I was recently watching television when I saw a commercial promoting doing multiple things at once. I was taken aback by it because it seemed to go against everything I’ve learned over the past few years, but realized that this is what our society preaches to us on a daily basis. Why do just one thing, when you can do three other things along with it? As I was growing up I remember learning the term “multi-tasking” and thinking it was a skill I needed to cultivate ASAP. I thought if I could successfully do many things at once, then I will really succeed in life. I wasn’t alone. We think we are more productive when we multi-task; we think that we become superhuman. If I can email my boss, while running on the treadmill, while watching the news, certainly I could have more time for myself later on, right? Not so much. In reality, when we divide our attention, we become less productive. Our brains don’t take in nearly as much as they would have had we been giving 100%.
As time has passed, it has gotten even easier to “check out.” We are bombarded with technology; cell phones at dinner, laptops open while watching television, and the list continues. We spread our attention thin, and we don’t get the opportunity to take in all that we can. We lose out. We weaken our minds. Things easily slip past us and we don’t even realize it.
When was the last time you did not multi-task? When was the last time one thing or one person had your undivided attention? With our busy lives and regular distractions, it can be difficult to focus, so here are some useful tips on how you can incorporate focused attention into your busy life:
1. Choose a technology. Cell phones, Blackberries, iPads, laptops, Kindles, television… the list can go on and on. We have so many forms of technology at our disposal at any given time, and we can usually be using more than one at a time. Make a promise to yourself this week to use only one form of technology at a time. If you have your computer out, turn off the T.V.
2. Appreciate your company. We’ve become used to not giving people all of our attention when we are with them. We are on our phones, reading, or even just spacing out thinking about things we have to do later on. When you make the commitment to spend time with a person, really be with them. Look people in the eyes when you speak to them and truly engage in conversation. Be interested in them and your relationships will greatly improve.
3. Take time and care for yourself. The more you care for yourself, the more you’ll be able to be present in life. Eat proper foods, drink lots of water, and get ample rest. These are simple things, but they will make a difference in your life and your attention span.
4. Meditate daily. At least five minutes of meditation every morning sets the foundation for you to focus. If you haven’t already, try it out. Wake up five minutes early to become grounded and centered before going on with your day. Before going to sleep, take a quick scan of your day and notice if you were more present in your life.
What works for you? Let us know!