Did you know that the average person is exposed to enough information in a day to fill 174 newspapers (85 pages in length) from cover to cover? Think about this for a moment – it’s staggering. There is almost no place you can go without being confronting by information, even public bathrooms now have ads and promotions inside the stall vying for your attention. And, while we love our smart phones and tablets, it’s seductive to stay connected day and night.
Many clients will say to us that they believe that they are doing something wrong because they are feeling overwhelmed and distracted. We assure them that it’s not just a feeling – they are living in an overwhelming and distracting world – the question is what to do about it.
The answer is focus. While we are exposed to massive amounts of information on a daily basis, research shows that when we focus on a clear goal, it’s easier to distinguish the important things from the unimportant things. It’s a lot like going for a drive. When we get into our car to go to a specific destination we pass by many roads but will stay on the road that will get us to our destination quickly and safely. On the other hand, if we don’t have a clear destination, we may wander down dozens of streets or simply stop the car because we don’t know where we’re going.
Distractions are a lot like those other streets – they take you into interesting areas but they don’t necessarily take you to where you want to go.
For this week, we would ask that you make a list of the most important things that you need to focus on this week and use that information to set your goals (and weed out your distractions). We would also ask that you make time in your day for at least one 90-minute block of time to focus on one thing that matters to you. Why ninety minutes? Because the newest brain research shows it to be the maximum amount of time that we can really focus on anything. Past 90 minutes we are less effective, less creative and less able to produce anything of value. So, pick something that needs your focus and aim to devote a full 90 minutes to it and see if it makes a difference in your day.
You may be thinking that asking you to focus on a task for 90 minutes doesn’t really help with all the incoming data. To that we would answer, “The 90 minutes is the beginning of a practice – the practice of putting your needs first. Once you have that mastered, we will be asking you to define and claim your purpose in life so that you can start to live a more focused life. A life in which you know what is important, and what is not important, based on whether it fits your purpose and aligns with your vision.”