What are you paying attention to these days? How many screens are glowing in front of you right now? 3 for me. My attention has become so divided that it is a struggle to focus on any one thing, even when I desperately need to. In fact, I find myself seeking division when there aren’t enough streams of information pouring in. I am constantly trying to escape situations that I chose to be in, and most often to focus on something with little redeeming value. The net effect of that is a feeling that my time is constantly being wasted, and what’s worse is that I am the one wasting it! Here are my 4 strategies to tune out and in:
1. No Pushing – I have shut down all push notifications on my phone. No twitter, I would not like to welcome Betty Lou Who. Yes ESPN, I know that my second round fantasy pick WR is benched with a knee injury. And thank you Facebook, I will log right in to view my college roommates latest photo bomb escapades. My phone is a constant companion as it is my calendar, notebook, and keeper of so many other tools. But it must, must, must become a silent partner!
2. Penmanship – Typing quickly may be the most efficient way to take notes, but it is also the most distracting to EVERYONE. Hiding behind the opened lid of a laptop or upright tablet creates enough separation that you might as well leave the room. Plus, it is so tempting to multi task and check my Linked In profile rather than follow along with whomever is speaking… #guilty. I’m carrying pen and paper to all meetings these days for taking notes that I later transfer to Evernote. Keeps me focused and attentive while allowing me to rediscover how to write a cursive Z.
3. Peep Game – Turns out that making eye contact and being an active listener has many other benefits beyond knowing what people are saying. Real conversation is built as much on non-verbal communication as anything else whether sent by the eyes, hands, or otherwise. You may be amazing at listening while texting, but you’re missing half the message looking down and not up.
4. No Power Hour – Remember when you walked into a coffee shop without scouting out all the available outlet locations? Me neither. I’m going to start carving out an hour every day where I will not use any devices whatsoever. No phone, tablet, tv, laptop, ebook, etc. Anticipating the challenge here being equally split between actually finding that time, and then keeping myself from napping during it. But I’m excited to find out what I might do in that time. Read, write, pray, think, talk to myself… Who knows?
Paying someone your undivided attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, and as a bonus it is also a tremendous gift to yourself. It will lead to deeper relationships, more efficient communication, and perhaps better handwriting. You will also distinguish yourself from everyone around you who is too busy “escaping” the moment.