(2 minute read)

“The person who focuses on fewer things goes further than the person distracted by many.”

Shane Parrish

Tucked within the pages of author Johann Hari’s best-selling book, ‘Stolen Focus’, he shares a disturbing fact. During a 24-hour period, the average person touches their phone as many as 2617 times! (Then, there are those who never let go of their phones.)

Office-based workers attention spans are diminishing at a rapid rate (this doesn’t incorporate those working from home listening for the dog, or the end-of-cycle ‘beep’ from their washing machine.)

In 2017, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings boldly claimed, “At Netflix, we compete with sleep, and currently we’re winning!”

It seems that we have become more familiar with switching our focus, from one thing/person to the next – but at what cost?

Without intention to our focus, we are lured into performing shallow work, where we skim more than we deep dive.

Furthermore, neuroscientists have confirmed that we can only focus on 1 or 2 things at a time. While we may believe we can multi-task, it is really an illusion. When multi-taking, we are rapidly switching between tasks and/or conversations – not juggling them all with finesses and accuracy, as we may believe.

Getting our Focus Back.

In his book, Johann Hari identifies several things we can do to regain our focus, and to communicate with greater intent and purpose. Amongst these are the types of foods we eat, the amount, type, and timing of our sleep patterns, setting parameters or personal rules around the use of personal devices, and the design or layout of our work or study spaces.

Of course, the first step is improving our awareness of how focused we are, or how ‘present’ we are with our family, friends, and colleagues.

What step can you begin with?

Whatever you choose to do, do it slowly and methodically. As Hari reminds us in his book, “Slowness nurtures attention, and speed shatters it.”


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