One word that is getting a lot of attention these days is “distracted.” Whether we are responding to alerts on our phone, checking social media, flipping on the TV, or scrolling through a newsfeed, most of us struggle with staying focused. That’s why I selected today’s quote, which says, “In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.” Pico Iyer
In the digital age, most of us have become accustomed to juggling multiple activities at once. In some cases, this works out well, such as when we are doing a “mindless task” (e.g., folding laundry) while pursuing a mental activity (e.g., listening to a podcast). However, when we pursue multiple mental tasks at once, we actually stop thinking about one task to think about another. If you’ve ever been behind a car whose driver is looking at his/her phone, you know this is true! Although we may not realize it, we are likely missing some aspects of each endeavor, and we are exhausting our brains in the process.
Today I challenge you to resist the temptation to multi-task. Allow yourself the opportunity to do just one thing at a time. I know this isn’t always easy. Children need us, coworkers text us, the phone rings, etc. But these are interruptions, not distractions. As far as it is within your control, make the effort to give your full attention to only one thing at a time. Admittedly, if this isn’t your normal approach, it may feel awkward. You may feel the need to reach for your phone after only a few minutes. If you struggle to stay focused, you can set a timer and use something like the Pomodoro technique. Another option is to put yourself in a physical situation that will make distractions less accessible. For instance, I’m sitting on an airplane as I write this. Since there isn’t much else to do, it’s easy to stay focused on writing.
We all have limits for how long we can maintain concentration. Still, we most likely can improve our ability to focus by mindfully seeking to flex this muscle.
Are you easily distractable? How long do you think you can focus on only one thing?