I’d love to say that I am a devoted person. You know? One man, one career, one goal and heck, one device. The only thing I am truly devoted to, in that sense, is the one man aspect. But the rest? Let’s just say it’s a work in progress. I even have two blogs, so you know what I’m talking about.

You know me, right? My posts are either always reflective or introspective or intstructional or moody. See? Not even a single emotion there. I’m all over the place! And yet, I am supposedly mindful, balanced and what-have-you in a 5 foot 6 inch frame that is a bit too heavy in the wrong places. Well, at least I am trying to be Zen.

Not going to lie. Focus is hard. Especially when you’re juggling a job, two blogs, a family, the cooking, the cleaning, the bills, the endless to-do lists and you find yourself wondering where the time went when you could have just done something focused for , maybe 15 minutes. But, honestly, if I just took the ‘work’ bit, I’ve more or less managed to crack the code. I’ll go into more detail in a post on my other blog soon (yes, the other blog; not the one you’re reading now).

The one thing, though, that appears to have helped with my focus to a large extent, is limiting myself to one device at a time. Now, as a blogger and social media user/consultant, I need my laptop and my smartphone. No question about it. The problem, however, is trying to use both at the same time.

Why?

Because, while you are working on the laptop, if your mind sees/hears a ping or a notification light from your phone kept two feet away, your focus shifts, your attention breaks down and you lose your place. If your phone is visible in your peripheral vision, your mind will think of it and also reach for it, almost instinctively. Think of it as being pulled away in the middle of a favourite book and forgetting to add a bookmark while at it!

Using just one device at a time can help re-build your focus. Click to Tweet

I recently got a new phone and as with all things shiny and new, I caught myself staring at it (okay fine, taking way too many selfies in portrait mode!) and clicking pictures of miniscule prints on my new carpet to test the clarity. As you can see, I spend my days productively.

And then about a week ago, I realised that my eyes were actually beginning to hurt at the end of the day. This hadn’t happened since forever and the only thing that had changed recently was the new phone! (Let’s also ignore the fact that I am approaching middle age and may need glasses. Focus, people!)

That’s when I stepped back and decided to separate myself from my phone. Physically. While I work on the laptop, I put my phone in another room. This also means I have to get up and walk to the other room whenever it rings, which is good exercise. My wobbling cellulite will disagree with this being a ‘good’ thing.

I also turned off all notifications on the new phone, except that some seem to creep through anyway! Not sure what new-fangled settings I have to fix to make them go away, but I shall persevere in this endeavour.

I had anyway removed Facebook and Twitter from the phone but was logging in through the mobile browser to ‘catch up quickly’ on a few things. Shall avoid that as well here on out. The only time I need Twitter/Facebook in real-time is when I am attending an event or doing a Facebook Live video, which I do from another device anyway.

Instagram is another silent beast which occupies a LOT of my time. Since it’s completely phone based I end up spending way more time than I intend on it. Plus I end up typing for too long in response to direct messages and that causes my dormant spondylosis to act up and that’s not a good thing. Instagram has its uses but it’s very miniscule compared to my other platforms. So I am taking a conscious decision to step back from daily posts there. We’ll see how that goes.

This started as a very different post and kind of went haywire. But the good news is that I managed to write this post in under 25 minutes, from start to finish. Not bad, eh?

In essence, what I wanted to say was this: If you’re finding it hard to focus, eliminate multiple devices from your space. Want to work on the laptop? Do that. Sit with the laptop, open ONE tab, type out what you need and finish it.  Want to scroll through Twitter/Facebook/Instagram? No problem. Do that. But only do ONE of those at a time. Don’t switch/jump between applications every 5 minutes.

My recommendation is to find your personal time-wasters and either eliminate them completely or at least cut back on how often you use them during the day.

Take it slow. And before you know it, you will find that you can focus pretty well on anything that you put your mind to.

***

Finding yourself distracted? Unable to focus? Mind getting pulled in different directions? With just one device at a time, you can actually boost your concentration and your productivity too!

*Featured and pin images: Shutterstock

 

17 thoughts on “One Device and Focus

  1. Oh I can vouch for this. I have pretty much mastered the one device at a time thing. And in my case it’s critical for me for getting anything done.

    Though I still struggle with one tab at a time. And that is such a time suck too. Sigh.

  2. Well that is easier said than done. I literally have about 7 tabs open now and my phone is also on my table, just checking out for whatsapp and Facebook messanger, all while Netflixing.

    Okay now I understand where the problem lies and I am gonna try to take a conscious effort to focus on thing at a time. And maybe get that post written.

  3. One tab?? Open one tab?? Is that possible! I don’t know…. Sounds blasphemous. 🙂

    I literally must be having some 5 tabs open every day these days – One for Facebook, one for the blogposts i visit, one for canva for images for my own blog, one for befunky to further edit the images for canva and then evernote to keep writing the next post!!

    1. And I get that 🙂 We’ve all been conditioned to believe that it’s the best way to work, optimising for time, as it were by having many tabs open. But the truth is our attention is split across 5 tabs even if we aren’t actively working on them.

      This method, on the other hand, promotes deep focus and helps you get things done much faster.

  4. Oh you always make sense. I often have my laptop and phone at hand and flit between the two. Specially that ping of a twitter notification is tempting enough. And then before I know it I’m browsing/surfing whatever. I’ve been meaning to do this but shall disable notifications – like I’ve done for Facebook. That works well. As always your post prompt me to productive action Shailaja.

  5. I always keep the phone with me. Well, almost always. But what works for me is that my wifi is off unless I switch it on. I have been doing this for years and it works like a charm. Why is the phone closeby? So that I am available for calls. When I work, only my laptop is on and I don’t do any non-work related browsing. But when I take a break I switch on the wifi. Time my break and get back to work. Works well. You are right that the focus breaks when we keep flitting among multiple things.

    1. That sounds great! I needed the Wi-Fi all this time because work could only get in touch with me through private chat. But I can turn that off soon. I love timed breaks! Also helps with getting my step count up 🙂

      Focus becomes harder as we grow older, I’ve noticed. Hopefully, with everything we do, things can slowly be restored to the way it used to be.

  6. Though I work from my laptop, and dont really do much on my mobile, my issue arises when I am reading on my kindle, and then have my mobile by my side. I keep surfing random stuff, books, authors, releases… breaking the flow of the book I am reading! I know its a bad habit, but must break away. And I think I must force myself to place the mobile in another room, instead of by my bedside

    1. Yes! Exactly what I have noticed too. I think it’s damaging my eyesight for sure, this constant device flitting.

      I started keeping the phone in another room for charging and have definitely noticed that I sleep better at night now.

  7. Well, I have jumped between book and mobile a little too often for comfort. It took me a while (longer than I care to admit) to get myself to focus on just reading a book, damnit! No phone! So, yeah, I know exactly what you mean. Somehow, I’ve never jumped between laptop and phone, unless I had to answer a call. (Thank God for small mercies, I say!)

    1. Oh so true about book and mobile! I cut that short a while ago. Also this new phone may have been the cause for my faltering attention but I managed to find the trouble and fix it. Hopefully, it sustains in the long run 🙂

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