than 5 minutes. Other times they are longer.
But the thing is, each time she practiced, she was learning. It didn’t matter if her practice session was long or short, she still was further along than she was yesterday, and that made the difference.
Thinking about my projects, sometimes I don’t have hours to spend on them. Yet, even five minutes of writing puts me farther ahead than I was yesterday.
Short bursts of focus can help us take small steps forward, and those steps add up to a journey.
And as a side note, Yui practiced her guitar the most when she was procrastinating on studying for school. However, as she started to master the guitar, her study habits improved.
I know this is a fictional story, but I think it says something interesting not only about the secret power of procrastination but also about how building one area of discipline can have a domino effect.
Loving my unfocus
After watching this show and recovering from heat exhaustion, I felt more okay with not being able to focus when I feel like I need to. Instead of berating myself, I’m deciding to:
- Take advantage of my unfocus and have fun.
- Work on creative projects every day, even just for a short time. Even brief moments of work are worth it.
- Appreciate the value of taking breaks. Taking breaks builds joy and makes it easier to focus on demand.
- Be responsible. As long as my lack of focus isn’t stopping me from doing the essential things in my life, there’s no reason to dislike it.
So this is how I plan on making my unfocus work for me as an INFP.
Any thoughts on this post? Feel free to comment!