I’m sure you’ve come across articles on prominent news sites and journals which talk about how the real-time world wants everything right now. It is hampering our ability to focus and concentrate on the things that matter.
There are distractions galore, and even an extremely simple task – like reading this somewhat short article from the first word till the last – seems daunting…or worse, inconvenient. Why? Because there’s a good chance you have already opened Facebook to see if your friend posted the pictures of that amazing gadget he was planning to buy.
It’s not that we, as a society, don’t understand this. People talk about their inability to focus all the time. The question is how to get it back. How to concentrate, and concentrate effectively. What are the best steps that can help you regain this somewhat lost virtue?
Different people have different traits and a solution for one might not work for the other. For example, I’ve been trying to read more lately — an actual paper-based book. I try to increase the number of pages I read every day.
I also try to be away from my computer when I am reading. I don’t read in my home office. I prefer to go to a coffee shop and read. That way, even if I have an urge to stop reading and search for something on, lets say, Wikipedia, I cannot do it. I have no option but to stay focused and continue reading.
I’ve been also making use of my long ignored iPod touch to play games, solving brain puzzles and related stuff. I think you’ll need to try out a few things and see what works for you.
There was a time when I could not go beyond two pages of a book; I was hampered with an extreme inability to focus. But this isn’t something that can’t be reversed for most of us. I read about 60 pages of a book yesterday — so I would say things are starting to work for me.
While you might feel that you are losing opportunities every day and you should check out every other new thing, the real need of the hour is focus. Focus on what you do best without worrying about what the world is going to invent or talk about in the next minute. The time to take a step back is now. Take that step back…and take that room you’ve given yourself to improve your focus.
(Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has recently written an ebook on this very topic – Focus: A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction is available here in both a free and paid format. I’ve mentioned Leo’s work here at WorkAwesome in the past, and his work is solid. Give his latest a read; you won’t be disappointed.)
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