When is the last time you focused intently on something, alone, without distraction from social media, email, news, your dog, or something else? Probably a long time, right? If your answer is all the time, good for you! You are probably pretty dang successful in life.
While time is the force that marches ever forward, focused attention is the skill that makes time valuable.
Attention is defined as “notice taken of someone or something; the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important.”
Focus is defined as “the center of interest or activity.”
It’s my belief that our focused attention is our most valuable commodity.
The human mind with enough focused attention, curiosity, and perseverance can create a light bulb (Thomas Edison), a windmill, the internet, a dishwasher, a car, and literally every item that we possess. This doesn’t even include the incredible art that’s created from focused attention.
I wouldn’t consider this book/blog “art” but focused attention does allow me to write, undistracted for a significant portion of time, until I am tired.
Focused attention is a skill. It is a skill that can be built from the ground up, no experience needed. It’s a wonderful thing!
The main thing standing in the way of your focused attention is distractions. Namely, social media, news, text messages, Facebook messenger, emails, TV, and all those pesky notifications that show up on your phone without you wanting them to.
Social media, news, and TV’s sole purpose is not “entertainment,” it’s to keep you watching for as long as possible. Facebook, Instagram, youtube, and now even TikTok, are all focused on serving you ads. This is the primary method in which they make money. The logic follows as this…
The longer you’re on the app, the more ads you see, the more money, Facebook and Youtube make. They know this, so they specifically design their apps to be as addictive as possible and “give people what they want.”
The problem is that people often “want,” things that are horrible for themselves without thinking about the long-term ramifications. But, I digress, i’ll go into that discussion at a later time.
So, back to the point at hand… it’s my suggestion and a bit of unsolicited advice, to take a few steps in building your focused attention again. The reason you probably need to build it again is that you’re so used to multi-tasking (btw, there is no such thing as multitasking, it’s called divided attention), that focusing on one thing at a time feels like torture. It feels less productive, but, I promise you, in the long run, one thing at a time, done well, is better than 4 things at a time done poorly.
Step 1: Remove distractions for a set duration of time. (use this strategy if you have a few hours that you want to commit to something)
- Turn off all of your notifications on your phone. Yes, this includes text messages, messenger, etc.
- Alternatively you can place your phone on do-not-disturb and airplane mode (make sure to do this with your smart watch, and your ipad or other tablet too just in case)
Step 2: Download the “Freedom app” from the app store
- This app is so good that I bought the premium version.
- Set which apps and websites you want to block and create a schedule around when you want undistracted time to
That’s it. Literally two steps and you’ll be amazed at how quiet the world becomes for those moments. It’s magical.