We are distracted people. We are becoming more distracted and less satisfied with what we are doing and how we are doing it. We see evidence of our distraction with the growing epidemic of depression, despair, dissatisfaction with work, dissatisfaction with relationships, and questioning our very purpose. One of the biggest challenges to our ability to focus is how to “quiet” all the technology we have at our finger-tips.
It is easy and enjoyable, in one sense, to jump from our computer to our smartphone, to Facebook, to an app, and then back to our computer. We have developed a “hyperactive mindhive.” We think multitasking is the way to be successful in the 21st century. We jump from task to task, thinking we are getting a lot done, but we are just making ourselves miserable. The reality is we are busy, but not getting anything of importance done.
Focus. The first and most critical step is understanding what is essential and where to focus our attention and efforts. We each need a clear understanding of what is important and what is not essential. Each of us only has so much critical focus and energy each day. We can use it effectively in getting important things done, or we can waste our “deep focus” jumping from tasks to tasks. We are not hardwired to multitask. This concept of multi-tasking is a “big-lie.” Train your mind to focus on the critical tasks at hand.
Tame the distractions. Understand your core values and what is important to you. Here is a simple observation. When you have lunch or dinner with someone, watch to see if the person places his/her phone face up or face down. If the person’s core value is connections and relations, he/she will place the phone face down. If the phone is face up, he/she will, on average, check the phone three to five times in a five-minute span. The person’s focus is not on connecting.
Our family doesn’t use Facebook for group chats or connecting. We use a family text where we share pictures, videos, comments, or thoughts. Connecting with just our core family members is what is essential. We care about what is happening in their lives, not the three hundred (or thousand) connections we have on Facebook. Other apps are just a distraction.
Be intentional. What is the quality of your focus? Research has shown our minds can focus for about forty seconds. How long does it take before your mind begins to wander? The better your quality of attention, the better your quality of life because you can focus longer and go deeper into experiences.
You can train yourself to become aware of when you are not working with intention and just coasting. The more distracted we are, the lower is the quality of our attention and the lower is the quality of life we experience. Life is measured in the accumulation of moments. If each moment of your life you are distracted, you are going to live a distracted life. You are going to burn through years, not accomplishing anything of meaning or productivity.
Our existence is what we pay attention to in our lives. Where is your focus?