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The Power of Intention

By Kathy Paauw

Overwhelmed! That's a word I've heard a lot lately. A client recently exclaimed, "Who has the time to focus on one thing at a time these days? That's a luxury I just cannot afford! In an effort to be more efficient, most of us have learned how to multitask.

Computers are known for their ability to multitask. For example, you can compose a letter while scanning for viruses or downloading a software update. But have you noticed that even computers are often not as efficient when multitasking? The functions slow way down when too many resources are being called upon at one time. Our brains are even more susceptible to loss of productivity when we try to do two or more things at once - especially if they are complex or require a high degree of concentration. Studies show a drop in efficiency of 30-50% on individual tasks performed while multitasking. Brain studies show that we actually cannot multi-task. We simply change focus very rapidly from one task to another.

Perhaps one of the worst forms of multitasking is when we're trying to spend "quality time with a loved one, while also trying to be "productive." I'll never forget an experience I had years ago when I went to my daughter's soccer game on a day that I was feeling overwhelmed and behind. I had grabbed the mail on the way out the door. In my attempt to be efficient with my time, I was sorting through the mail while watching the game. Unfortunately, I was looking down when my daughter made her only goal of the game. I felt terrible when someone said, "Did you see that? Your daughter just made a goal! Although she never knew, it was one of those moments I could never get back. I could have read the mail anytime.

Reduce the overwhelm -- narrow your focus to three intentions at a time!

Are you living your life on purpose? Is your self-talk full of "I have-to," "I gotta," or "I should"? How often do you say "I choose to..."?

Maybe it's time to quit shoulding on yourself and be at choice! You're eventually headed for a crash landing if you do not honor your values and your life purpose by consciously choosing what you want and being intentional with your behavior and responses. Your "auto pilot may not be set to get you where you want to go. Begin by jotting down some intentions. When you set your intentions, choose ones that you're willing to put your time and energy behind and that are most important to YOU. Keep them short and simple. When you look back over the list, does it represent what matters most to you at this time in your life?

Here are some examples: - I intend to lose 10 pounds. - I intend feel more rested and energetic when I wake up each morning. - I intend to take one full 24-hour day away from work each week (including e-mail). - I intend to leave my office by 5:00 PM each day. - I intend to give 10% of my earnings to charity. - I intend to save 10% of my earnings for retirement. - I intend to deepen my relationship with my spouse. - I intend to feel more connected to my kids.

Because your brain can only focus on so much at one time, I suggest that you identify no more than three goals or habits to work on over the next three months. Jot down your three most important goals or areas of focus, and then underneath each goal write a description of the results you intend to achieve. Remember... trying to concentrate on more than three primary goals at a time can put your mind into overload.

Once you've stated your intentions, it's time to get REALLY specific by identifying measurable goals to help you follow through with them.

Here's how this works. One of the above intentions was to leave the office by 5 PM. In order to do that, I might determine that I need to be more productive at work. Here is how I get really specific about my measurable goals that will support me in following through with the intention to leave the office by 5 PM"


Have a system in place to follow up on calls and letters in a timely way.

Be on time or early for appointments. - Take journals & mail with me so I can catch up on my reading if I am early for an appointment. - Break larger tasks into smaller ones with deadlines assigned to each smaller task.

Set realistic goals and deadlines for new projects and stay on task.

Remind myself that when I say "yes" to one thing I am saying "no" to other things.

Only say yes to what is important.

Do weekly planning every Friday for the coming week.

In order to create new behaviors which will get and keep you at the enhanced level at which you wish to function, you may need support and an accountability partner. Identify whatever support you need in order to reach your goals, and then ask it.

Copyright 2005 Kathy Paauw

About The Author

Kathy Paauw

Wouldn't you love to stumble upon a secret library of ideas to help you de-clutter your life so you can focus on what's most important? Kathy Paauw offers simple, yet powerful ideas, on how to manage your time, space, and thoughts for a more productive and fulfilling life. Visit


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