We’ve just passed the two-year mark of the start of the pandemic and we’re still processing the aftereffects: We’ve become more attached to technology to connect and work — we find news at our fingertips, continuously streaming the crisis in the Ukraine, the political divisions within the US, hate crimes and more. Many of us are feeling overwhelmed and less able to focus. What’s going on?
Studies have pointed to a variety of causes:
- Easy access to information has distracted us from focus;
- Lack of face-to-face connection has increased feelings of isolation;
- Streaming news videos have hijacked our hippocampus and placed us on high alert .
And then there’s social media and its implications. It’s a daunting list, and yet, we still have choices we can make to get back on track.
Self-awareness is key. Start with noticing how you are spending your time. When you start a task, do you remain focused on it? What distracts you? In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newton builds the case for the importance of complete focus to garner the full extent of our intellectual capacity. It’s a muscle that needs to be worked consistently and mindfully.
Time blocking is a popular method to encourage focus. With it, you divide your day into blocks of time and dedicate the blocks to specific tasks. This is not something that falls naturally in my way of doing things. That said, I found Cal Newton’s suggestion to create a plan, turn off the distractions, write down any stray ideas or tasks that come to mind while working off to the side, and then (after the fact) “rework” the time block to reflect how I actually spent my time. It was eye-opening and allowed me to make some changes in how I focus and accomplish my work loads. It might for you too.
This Week’s Challenge: Give time blocking a try with Cal Newton’s twist. You can find more information on his website www.calnewport.com.
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