A recent study revealed that in the United States, the average smartphone user receives 45.9 push notifications per day, and many of us exceed that number. From Facebook to Instagram to Twitter to WhatsApp to Gmail, everything is constantly vying for our attention.
As a result of this overload, we’re experiencing a collective inability to focus at our highest potential and a reality where the majority of us are consistently fighting off some sort of urge to do something else.
(Fun Fact: Even as I’ve just started to write this article I’ve already seen my phone light up twice with notifications. I’ve now followed my own rules and have turned it over to lock in on the task at hand–more on this later.)
Even if you are part of the dying breed of individuals who have sworn off social media, although you finding and reading this article suggests otherwise, we all seem to be having an incredibly difficult time staying focused.
And with every useless scroll through our Instagram news feed and with every endless YouTube video rabbit hole we fall into, we only further shrink our attention span and strengthen the programming that convinces us that this is normal behaviour.
Assuming that part of why you clicked on this article is because you do have something that you ideally would like to focus on and ultimately accomplish, I’d like to share with you the best tactic I’ve personally found (and some bonus ones) to “lock in.” Believe it or not, this tactic is not a specific exercise, but is instead designed for you to realize that you still have an incredible ability to focus within you. It hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s just been misguided.
In fact, it’s likely getting more use than you could ever imagine.
The best way to explain this further is by using an example. Think of the last time you either: A) lost your phone, or B) forgot to bring a charger and realized that your phone was about to die.
The moment that either of those realities kick in for most of us, we immediately enter a state where nothing else matters. In scenario A, we search everywhere possible, call it from any other device we can get our hands on, and seek out the assistance of everyone available. In scenario B, despite being an introvert on the daily, we suddenly find ourselves engaging in conversation with everyone by asking for a charger, and if one can’t be found we start planning our exit no matter how much fun we’re having pre-low battery.
We’ve all experienced and have seen this before. When assessed like this, it likely sounds like a form of insanity–and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is–but from a completely different perspective, it’s actually fully “locked in” determination.
You see, we all have the capacity to focus on one particular thing and give all of ourselves to it, it’s just that our auto-pilot has become the opposite because of the sheer number of distractions we are exposed to and have become addicted to.
So rather than looking outside of yourself for some practice or technique that’s going to help you focus and finish writing that book, completing the homework, or finally send out those wedding thank you cards, look within and realize that you are still a determination powerhouse just waiting to be re-guided.
Bonus Tips: 1) When working on something important, put your phone on silent and either put it in another room or face down on your desk. 2) Consider turning off notifications and instead just check certain apps at particular points in the day. I’ve personally turned off all notifications from Facebook, Instagram and all audible email pushes.
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