On the importance of Focus

Focus is the greatest casualty of the over-connected world we live in.   I’m not one of the people that advocates a slow life, with slow food and all that, but the effect that the inability to focus has on people’s productivity should not be overlooked.

When you get to work in the morning, are you able to sit down and start working where you left off the previous day?  Most likely you spend some time reading and replying to some emails, then if you are not diverted into a previously unimagined direction due to some request you’ve received, you might go back to your previous work.

Once you start, how long do you manage to stay focused on what you are doing without being interrupted by someone?   How long before you are interrupted by a coworker that wants to ask you a question?   How long can you stay without checking your email, Twitter or Facebook?

All these things, these distractions are part of our regular lives, but if you let yourself become to dependent on them, they will suck your attention away from what you want to or should be doing.   Being able to dedicate your undivided attention to something is key to being able to do well, whatever it is you’re trying to do.

Sometimes it is difficult to avoid having your mind wonder whenever your working on something which  you don’t find very interesting, but whenever such things are under your control you should attempt to focus your attention on a single project, per context.

What do I mean a single project per context?  Actually, I guess the question would be: “what do you mean by context?”

Consider that your life has at least two contexts: Personal and Professional.  Many times you have little influence on what comes onto your plate in the professional context, but if you do, you should try to apply your focus to one project at a time.

On the personal context, things should be easier to keep under control.  Are you going to study German this year?   Are you going to paint a picture?  Write a book?  Any of these things are individual project which may take up a large amount of time. In order to pursue these endeavours should try to take it one step at a time and focus on getting that part right.  You must always be striving to achieve a goal that is challenging but within reach.  This will help you retain your focus.

I’m writing about this subject right now more to remind me of them, than to really share all of this  with you my dear reader.  You see, though I know about all of this and have known about it for some time, I do tend to forget it.

We live in world where the number of things compete for your attention is huge and is growing day by day.   If it is hard to focus now, I can’t even begin to imagine just how hard it will be in another twenty years.