Take Back Control of Your Attention

Make No Mistake, The Biggest Battle in America is for Your Attention

The news media wants your attention. Facebook/IG/Snap/TikTok/LinkedIn want your attention. I want your attention! You get so used to being distracted that you can’t even focus on those around you.

Do you find yourself struggling with time management? Do you struggle with focus at work? Let’s be honest. When is the last time you sat at your desk for one hour without diverting your attention, al-all?

A  recent NYT article about productivity labeled time management as a battle for attention. The story argues that, while humans can be very productive, our attention is divided between so many different priorities that we often fail to budget it correctly.

We all have a billion different things that grab our attention: news, phones, music, work, kids, colleagues––the list goes on. Writers are known for taking intentional retreats to remote locations so that they can get the focus and attention they need to finish big projects. But as nice as it sounds to have a temporary escape to a tropical island or picturesque mountain home, these types of getaways are near-impossible for most.

So what if, rather than “escaping” or ignoring the busyness of life, we took inventory? What if we made a list of all the things that affect our focus, and actually took time to understand how and why they do what they do? Here are a few examples:

  1. Your smartphone.  A friend pings you, then your boss sends you an email, then apple notifies you from ten apps. When we’re constantly online, we’re easily sidetracked from being present in our own lives. Track how long your sessions are on various mobile apps, or download a tracker that keeps tabs on your screen time––then evaluate what you get (or don’t) out of the time you spend.
  2. Your job. While it may be a high-priority goal to become MORE efficient at work, chances are your attention has been drained lately. With so many of us on forced WFH, you may feel constantly “on call,” failing to take adequate time to recharge and relax. If you’re one of the 50% of the 2020 workforce who is dispassionate about his/her job, this is even worse–you’ll feel drained, unmotivated, and prone to questioning WHY you have to do what’s required of you.  So what do you do?  Start to draw boundaries at work. Allocate hours for work. Start practicing deep work. Use the Pomodoro Technique (25 minutes on 5 minutes off); that means for 25 minutes there are NO distractions.
  3. Your energy level. Pounding iced coffee at your desk can be a major distraction from the root cause of your problems with focus–you’re low on NATURAL energy. If you’re unable to fully concentrate, you may need to reevaluate your sleeping, eating, and movement practices.
  4. Master the mornings. Set the tone for the day with some meditation, journaling and a ten minute workout. When you journal in the morning, make a goal not to be distracted. Having a routine set in place to complete in the morning, will be extremely beneficial insetting the tone for the rest of the day. For more about mastering the mornings, and habit-stacking check out this post of ours!

Once you’ve identified your core distractions, the next step is to manage your energy. As work-life balance expert Adam Grant, “attention management is the art of focusing on getting things done for the right reasons, in the right places, and at the right moments.”

There will always be distractions. Core to overcoming your personal distractibility is finding unique ways to focus–and things that you’re passionate about to focus on–that can transcend your distraction. Remind yourself of who benefits from it, too!

Time management and working to handle the battle for attention is something we work on at UWB. For more ways to improve attention and focus, join our Ultimate Well-Being(UWB) program today!

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