Focus: a valuable ability in this age of distractions

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In work as in your personal duties, focus can help you improve your quality of life and getting your projects done

Focus: a valuable ability in this age of distractions

In the official video of a song called ‘Shut up’ by the British post-punk band, Savages, there is a monologue that resumes how being distracted is one of the main problems of our technological time: “The world used to be silent, now it has too many voices and noises are constant distractions. They multiply, intensify, they will direct your attention towards what’s convenient and forget to tell about yourself. We live in an age of many stimulations; if you are focused, you are harder to reach; if you are distracted, you are available".

Leer en español: Concentración: una habilidad valiosa en esta era de distracciones

Even if technology has given us a lot of advantages, it has also increased the number of distractions we have to deal constantly in our smartphones, social media and TV. This is why learning how to focus effectively will make you improve at work and in the achievement of your personal projects. Here at LatinAmerican Post we give you some pieces of advice to train this ability.

Focus to improve at work

According to Dr. Jim Taylor, a sports psychologist, in an article he wrote for Huffpost, the ability to focus is one of the keys to business success, as important as teamwork, motivation, and leadership. As he affirms, “if you can’t focus effectively, you can’t think effectively. And if you can’t think effectively, you definitely can’t produce the quality of work necessary to be successful”. Therefore, focus can be one of the greatest assets you can offer in your job, as it will make you more productive.

Maybe you are interested: 3 TED talks to learn about depression

Taylor gives us 4 important bits of advice: De-clutter your mind, focused workspace, master technology and apply the 4 Ps.

First, to de-clutter your mind you should avoid thinking about your future appointments and things unrelated to work, such as family and personal things.

Second, it is important to create a workspace free of anything that is distracting or not useful, so your surroundings are clear as your mind should be.

Third, to master technology may be one of the hardest as we are constantly receiving messages and checking our social media. That is why to avoid distracting you get over the multitasking myth and turn off your smartphone or computer when you want to focus on a specific task.

 Fourth, there are 4 Ps you should always take into account when focusing: perform, which is to ask yourself the best way to complete the task and the best environment to do it. Process, which is to focus on what you have to complete rather than in the outcome. Present, which is to be on the here and now rather than in your past memories. Productivity, which is to make sure you complete the third previous P’s and block out distractions.

Do one thing at a time to practice your capacity to focus

As his webpage tells us, Dandapani is a Hindu priest, speaker, and entrepreneur. After graduating from Electrical Engineering, he left all behind and went to a monastery in Hawai in which he trained for 10 years. One of the abilities he trained was concentrating. In his TED talk, he gives us some advice.

In his opinion, most people do not concentrate for two reasons: "First, we are never told how to; second, we do not practice concentration”. Being able to focus is not something you are born with, that is why you have to practice: “You can’t expect somebody to do something if you don’t teach them how to do it and then if they want to be good at it, they have to practice it”.

The problem is that neither our parents nor our schools teach us how to do it. In fact, he has seen that we have been training in distraction since we are little kids and that is why we are so good at it. That is what he calls the law of practice. We have practice distraction for so long that we are very good at it.

For Dandapani, to practice focus we should first understand the mind and how it works. From the monk’s point of view, awareness and the mind are inherently interconnected. Imaging awareness as a glowing ball of light and the mind as a vast area with different sections (love, happiness, sex, sadness, etc.), in which awareness travels and lights when it is placed over it. He says: “The art of concentration is the art of keeping awareness, that ball of light, on one thing for an extended period of time.”

If we understand this, we become conscious on how our awareness is on a daily basis we let someone or something take our mind to the place they wish, instead of having control of where do we want our awareness to be. This is important “because once you know how the mind works, you can control it, and once you can control it, you can focus it.”

Therefore, the best advice Danpani gives to practice concentration and controlling our mind is to do one thing at a time throughout your day. If you are talking with your partner, focus on every word he or she says, and when your attention drifts, take it back to the conversation. Find other opportunities like this in order to practice and improve your concentration. He ends up saying: “Life is a manifestation of where your energy is going, and if can’t concentrate your energy, the things that you want to manifest in your life becomes very challenging.”


LatinAmerican Post | Juan Gabriel Bocanegra

Copy edited by Juliana Suárez