Dazzling Distractions

Dazzling Distractions

We live in the golden age of distraction. Would you agree? Study after study shows our attention spans are dwindling. Why? Maybe it has to do with the mini computer that is in everyone’s purse, pocket or hands. Market researcher Dscout says that Americans touch their phones 2,617 times per day on average! What?! How do we get anything done?

For fun, I looked up the attention span of a squirrel on Answer ™. Whether true or not, it makes a lot of sense. It said that a squirrel has an attention span on normal things for about one second and about four minutes on acorns and nuts. We, like the cute furry rodents, need something important to focus on to curb the distractions.

I have noticed that for us to increase our attention spans, it is essential to know our mission and purpose and goals. Without this knowledge, darn near anything can compete for our easily diverted attention. I have a successful client who, like most of us if we are honest, struggles to stay on task with her work from home business. She calls being present and focused, “butt in chair” time. With practice, her productivity has increased along with her pride and happiness.

We cannot improve our focus unless we know for what we are improving it. My suggestion is to write down your top 3-5 daily or weekly goals and use those for a starting point. I recently read about an academic scholar who was once a voracious reader but now has trouble completing a book. His fate has become a common fate… my fate, too. I was an active child but also a lover of books. My father took me to the library often and I would power through a stack of books before they had to be returned. I am in the process of retraining myself how to read a book without the urge to check my phone. And it is DIFFICULT.

Older Americans who have not grown up with a smartphone are superior in the ability to focus on complex tasks without getting bored or frustrated. This was discovered by Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor and author of The Attention Merchants.

I have come up with a four step plan to increase attention span and decrease distractibility.

1- Write down your daily or weekly goals on paper or electronically.

2- Keep electronics away. If the task requires them, resist the urge to use non-related apps or visit other sites. This will take practice and patience.

3- Use a time management app like Pomodoro Timer or another. Which will build into it step #4

4- Reward your sustained and improved attention. Pick something meaningful to you. I plan to roll out my back and leg muscles when I finish this post. A self chosen reward will reinforce the behavior you want to increase- better attention and ability to focus.

Let’s swim against the tide and improve our focus. Together! I predict the world will belong to those who can focus in a sea of distractions without drowning.

Need more help? More accountability? I may be just the coach you need.

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