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On The Need To FOCUS In Our Age Of Hyper-Distraction...

I was amused by a bit of synchronicity yesterday. I've been giving a lot of thought lately to how to better focus my attention. The "bright shiny objects" of our social media world have tended to pull me away from what I should be doing and suddenly I've found that it will be near the end of a day and I haven't accomplished those things I'd set out to do in the morning.
"Oh, look, there's a butterfly..."

It's VERY easy to get distracted. Go to do research and pull up an article... only to start clicking on other headlines and photos... and then somewhere in there remember what you were researching...

The topic of "attention", or our lack thereof, has been much on my mind.

So I was amused to find two articles yesterday that both hit this topic straight on:

  • Developing Razor Sharp Focus with Zen Habits Blogger, Leo Babauta is actually a blog post written back in July 2011 by Jane Genovese, who also produced this wonderful mind-map/graphic that I've included in this post. (A larger version is in her post.)

    Jane discusses a free ebook from Leo Babauta, "Focus: A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction" and lays out her own suggestions and commentary about how to focus more. It's a well-done post with, again, a stellar graphic. (I've subsequently downloaded Leo Babauta's ebook, too.)

  • Don't blame the information for your bad habits is an interview over on O'Reilly's Radar site by Mac Slocum of author Clay Johnson about his upcoming book "The Information Diet" that hits many of the same themes. While this interview is admittedly self-promotional as Johnson's book is an O'Reilly book, it nonetheless has some good thoughts in it. Here's a quote I liked:

    In other words, we don't suffer from information overload — we suffer from information overconsumption and poor consumption habits. The solution is just as simple as a successful food diet. It's about building habits and healthy choices for yourself, and sticking to it.

    Tim O'Reilly also had a good comment to the post that included in part this:

    Time is a precious resource. You don't get it back. Thinking through what you want to produce as well as what you want to consume, and how much time you'll allocate to each activity, is a good start. But there are a whole host of productive steps you can take to remove cruft from your information diet.

Both of these posts came to my attention yesterday... ironically, of course, both through social media. The first through Google+ and the second through either Facebook or Twitter (and possibly both).

Regardless, they do hit on a crucial topic - how do we manage our time and our attention? How do we focus on what is important? How do we not get distracted by all those forces around us that entice us?

I've been taking some steps over the past few months to increase my focus (including of note to only read email at particular times of the day)... and I need to take even a few more.

What steps are you taking to tame the distractions?

UPDATE: Chris Brogan wrote a great post on this topic on Dec 2nd: YOU’RE NOT AS BUSY AS YOU THINK

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