I wanted a life this beautiful. Flower petals in my water, sunshine that I could enjoy throughout the day, luscious air, smashing ideas, art everywhere, and a magical ability to execute all my ideas in a snap of my fingers.
I did have a life that beautiful. But there were times I worked 100+ hours a week. It wasn’t ideal. And after a while, the thrilling beauty goes dull if you feel like a robot on a treadmill.
Are you there right now, work-work-working with diminished returns?
If you’re spinning your wheels all day and wondering exactly why so many people seem to accomplish so much and you just don’t, even though you work so much… Or, why some people seem to have free time and leisure time and you are working 24-7 for some reason that is not really clear…
Focus is often the big difference between the two scenarios.
Multitasking, distractions, disorder and clutter, plain and simple, can be the difference between your super-productive genius life and your dull life of working wayyyy too long for very little reward.
Simple shifts can make it so much easier to dive deep into your day and focus in on what’s in front of you…!
It turns out that a wandering mind can make you unhappy.
Matt Killingsworth, PhD, while studying at Harvard University developed an iPhone app called Track Your Happiness. The purpose of this app was an unprecedented way to study causal relationships (cause and effect correlations) that sought to determine what makes people happy or unhappy. He used his app as a tool to track over 15,000 people from ages ranging from 18 to 80 from a vast range of social-economic backgrounds, marital statuses and education levels. Those who chose to participate in this study received, at random times throughout the day, a signal from the app. They were then asked questions related to their level of happiness, what they were doing at the moment, how they felt, and were they thinking about something other than they were currently doing.
This studied collected 650,000 real-time reports from over 80 countries, which was never done before.
What they discovered from this immense amount of data was that overall, 47% of the time people are thinking about something other than what they are currently supposed to be focusing on. They also found that people are significantly less happy when their mind is wandering, and this is irrespective of what the person is doing. People’s minds tend to wander while in traffic, during boring meetings. Mind-wandering that would normally be considered a happy escape did not play a significant factor in how the person felt overall. (You can read more HERE)
Matt Killingsworth’s TEDx talk is all about presence:
Effects of Interruptions on Your Focus:
Stanford magazine reported: “Clifford Nass, a Stanford sociologist who conducted some of the first tests on multitasking, has said that those who can’t resist the lure of doing two things at once are “suckers for irrelevancy.” There is some evidence that we’re not just suckers for that new text message, or addicted to it; it’s actually robbing us of brain power, too.”
The ring of a cell phone call, the buzz of an email alert, or the beep of a social media notification can often interrupt people during a task.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University that included Alessandro Acquist, professor of Information Technology and psychologist Eyal Peer constructed an experiment to measure if being interrupted could affect brainpower. 136 subjects were asked to read a short passage and then answer questions based on what they just read. Subjects were separated into 3 groups; two of the groups were told they might be contacted during the test for “further instructions” via an instant message and were interrupted twice, while the other group took the test without being told any such information and without any interruption.
A second test was run using the same subjects. As in the first experiment, the subjects in the first group were not interrupted. This time though, only the second group was interrupted by an instant message, while the third group was told they might receive a message, but they did not.
The New York Times reported: “…during this first test, both interrupted groups answered correctly 20 percent less often than members of the control group. In other words, the distraction of an interruption, combined with the brain drain of preparing for that interruption, made our test takers 20 percent dumber. That’s enough to turn a B-minus student (80 percent) into a failure (62 percent).”
DO YOU NEED MORE FOCUS?
Handle difficult tasks late in the morning: According to the Observer article, “The Science of How to Stay Focused: Psychology, Slow Habits, and Chewing Gum”, people are most distracted between 12:00 and 4:00 PM and usually burn out around 2:00 PM. It is easier to remain focused, and handle intensive mental projects that require focus, before you become susceptible to being distracted. An idea was offered here: “Focus on intensive tasks in the late morning, and take a break or go for a walk in the afternoon.”
You can train your mind!
In Entrepreneur, David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work, believes we can train our minds much like a muscle. “Practice concentration by turning off all distractions and committing your attention to a single task. Start small, maybe five minutes per day, and work up to larger chunks of time. If you find your mind wandering, just return to the task at hand. “It’s just like getting fit,” Rock says. “You have to build the muscle to be focused.””
Don’t expect to turn over everything you do all at once. Practice is cumulative and it’s worth doing.
Organize + Declutter Your Desk!
Clutter is distracting- plain and simple. Clutter is full of memories, actions you need to take, distracting messages and just simply serves as a reflection of chaos rather than order.
Your home mirrors your mind. To focus your mind, clear your space!!!
Schedule Specific Times in Your Day To Check E-mails and Cell Phone:
The Observer article cited above added an interesting bit: “The average office worker is distracted every 3 minutes. And according to research from the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University it can take up to 25 minute just to regain focus after being distracted.”
What does that mean?
Perhaps it’s turning the alarm off your phone or computer that buzzes or vibrates with every new message that comes in? Maybe it’s setting up times to check and return emails? Maybe it’s logging out of your social media accounts at work (unless, of course, they are your work!)!
This clear space with less distraction is game-changing to get things done and do them gorgeously!!!
More focus = More done in less time = More brilliance and aliveness =
This is everything amazing in a snowball of momentum that grows and grows!
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