Although I managed to plaster on a smile in public, my face wore a frown in the privacy of my home. You see, when you are living a highly distracted life, nothing -- not even the beautiful faces of your loving family -- can bring you joy.
Every morning I go off to a small studio behind my house to write. I try to ignore all email and phone calls until lunchtime. Then I launch into the sometimes frantic busy-ness of a tightly scheduled day. But that protected time in the morning is when I get my really productive work done.
For the first time in my life I can do whatever I want to do, yet I sometimes find myself wishing the hours of the day would move faster. I am filled with self-doubt about my ability to do something meaningful. I do not think I am alone in thinking these things.
We live in an age where we are constantly fed messages that we should try to do as much as we can as fast as we can; to live at maximum efficiency. Except when we shouldn't. Sometimes I feel like we are multi-tasking ourselves right past the point of it all anyway.
Being able to keep your focus amidst the daily din of distraction makes you better able to use whatever talents you need to apply -- whether making a business plan or a cheese soufflé. The more prone to distraction, the worse we do.
Mutual focus -- paying attention to each other -- is the key ingredient in rapport. We can't have chemistry with someone without such full focus. And given the zillion distractions we all face, the need to make a conscious effort to create these rich moments has never been greater.
Distraction dilutes brain power, frazzles the nerves and results in non-optimum outcomes. The cure is to do one thing at a time. That's it in a nutshell. Do just what you're doing, and don't do anything else.
It would be great to go cold turkey, but the reality is most of us are going to continue grabbing for our devices. But at least we can be somewhat intentional. Think of these like a nicotine patch. You're not giving up your drug. You're weaning yourself off it with a different delivery system.
Eating is only one of a thousand things to do when you're bored. If you're not hungry, you can choose to redirect your attention by making a conscious decision to focus on an activity other than eating (or thinking about eating).
We might resolve to respond to whatever arises with loving kindness, exploring what might be discovered. Enter life, in the raw and sweaty, and the test gets real darn fast. Getting distracted from good intention can be tricky and takes a bit of doing in the reframing department.
There are a great many ways to work at maintaining and even improving your memory functions as you get older, and there's no question that both mental and physical stimulation keep your brain sharp. But the simple truth is that our memories may not be fading as quickly as we think.
It is important for us to realize what too much multitasking can do to our brains. Some interesting brain research from Your Brain at Work by David Rock tells us that to focus more effectively, we must retrain our mind for uninterrupted concentration.
Like many digital natives, your children are probably on their way to becoming lifelong multitaskers (or so you think). There's only one problem with this scenario: there is no such thing as multitasking -- at least not in the way you may think of it.