‘Your scarcest resource is not your time. It’s your attention. Your best work flows from paying undivided attention to the projects that matter to you. Your deepest connections come from listening with rapt attention to the people who matter to you.’-Adam Grant
Have you noticed that sometimes everyone and everything is calling for our attention?
We have become increasingly distracted and caught up in everybody else’s agenda.
According to the Chartered Professionals Accountants of Canada, in 2019:
The average person unlocks their iPhone 80 times a day.
That’s once every 12 minutes for 16 hours, everyday!
A 2021 study of cell phone use conducted by Statistica.com states that nearly half of respondents spent on average 5-6 hours on their phone on a daily basis, not including work related smartphone use.
Our attention is being pulled in a million different directions with social media, email and the notifications that are fighting for our attention.
People are becoming distracted on frivolous consumption.
This leads to massive distraction.
But we love distraction because it feeds our ego, especially as it relates to social media. We like it when people see us flipping through our phones in public because it shows we are busy.
And we love to be busy.
Being busy with our endless e-mail notifications, scrolling and ‘likes’ have become a positive social stigma and proves to the world that we are indeed busy!
We can’t resist shiny objects which are designed to distract us and steal our focus because of a fear of missing out.
According to Gloria Mark, who studies Digital Distraction at the University of California:
It takes an average of about 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption.
Distractions don’t just eat up time during the distractive moment, they derail your mental progress for up to a half an hour afterward.
In other words, that “30 seconds to check Twitter: isn’t just 30 seconds down the drain. It’s 25 minutes and 30 seconds.
‘It takes discipline to not let social media steal your time’-Alexis Ohanian
Fighting for focus is a constant never-ending battle because the designers/engineers behind social media platforms, mass media entertainment and retail giants are in the business of getting users hooked or even addicted.
I call them methods of mass distraction!
Over the last year, I performed a personal audit on my focus levels. I tracked my focus, ability to concentrate and perform deep work during critical parts of my day.
What I discovered was eye opening!
My focus broke down when I had an abundance of fatigue.
- When I was sleep deprived.
- When I let go of my healthy lifestyle.
- Eating out too much.
- Or stayed up late too many nights in a row.
The result – I became distracted and spent too much time scrolling and browsing. I also noticed I procrastinated on my work and personal deadlines. In addition, my creativity levels dropped because distraction was stealing my focus.
As a result of this reality check about my distraction stealing my attention, I have made it a priority to take back focus in my life.
Here are …
3 ideas which I incorporate into my daily habits to reduce…
And increase my…
- And drive.
‘By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.-’Christopher Columbus.
- MAKE FEWER DECISIONS
The more decisions you make, the more your brain becomes fatigued long term.
This is because you are overextending your brain, energy and will power to make small choices which become maximized over time.
One way to reduce the amount of decisions in a day is to stop browsing, swiping, and ‘liking’ because it wipes away your self-discipline.
All of the little decisions you make online, when you are browsing, steals your focus and over time when you try and go back to the things that matter, it requires more concentration and brain power.
It becomes harder to get things done and your brain may become fatigued.
As a result, you may start multi tasking or doing a lot of ‘busy’ or ‘to do list’ things that may not be contributing to your goals, objectives, or purpose.
My recommendation is to minimize or stop browsing or endlessly scrolling, tweeting, and reacting to news feed alerts.
Every time you look at them, you are making a decision that is costing you “focus power”.
If you are constantly feeding your brain with a million things, you are preventing yourself from performing deep work.
My absolute favourite author on focus and mastering the skill of deep work, is Cal Newport. I recommend his book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.
The book is available on amazon:
If you are browsing, make it intentional.
If there is something you need online, search for it, move on, get out and resist going down the rabbit hole.
Stop swiping and clicking on the apps and pictures because they are built for distraction.
- BUILD A BUBBLE OF TOTAL FOCUS
‘Distraction wastes our energy, concentration restores it’-Shannon Salzberg
I mentioned earlier that we are spending too much time in front of our screens (digital distractions) and this is sucking our brain capacity and stealing cognitive bandwidth.
When you wake up in the morning your brain is fresh, full of cognitive potential and the ability to be creative and productive.
But then you check your screens, and you are giving your energy and power away to your digital distractions.
By the afternoon you have checked your news feed numerous times, checked Instagram and your creativity is depleted.
My advice is not to let distraction in by creating a bubble of focus.
This bubble only lets in inspiring and joyful things.
It only lets in amazing people, books, great conversations, and things that move the needle toward to your goals and purpose.
It only lets in things that are fulfilling.
Anything that is toxic, trivial, someone else’s priorities and addictive things like social media or binge-watching Netflix late into the evening is not allowed in.
Set up your ecosystem and environment so there is no distraction.
- Block out an hour, 3 times per week where deep work and creativity can prevail.
- Turn off technology so you can work in solitude on your craft with purpose and creativity.
Turn focus into power!
- YOU MUST DEFINE YOUR MISSION OR PURPOSE
When we are distracted, we are in reactive mode which means responding to everyone else’s agenda.
Once this happens, we slowly lose our ability and desire to be proactive about our own mission or purpose.
Focus is the elimination of things that don’t matter or add value to your life.
Have a mission, purpose, or intention for what you are doing today, this week or this month.
If you are not intentional with these plans, it is easier to succumb to distraction and lose momentum toward work that is fulfilling.
For more information on finding your purpose, read my blog called
‘The 5 Most Important Questions to Ask Yourself to Reveal Your Life’s Purpose’
Working toward your mission everyday by creating a plan will diminish the importance of everything that does not move the needle.
You need to be crystal clear about what you want to accomplish.
Once you have dialed in your mission/purpose by allowing yourself to make fewer decisions and creating a bubble of total focus, you will make progress.
Progress means you have the momentum to go deep, become intentional and say ‘no’ if it doesn’t serve your purpose.
Let go of distraction and replace it with positive energy, wisdom, and momentum.
Remember to create a morning mindset, by journaling first thing when you get up.
Take out your journal and ask yourself these powerful questions:
- What is the number one thing I need to accomplish today? This week?
- What was last week’s biggest time sink? Was it in my control?
- What am I struggling with, that might ruin my week?
- What have I avoided that needs to get done?
- What are my top 3 goals this month? How do I plan to get them accomplished?
Focus can become your Super Power!
Your goal is to get away from distraction so you can win the war on your attention!
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These tools will help you grow, reach higher heights so you can become the best version of you!
I sincerely wish you the best on your journey to enhance your life!
George Andreas, Founder