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Empowerment for international talents & third culture kid

How to Train Yourself to Find Focus in a Distracted World

"Removed" series - Grandson and Grandfather, by American artist Eric Pickersgill

Did you know that according to statistics the average attention span is down from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds now?

In an always connected world with social media and smart devices, it's very hard to stay focused. In fact, time is not the most precious resource we have, attention is.

When we're in the middle of working, there's always this text message or app notification popping up, distracting our attention. With constant back-and-forth switches, we end up spending twice the amount of time completing the work.

When we take a break, we normally look at our smartphone and check on the updates from friends on Facebook. We thought we would just go through some of the highlights, but we end up staying more than half an hour on the social media because there's so much info to read and so many messages to respond to!

When faced with a long to-do list, we try hard to complete all the tasks one by one. However, though oftentimes we find ourselves very busy all the time with no time to take a break, we do not seem to be very productive during these long working hours.

We probably forgot to ask ourselves the most important question: What's the topmost priority of the day, of the month or of the year?

It's crucial for us to be crystal clear on our top priority, that "ONE" thing we need to do today and tomorrow.

We don't have to manage time; we need to manage our attention. We don't need to get more things done; we just need to get a few of the most important things completed and done well.

In a world with a plethora of information and options, we have to be cautious of which resource to feed our body and mind. The truth is, better attention management improves your focus, and better focus improves your productivity and energy, which in turn increases your overall happiness.

Don’t get discouraged if you are having a hard time staying focused on one task at a time. With proper training and constant practice, you can do it. To train yourself to find focus, put the following quick tips into practice day in and day out:

- First things first. Whether it's a workout at the gym or a difficult task, do it first after you wake up. That way, you don't have to deal with issues like " I don't have time" or " I'm exhausted " later in the day.

- Block time on your calendar. Make it official and create a no interruption environment when doing important work. Put your cell phone on "airplane" mode or in another room.

- Take regular breaks. Breaks are actually a very good medicine to boost your energy and concentration. A short 5- to 10-minute walk or a simple office yoga session will get your focus back. It's an effective and low-cost strategy.

As James Clear once said: “When you say no, you're only saying no to ONE option. When you say yes, you're saying no to EVERY OTHER option." Start practicing how to say no and concentrate your efforts and time on the most important things that will bring you joy and satisfaction.

Additional resources:

Deep work : rules for focused success in a distracted world , by Cal Newport

The one thing: the surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results, by Gary Keller

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