The Focus Problem
“When you give attention to many things, you’re not giving attention to something at all.”
What the hell! That is my reaction while writing this article because of difficulty in concentrating. Here’s the problem, my mind is still wandering on the last TV series I have watched while simultaneously checking the number of user downloads my created apps get on App Store. My mind is also occupied with “to-do list” for today and tomorrow while thinking of the video games that I’m about to play later. Yes, it is a struggle for me to finish writing this article because I’m losing focus from time to time.
Doing a lot of things doesn’t mean that you’re productive
I’m really grateful that I’m doing and earning from the things I love. Apart from my day job as a System Administrator, I create apps, write articles, and mentor people. Having these things on my bucket makes me think that I have an excuse whenever I fail to finish a task or goal, but I’m also fully aware that I still have time to play video games, watch videos online, and sneak few seconds on my social media account, not to mention the times of struggling to control my habits of checking my IM, email, and web feeds every now and then.
Sometimes, we believe that we’re busy, but the truth is there are just so many distractions around us.
Some of which are habits that is holding us back.
My hobby is holding me back
I love playing video games, I really do. I have been doing it since I was a child, and I believe I would keep playing until my old age. Playing video games in moderation helps reduce stress and anxiety. It can also keep our mind sharp as well as our reflexes depending on the genre that we’re playing, although we all know that playing too much can be bad for our health and productivity.
I’m not talking about video games only. Same thing applies to other forms of entertainment like watching television or browsing on social media. Too much of these things are also bad for our health and productivity.
Now let me clarify, I don’t have the right to dictate to anyone how to use his/her precious time. Your time is yours and you are in total control on how you want to use it. My point is to never complain on not having enough time to fulfill your goals as long as you have time to do the things that give you pleasure, because it’s all about priorities. It’s a question of what hobbies you are willing to sacrifice in order to have time to work on your goals in life.
I’m not saying that we fully abandon our hobbies. Spending time for leisure is important. It helps us manage stress, reduce depression, and boost motivation. These are important factors for our mental health which keeps us sane, but just like any other things, too much pleasure can hurt us as much as what stress can do. It makes our mind fragile to the point where we can no longer bear simple life’s problem. As a result, we end up as human beings who use leisure as an escape from our problems instead of using it as a motivational tool for solving life’s challenges. That’s why in general, people who can’t solve their own problems are mostly drinking alcohol all night, watching something all day, playing games all the time, and are often browsing the internet.
When you’re under internet mind control
Remember when you’ve made a promise to yourself to open just one video, then you end up spending a couple of hours watching multiple videos on Youtube, or when you were just planning to check your Facebook or Instagram account for a few seconds but end up swiping for hours. Afterwards, you feel bad on yourself because a lot of your time is wasted resulting to not achieving anything that day.
Just a little lesson about the internet today. Most websites or apps collect information from your browsing behavior. From that collected information, they would come up with relevant recommendations for you. That result is tempting enough, that you’ll find yourself not wanting to stop browsing or watching for more.
Too much things kill our attention life span
I really love the internet. This age of information won’t be possible without it. It gives you access to almost all information in the world. Without the internet, maybe I won’t be able to create apps, get talk ideas, write articles, and effectively research on the things that I love.
But the internet itself provides both useful and useless information. Often, we don’t realize that we can no longer distinguish what’s useful and useless because we’re overwhelmed by too much information.
This leads to giving attention to many things that ends up becoming a habit. The habit of giving attention to too many things.
That habit becomes part of who we are.
Then, we become someone who pays attention to all things. Whether it’s a useful or useless one.
Here’s the big problem, we only have limited time and energy in this world, so pay attention to what I’m about to say:
The result is we end up as someone who’s having a hard time focusing on something. This my friend is the “Focus Problem”. It means having a short attention span. An epidemic issue in this age of information.
When you can’t filter what’s important anymore
The problem right now in this age of information is that we have too many things to give attention to that leads to shorter attention span. The more things we give attention to, the shorter our attention span becomes.
The only clear solution is to get rid of junk information in our lives.
Difficulty in focusing only means that we are not cutting enough junk information in our lives.
For most of us, it would not be easy anymore. This is mainly because once we get the habit of giving attention to many things, it becomes more and more difficult to identify what’s important and what’s useless.
The first step is to give an effort in breaking down all the information that our brain is accepting.
The Information Diet
Limiting the food that we eat or also known as nutritional diet is an important factor to our physical health. Just like nutritional diet, we also need information diet for our attention health.
Nutritional diet is all about eating healthy foods and staying away from junk ones.
Information diet is all about entertaining necessary information only and getting rid of unnecessary ones.
The initial step is to identify what’s necessary and what’s not.
Necessary information is useful, reliable, and important. It nourishes your mind, helps your character grow, and makes you a better person. Necessary information affects you and other people in significant ways.
Unnecessary information, on the other hand, is useless, unreliable, and unimportant. It only magnifies your personal issues that either promotes insecurity, self-pity, or hatred. Unnecessary information only plays with your emotions but doesn’t provide any significance to you and to other people.
Something to take note of: Not all necessary information can make us feel good. Some are hard to take but are needed to make us a better person. Just like admitting and taking responsibility for our own mistakes. Likewise, not all unnecessary information can make us feel bad. Most are like dangerous drugs. It feels good and its addictive, but it will never make us a better person. The effect is actually opposite like creating lies and refusal to accept reality in order to escape from problems and responsibilities.
Stop blaming technology
Seriously, stop blaming technology. It’s not our smart phone’s fault or the internet’s fault. It’s our brain’s fault. Technology would always be neutral. If you’re productive, technology can help you accomplish more. If you’re lazy, technology can make it worse.
Again its our brain’s fault, and it is our responsibility to restrain ourselves whenever we are swiping our phone non-stop, to accept only necessary information, and to be fully aware if we’re having a Focus Problem.
It took me more than a month to finish this article. Like you, I’m also working on my own focus problem.
© 2019 Arc Sosangyo