In the age of social media and modern technology, we’ve lost the ability to focus. A lot of people like to say that they have ADHD, and while it’s no surprise that numbers are rising, you don’t exactly need to be medically diagnosed to feel totally scattered all the time.
ADHD or not, you definitely ARE impaired. And it’s not your fault. Our lives are designed for distraction. The ability to focus deeply on one idea at a time is becoming rarer and rarer.
“We’re now living in an Idea Economy,” according to HP CEO Meg Whitman. Whereas manufactured goods were once the material that drove our economy, ideas are now the commodity. You can only succeed if you have the agility to respond to market opportunities and quickly turn ideas into reality.
The catch-22 is that success requires deep focus
As we dive deeper into technology made to enable us and enhance our lives, we’re paradoxically seeing a huge increase in our inability to tune out inputs that distract us, sap our mental energy, drain our focus and decrease our intellectual output.
Everything we consume has been brilliantly designed to make us keep coming back for more. There are teams of people that engineer our technologies and their only job is to figure out how to make you click, share, swipe, watch, consume, and ultimately convert.
And while we’re drawn deeper into our devices, we’ve opened up more points of access than we know how to manage. I just counted. There are 12 different ways to get in touch with me at any given moment. 12! Between multiple email addresses, social media accounts, apps, and my “normal” phone, I’ve essentially given the world total access to disrupt me at any moment.
We don’t stand a chance
The brain’s reaction is automatic. Basically unstoppable. To overcome distractions, you’ve got to be bulletproof. Superhuman.
“A distraction is an alert that says, ‘Orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous,'” – David Rock
Willpower isn’t enough. It’s futile to try to exercise self control and then get mad at yourself when you can’t do it. And yet, we constantly deceive ourselves. We promise that “this time will be different,” this time we’re going to buckle down, only to realize you’ve spent the past two hours on Facebook.
Listen up: overcoming distraction is NOT about willpower. You’ve got to be more crafty than that.
The “secret formula” to find more willpower and become more productive
Here’s the good news. If you can learn to focus on one thing for an extended period of time, you can surpass 99% of your peers and people in your field. Just by continuing to keep your attention trained on one thing. One wildly important task or goal.
Focus is a trained skill. To train a skill you need to create a set of powerful habits to keep it strong. You need to train yourself to learn how to focus. Because just like focus, distraction is also a muscle. The more you flex it, the easier it is to use.
Here are 3 quick ways to immediately start training focus into your daily life:
1. No cell phone for the first 20 minutes of your morning
Rather than start your day getting sucked into the black hole of the internet, meaningless gossip, and/or important work — take 20 minutes for yourself. Wake up, allow your own thoughts to influence your entry into the day. Personally, I recommend meditation but it can be as simple as making time for yourself in the shower, or over a cup of coffee.
Cultivate your intentions without the distraction or allure of the screen, behind which lies someone else’s agenda. Technology eliminates alternatives to itself. As soon as you’re sucked in, it’s hard to get out.
2. No tech Sundays
Or Saturdays. Whatever works for you. Give yourself one day per week entirely free of distractions. What you choose to do is entirely up to you. The point is to re-invigorate the muscles that don’t require instant gratification.
What you choose to focus on and choose to ignore is a defining quality of your life. Who you are and what you feel IS what you focus on. If you’re constantly engaged in a techno-sphere of influence, how can you possibly see things from another perspective? Without time “off,” how can you distinguish your ideas from the world’s?
Last month I went to Greece to write the first draft of my book and disengaged from the internet for three days. Though the amount of work I produced was impressive (40,000 words), I was absolutely blown away by the quality of my ideas.
“The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.” – B. F. Skinner
3. No internet either before or after work
Just because we exist in a wifi / 4G universe doesn’t mean we always have to be on the internet.
Take me for example. The first draft of my book is due on May 1st. Every morning, before I head to the office, I carve out a few hours to write. When I write I turn off the internet.
I’ve tried the alternative and it’s just too damn tempting. “I’ll just check my email” turns into a series of clicks that lead down a rabbit hole of distraction that I had no intention of consuming. For whatever reason, our minds crave novelty.
Just because you’re not writing a book doesn’t mean you can’t take something away from my experience. Doing deep work requires intense concentration and the simple habit of clicking “Turn Wifi Off” can serve as a symbolic gesture that jumpstarts a powerful ritual.
It’s motivating to think that your ability to focus is only as strong as your commitment to train it. If you want to stand out in the 21st century and dominate your field, you need to learn how to cultivate deep focus.
How will you stay focus and be more productive? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com
20 Ways You Can Become a Powerful Communicator
Some people seem to naturally know how to effectively communicate in a group setting. They can express themselves clearly and listen attentively without dominating the conversation.
Being a powerful communicator is important for several reasons, including building and maintaining relationships, achieving goals, resolving conflicts, improving productivity, leading and influencing others, advancing in your career, expressing yourself more confidently and authentically, and improving your mental and emotional well-being. Effective communication is an essential life skill that can benefit you in all aspects of your life.
1. Listen actively: Practice active listening by giving your full attention to the speaker and responding to what they are saying.
2. Use “I” statements: Speak from your own perspective and avoid placing blame or making accusations.
3. Avoid assumptions: Don’t make assumptions about what the other person is thinking or feeling.
4. Be clear: Express your thoughts and feelings clearly and concisely by getting to the point and avoid using jargon or overly complex language.
5. Show empathy: Show that you understand and care about the other person’s feelings.
6. Offer valuable insights: When speaking in a group, provide a valuable takeaway or actionable item that people can walk away with.
7. Be an active listener: Listen attentively and respond accordingly, incorporating your points into the conversation.
8. Choose the right time: Pick the most opportune time to speak to ensure that you have the group’s attention and can deliver your message without interruption.
9. Be the unifying voice: Step in and unify the group’s thoughts to calm down the discussion and insert your point effectively.
10. Keep responses concise: Keep responses short and to the point to show respect for others’ time.
11. Avoid unnecessary comments: Avoid commenting on everything and only speak when you have something important to say.
12. Cut the fluff: Avoid being long-winded and get straight to the point.
13. Prepare ahead of time: Sort out your points and practice them before speaking in a group.
14. Smile and be positive: Smile and nod along as others speak, to build a positive relationship and be respected when it’s your turn to speak.
15. Take responsibility: Take responsibility for your own actions and feelings.
16. Ask questions: Ask questions to clarify any confusion or misunderstandings.
17. Avoid interrupting: Allow the other person to finish speaking without interruption.
18. Practice active listening: Repeat what the other person said to ensure you have understood correctly.
19. Use your body language too: Use nonverbal cues such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language to convey your message and build rapport.
20. Be aware of the tone of your voice: it should be calm and assertive, not aggressive or passive.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can improve your communication skills and become a more powerful communicator, which can help you build better relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a more fulfilling life.
I you want to learn how to become more confident in life then you can join my weekly mentorship calls and 40+ online workshops at AweBliss.com so you can master your life with more success.
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