I am told I get tunnel vision a lot. I focus on what needs to get done and I don’t pay attention to what is going on around me. I don’t tend to see this as a bad thing until it’s brought to my attention that I have been doing something for hours and have forgotten other aspects of my day. This actually worked in my favor (kind of) when the end result was my husband bringing our new puppy Charlie home, see my blog: From Oops to Puppy. When I was younger I remember it being kind of a joke in the family because my mom was the same way. If there was something we lost, all we had to do was tell mom and she would go into search mode and not stop until it was found. Granted we had to stand in a corner and try to remember where we put said object but if it was going to be found mom would find it.
Tunnel vision can be pretty awesome though, especially when something like house cleaning needs to get done. If you turn on your favorite tunes and block out all other distractions, add a little frustration and you are set. I have been known to clean our whole house in 2 hours all while mentally making a list of all the new chores the other family members will be getting. My oldest daughter Tabby will zone out for hours just drawing on her digital drawing pad. She will turn on her music or podcast and just draw, it is actually pretty cool to watch because she is doing something she really loves. My middle daughter Leah is the same way when she gets into creating masks in her room or paining random objects. She has been known to work for hours on her different designs. When you get to have tunnel vision doing something you like, it makes all the difference. It’s hard when distractions keep happening and you have to figure out where you left off or you loose your hard earned focus.
Tunnel vision can cause some hurt feelings and frustrations as well. I was talking with a client today who mentioned she really liked that the vet didn’t just focus on the patient, she took the time to “notice” the owner and see they are going through whatever their pet is going through with them. She said with other vets she used, they would come in, do an exam, “listen” to the owner, treat the animal and then move on. They never took the time to see if the owner understood what was going on, they never asked if the owner was doing ok with the issues their pets were having. She felt as if she was just the random person in the room, who happened to know the pet. The doctors had tunnel vision but not in a productive way, and so she was turned off and went looking for another vet who would see her as well as her pet. A few months ago I started to realize that I was looking at people and listening to them but I wasn’t actually actively looking and listening. I had a “I need to get stuff done” tunnel vision. It was a very bad thing to have. I missed out on some really good conversations because I felt I really needed to get something else done instead of paying attention. I would end my day knowing I interacted with people but not remembering who I interacted with. I was not ok with this. So I decided to change (still a work in progress). When someone started to talk with me, I would stop what I was doing and interact. When someone looked at me I made sure to look them in the eye and smile. When I was getting overwhelmed I would ask the person talking to repeat themselves. More often than not, I had to mentally turn off the “tunnel vision” to be in the moment.
Lately I have been around my family a little more, this means that I have to “clock out” of the work mode I am so used to and “clock in” to the family mode that I want be more center stage. This means taking a few moments in my car to physically clock out, and mentally clock into what I will walk into when I go inside the house. This means that when I come in I put my stuff down and change out of my work clothes and into regular clothes so that I physically feel like I am home. I try to keep work and home separated and they only mingle when I need to have a listening ear after a hard day.
Tunnel vision isn’t always bad, if you have been to Yosemite you know that the view you get after going through the tunnel on the way to the valley is breathtaking. It seems that with everything moderation is key. What kind of tunnel visions do you get? Do they overtake your day? Do they help you to get creative? What do you do when you know you need to get away from tunnel vision for a bit? I would love to hear from you. Until next time:
I woke up this morning and realized I don’t have what it takes to sit back and be average.