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. To spell it out a little more completely, here are six types of distraction-causing things that you can easily remove, in order to get a little more focused:
1. Shut off all other input. No music, no videos, no movies, no texting. Unless you need it for work (or whatever it is you’re doing), turn it off until you are ready to give it 100 percent of your attention. Having media on in the background actually uses up a large portion of the neurons that could otherwise be employed on the task at hand. Watching Game of Thrones while you do your taxes might not be a good idea.
2. If you need to use the Internet, block out all other web activities. Do not check Twitter or Facebook — close those tabs — and shut off any alerts, badges or other ways they have of grabbing your attention. Do not click on any links or bookmarks that do not take you directly to a site relevant to the task you are doing.
3. Filter your email. You may have to use email for work, but you don’t have to be subjected to every notification you get from a social networking site or forwarded joke from your great aunt. These interruptions cost brain power, and it all adds up. Use preferences to switch off as many notifications as you can. Keep personal emails to a minimum. Better yet, get separate accounts for work and personal emails so that you can work without interruption. This will be good for your personal time, too, since work emails will not intrude.
4. Tame your phone. The phone is there to serve you, not the other way around. Unless you really need to be contacted, keep it off or at least silent. Stop checking it and switch off texting notices and alerts. Do not even look at it except to make a necessary call. If you can leave it turned off in another room, all the better.
5. Keep non-essential talk to a minimum. When you are trying to focus on a task, gabbing is just another form of irrelevant input. Cooperatively working towards a common goal with people we like is one of life’s most satisfying activities, but listening to a coworker dump about their bad date isn’t helping you finish your job. Without being rude, just keep moving things towards silent, efficient completion. If, on the other hand, it is time to talk, give speaking and listening your full attention.
These are just a few of the basics, but you get the idea. Pulling the plug on all these inputs can be disconcerting at first. You may feel disoriented, anxious or alone. So take it easy and undo distraction at your own pace. Once you get a taste for it, it will take on a life of its own. Being present and concentrated feels good, and is immensely more fulfilling.
This doesn’t just count for work. If you’re playing a game, play the game. If you’re making love, make love. Chop wood, carry water. You get the idea.
Read the Concentration Series.
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The chocolate Labrador retriever named Boogie ran most of the 13.1 miles in Saturday’s Evansville event and then was taken to Animal Control. Owner Jerry Butts tells the Evansville Courier & Press (http://bit.ly/17dIIR1 ) that the 100-pound dog slipped his leash Friday night. It was his fourth escape.
Butts says Boogie now has a microchip and an appointment to be neutered.
Boogie finished the race in 2 hours, 15 minutes. That’s better than more than half of the race’s participants.
Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com
For most of this century researchers have put forth conflicting studies, proving that those of us with children were either happier or less so than those without. “All Joy And No Fun,” Jennifer Senior titled her compilation of studies showing parenting didn’t make people happy. (Her book of the same title is due out this spring.) Not so fast, reported a march of researchers since then, which found the opposite. And then there were the nuances and permutations: fathers are happy, but not mothers; parents of young children are less happy than those whose kids have grown.
The Pew Research Center weighs in today with an analysis of government data that has something for everyone. To those who argue that parenting brings happiness, this latest research proffers that American parents of children under the age of 18 find “much more meaning in the time spent with children than in the time spent at work.” But to those who believe that there is an inverse relationship between parenting and happiness, there is the parallel finding that these “parents find caring for their children to be much more exhausting than the work they do for pay.”
So we are enriched by our kids, but all that enrichment can be tiring? Makes sense to me.
Here are some of the specifics:
Parents who describe child-care experiences as “very meaningful”: 62%
Parents who describe paid work as “very meaningful”: 36%
Percent who rate child-care activities as “very tiring”: 12%
Percent who rate paid work “very tiring”: 5%
Parents who report being “very happy” while caring for children: 35%
Parents who report being “very happy” while doing paid work: 19%
The results are based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, specifically its “time diaries.” Respondents enter real time information about what they are doing during different segments of each hour, and indicate their emotional state while doing it.
So, what is your emotional state while reading this piece about various levels of happiness? Do the findings jibe with emotions in your own life? And I have one further question — who said that happiness is the purpose of parenting anyway?