These days we have demands for our attention anywhere and everywhere we look. Our minds are taken away by the incessant social media notifications, the boss requesting a project deadline from us, our partner at home asking for us to do something on the weekend and our loving kids asking to be taken to sport or shopping with their friends. We are literally surrounded by energy and attention suckers (even if they are people we love) or at times things we love to do.
Our attention is our biggest asset. It is our most powerful currency, like gold or platinum, yet we often do not even realise we are handing it away to everyone without being able to manage it ourselves. Constant giving out of attention leads to burnout, where no one’s needs get met, and a long road to recovery often ensues. Here are some indicators that you are having problems focusing:
You daydream regularly
You can’t tune out distractions
You lose track of your progress
The good news is there are things that you can do and skills that you can cultivate to help support you to focus and concentrate and genuinely use your attention to your advantage instead of being hijacked by it. So how do we plan to choose how to utilise our attention a little more closely?
- We can make sure we are giving our attention to people, things, activities that are aligned with our values.
- We can learn Mindfulness or Meditation to enhance our ability to focus and discern what to do with our attention.
- Remove distractions (turn off all of your notifications). Technology is meant to serve us, we are not the servant. Choose to interact with your technology, when and how it works for you in your life.
- Choose to do only one thing at a time. It is not possible to multitask when you are truly giving your presence and attention to one thing at a time. Switching your attention takes time and energy.
- Be present, tune into all of your senses to ground and connect you to the task or person in front of you, Smell, Taste
- Eliminate Distractions, wear headphones if needed, turn off music, T.V, background sound.
- Time Yourself, work in 25 minute increments then choose to have an active walk around break before coming back to your task and continuing.
It can be healthy to think of your attention like a spotlight, you shine it in one place and it illuminates everything under the light, outside of this the area is dark. Your ability to choose, how, when, why and who you use your spotlight with effectively dictates the success or otherwise of your life.