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.
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!
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.