Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Is the internet addiction robbing you of your focus

Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” Alexander Graham Bell
Have you encountered a moment when you were focused on your job and the result was good?  The process of doing the job at hand and the result achieved without any distractions. Since you were immersed in the work it finished on time and made you happy.
But invariably this does not happen. Sometimes when you are thinking too much, you lose your strength to concentrate. This can take place during stress either at the office or even at home. Your mind is speeding in several directions.
Even now, when you are reading this post, there would be several thoughts racing through your mind and urge you to move on to another website.
While technology has progressed and made many things possible, it's addiction is one big negative.

Attention Fragmentation

Daniel Goleman in his book “FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence” talks about 3 kinds of focus, inner, other and outer. He says “For leaders to get results they need all three kinds of focus. Inner focus attunes us to our intuitions, guiding values, and better decisions. Other focus smooths our connections to the people in our lives. And outer focus lets us navigate in the larger world.

A leader tuned out of his internal world will be rudderless; one blind to the world of others will be clueless; those indifferent to the larger systems within which they operate will get blindsided.

I set aside my work time, but most times I surf the net to research on the subject I am writing about. And before I realize, I get distracted and dragged into several new things. I require to ward off this ambush, but I am not always successful. This state of fragmented attention slows down my productivity

There is a saying in India, " When a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are the pockets”. This saying showcases how motivation changes our perception and we see what our mind is preoccupied with. We live in daunting environments, rife with lures of all kinds that keep our mind busy. It's hard to restrain the mind. Our mind is like the pickpocket, preoccupied with distractions.

Focus on the important few

“Being selective—doing less—is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.” Tim Ferriss
 Media multitasking can lead to poor cognitive performance. It diminishes productivity.Humans have limited attention capacity. When it gets divided into several things, it is likely that we will not focus on any one thing at a time.

An interesting  McKinsey article   Recovering from information overload talks about  productivity loss due to multitasking work environments

David Rock in his book,"Your Brain at Work "  explains that performance can decrease by up to 50% when a person focuses on two mental tasks at once.

Finding time to work with focus has become a major challenge today for everyone.This is even more difficult when your work involves working on a computer. It is challenging to keep the benefits of internet connectivity but remains free of distraction.

The above is not just true for leadership but applies to all in our daily lives.

Cost of Digital Engagement

We pay a high price for all digital engagements.

While waiting for a flight last week at the airport, I noticed a young man reading a book. Every few minutes, he would shut the book and look at his phone to check messages. Curiosity made me ask him if he could switch his attention between the phone and the book so easily. His response was astonishing. He said it is very difficult for him to stay focused and read more than a page at a time. He gets this overwhelming urge to check his phone for messages. He then finds it hard to remember what he has read.

Imagine this happening to all our kids. They are glued to their phones, reading & sending messages.Will they be in a state to focus? Attention has become the number one issue with people. The cases of "Attention Deficit Disorder" are high and people take medication to improve their attention.

Simple things that worked for me in staying focused.

  1. Pinup a big board at the writing desk which shouts FOCUS FOR THE DAY
  2. Close all social media sites on the laptop when working on a goal.
  3. I have divided the time into social media time and work time. Maintain the discipline.
  4. Put the phone in the silent mode so that the WhatsApp notifications do not disturb
  5. I have built 15 min of solitude in my day. When I go for a walk, I sit down somewhere and just be with myself.
"'Your Life is too important to give it to distractions” - Robin Sharma
Is your internet addiction robbing you, of your attention and causing an information overload? How do you plan to free up and make time for reflection? I would love to hear your comments on what worked for you.

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