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
5 Secrets to Being a Leader Worth Following
Business is tricky. You’re taught young that business is business – Check your emotions at the door. But recent years have proven that business is more than an emotionally devoid institution run for profits. Business is about making an impact on the world, and if you want to make an impact on the world, you have to start with your team. Because if your team isn’t willing to follow you, why should anyone else? (more…)
6 Ways to Balance a 9-5 and a Work From Home Job at the Same Time
For most people, when the clock strikes 5pm it’s quitting time. When you work a second job, it’s time to refocus and prepare for working for the rest of the night. The truth is, working one job doesn’t always cut it. Some households rely on a second income to make ends meet. When you have a part-time work from home job and a nine to five, it can be difficult to keep up with your responsibilities and find the right balance between fulfilling your commitment to both jobs without losing your mind. (more…)
10 of the Best Tips to Stop Yourself From Multitasking and Focus More Effectively
While multitasking is often thought to be an added skill, it tends to cause more harm than good. Focusing on one task at a time is more effective than having a pile of tasks to do. Researchers argue that you are more poised to increase your productivity by boosting your focus and avoiding multitasking. (more…)
7 Key Elements to Changing Your Mind to a Business Mindset
Self-development is important and if you’ve decided to work on yourself, you’re already on the right path. The important thing to know is that it’s absolutely possible to become a completely different person if you put in enough time and effort. (more…)
Do Not Let Fear Beat You: 6 Ways to Boost Your Courage Right Now
5 Ways to Supercharge Your Teams Motivation With Mindfulness
8 Life Changing Benefits of Journaling Daily
5 Quick Ways to Combat Stress as an Entrepreneur
5 Effective Tricks Successful Entrepreneurs Use in Their Business Negotiations
55 Inspirational Quotes That Will Change Your Life
30 Famous Quotes That Will Inspire Success In You
(Images) 52 Motivational Picture Quotes For An Epic Year Of Success
72 Positive Thinking Quotes For More Inner Strength & Growth
(Images) 56 Inspirational Picture Quotes That Will Motivate Your Mind, Body & Soul
3 Prince EA Videos To Change Humanities Path To Greatness
(Video) What Is Success? An Entrepreneurial Story To Inspire You
(Inspirational Video) What If Today You Knew You Were Going To Take Your Last Breath?
How To Make Enough Money From A Blog To Quit Your Job – Kate McKibbin
How Finding Your Passion And Becoming An Entrepreneur Can Lead To Happiness – Chiquita Searle
- Success Advice4 weeks ago
7 Ways to Make Yourself Better at Managing Your Money
- Success Advice4 weeks ago
The Daily Routines of 35 Wildly Successful Women Throughout History
- Success Advice4 weeks ago
A Salesman’s Guide to Everyday Conversation With Strangers
- Motivation3 weeks ago
How Positive Self-Talk Boosts Motivation and Productivity
- Success Advice4 weeks ago
4 Things You Should Do if Your Drive for Success is Taking a Toll on Your Mental Health
- Success Advice3 weeks ago
Embrace a Growth Mindset to Achieve an Infinite Amount of Success
- Entrepreneurs4 weeks ago
5 Secrets to Building a Strong and Dominant Sales Team
- Life3 weeks ago
3 Keys to Getting the Results You Want in Life