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Is Digital Distraction Destroying Your Focus and Attention?

I wonder how many of you will read this message in one sitting.

I bet you can’t resist the urge to bounce around social media checking to see if someone has liked, shared or followed you lately.

Last night I went for tea at a new coffee shop in Asheville.

The place was packed with phone zombies.

As I looked around, I couldn’t help but notice the number of people who were lost in their digital devices as they sat there with their friends.

It seems people are content to be somewhere else rather than be present in the moment with real people.

It’s almost as if the present moment isn’t important enough to live it.

When you’re sitting in your office working, you’ve got emails, texts, bells, notifications and numerous digital distractions all vying for your precious focus and attention.

Attention Deficit Trait

We’re all suffering from a new condition called, ADT or Attention Deficit Trait.

I like this definition by psychiatrist, Edward Hallowell, MD:

Attention Deficit Trait is a condition induced by modern life, in which you’ve become so busy attending to so many inputs and outputs that you become increasingly distracted, irritable, impulsive, restless and, over the long term, underachieving.

We’re losing our ability to pay attention.

A recent Harvard study found that people spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. 

All this mind-wandering typically makes you unhappy.

All these distractions and mind wanderings are empty calories and give you the feeling that you’re getting something done but in reality you’re simply consuming and investing your precious time in shallow disposable moments.

I wonder…how many times have you clicked on an article, piece of music, video, photograph or story as you listen to your mind saying: “Nah… nah… not my taste… dumb…oh that’s funny…or, I like that.”

Minutes turn into hours and days.

This is your life.

Sure this addictive information explosion offers delectable juicy tidbits of knowledge and interest but how often do you take tangible action steps from these new learnings?

Most often we quickly consume them and move on.

If you’re still with me, congratulations on your excellent focus!

Do you ever notice the feeling that after clicking around for a couple of hours that it leaves you feeling empty inside?

The worst part is that you unintentionally begin to treat all media as disposable items.

My Whole Life is In This Thing

The internet is cool but sometimes I think it has devalued our ability to appreciate art, people and nature.

Once I saw the famous opera singer, Luciano Pavarotti on a late night talk show and he pulled out a small mp3 player and raised it in the air with two fingers and said, “My whole life is in this thing.”

We’re being conditioned by our digital devices and we’re fooling ourselves into believing that these distractions, likes, shares, tweets and follows are worth our time and attention.

Who Owns Your Attention?

The fact is your attention is finite. 

Each distraction you experience is a moment of your life that you’ll never get back.

Mindfulness teaches us that happiness is to be found by living in the moment. 

When you practice and live mindfully you are trained to resist mind wanderings and to be in the here and now – more often.

Let this message be a gentle reminder to make each of your moments count.

  • Be careful who and what you give your attention to
  • Go on a media fast
  • Be with people, not your phones
  • Slow down
  • Savor each precious moment of life
  • Learn to focus on one thing at a time.

This all translates into a more profitable, productive, happier YOU.

I’ve run my franchise businesses, real estate investments and coaching practice for the past 30 years using ideas in this article.

I help leaders and companies overwhelmed by information overload develop clarity through mindfulness training to be fully present and aware, work smarter not harder for ideal life-work balance.

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