The interplay of light and form and how it interacts often fascinates Artists. There is something else about light in terms of it’s power.  If you diffuse light it spreads weakly in all sorts of directions. If you focus that same light by using a lens light can make a laser beam and cut through steel. Such is the power of focus and concentration. It seems to be in ever decreasing supply but why?

Who is in control? You or technology?

So what does this have to do with my being a digital crack-head”?  For a start, every time you open an email or get a Like on Facebook you receive a dopamine reward. That dopamine reward is training you to come back for more with the average person checking their phone or other device a staggering 85 times a day. That is what keeps you going back for more and just like an addict you become hooked.

Simply put, that means the technology is control. Not YOU

The really scary thing is a lot of kids devices and apps have this built in. Gifts, rewards and coins magically ‘show up’ the next morning and just like Pavlov’s dog (which created a conditioned stimulus for a conditioned response, otherwise known as classic conditioning) the first thing they want to do is check their device, training them in the most insidious of ways to always be plugged in.

So much of life in the 21st century works against focus and concentration. Women are often pride themselves on their ability of multi-task; it’s a badge of honour. The truth is your brain can only focus on one thing at a time and if you choose to do two things at once your performance on both tasks drops.  When you multi-task or spread your attention too thinly you are effectively training your brain to be less effective than your could be. You are engineering yourself to under perform and even lower your IQ.

More uninterruptible than ever makes it hard to maintain focus

The world is speeding up everything is getting faster. I can run my business remotely from anywhere in the world.  Our lives are more efficient.  We are doing more with less and we can be connected 24 7… If we choose to be… And therein lies the problem. When is enough, enough? How do you unplug and take down time? Remember the dopamine rush? Your brain is not your friend! It wants you to believe that you have 150 friends and to satisfy them it needs you to get involved in gossip and be fascinated by what is happening ‘over there’ with everyone else, which makes little to NO difference!

You only have so much attention on any given day. Every time you use it you have less of it for the day. Every time you are faced with a choice or you vacillate in your decision making you use more of it up needlessly. Sure, it gets restored through sleep and are you using your attention as effectively as you could?

It’s up to you

Take control of your situation, your environment and how you manage your time and your attention. Actively make choices about where your attention and focus goes. Your brain is wired up on the fly.  You either ‘wire up’ it up deliberately and intentionally or you get what you get!  Below are 11 simple but effective ways to help you sharpen and maintain your focus.

11 Things to do today to bring back focus

  1. Limit the times you check emails. You are either following your own agenda or someone else’s. The moment you open emails and begin responding you fall into someone else’s agenda.
  2. Say good morning to your beloved before checking your smart phone or device. Better yet, ban it from the bedroom.
  3. Close the extra windows on your device. This may be the only way to remove the temptation to jump from one application to another.
  4. One device at a time, one screen at a time. I noticed my son was using his iPad the other day and to my surprise it is possible to watch a movie and play a game all on the one screen at the same time.
  5. Use Airplane mode. Remove unwanted interruptions and limit distractions when you are working on a project or when you really want to connect with the people around you.
  6. Hit the unsubscribe button. Go through your inbox and unsubscribe from anything and everything that does not add value to your life.
  7. Quit multi tasking and give your full attention to what you are doing. It’s about quality not quantity.
  8. Have a TV free night and have a conversation instead or play a board game.
  9. Draw clear boundaries for when you are available and stick to  them. Try closing the door for a given period of time. If people have been use to you always being available it will take time to retrain them.
  10. Keep the space around you clear and organised. Remove clutter, especially from your work space and see what a difference it makes.
  11. Learn to say NO! Only commit to do what you want to do.

You will make improve your overall sense of health and well being, get more done, feel more in control and even boost your IQ.

Oh by the way, this list is a precursor to Living Consciously.