I’ve written before about how distractions and the failure to practice attention management take a toll in the workplace. In my latest article for Harvard Business Review, I expand on those themes: Distractions aren’t just detrimental to our work. They are also making it harder and harder to live a life of choice.
Part of the problem, of course, is that we deal with more distractions than ever. Here’s a part of the article that seems to be resonating with readers:
Your attention determines the experiences you have, and the experiences you have determine the life you live. Or said another way: you must control your attention to control your life. Today, in a world where so many experiences are blended together — where we can work from home (or a train or a plane or a beach), watch our kids on a nanny-cam from work, and distraction is always just a thumb-swipe away — has that ever been more true?
With so many distractions, accomplishing the things that are important to you doesn’t just happen. If you aren’t being deliberate, you can find your attention diverted to other seemingly urgent tasks. Before you know it, days (or weeks, or months) have passed and you’ve paid little attention to the things that really matter to you.
The good news, though, is that it’s very possible to strengthen your attention management skills and align your life more closely with what you truly value. Here are some links to more information on the formula I outline in the article. First, control your technology (turn off those notifications!). Second, control your environment. Even if you work in an open-office setting, you can set some boundaries. The third part is the trickiest: Control yourself. All the distractions in our lives have conditioned our minds to be restless.
Be sure to read the full HBR article for some tips to retrain your mind and rebuild your focus. You can also learn much more about combating distractions and harnessing the power of attention management in my books, Personal Productivity Secrets and Work Without Walls. You can start reading either or both for free, here.