It’s close to impossible to avoid distraction in a world that demands attention in so many directions. Haven’t there always been distractions? Certainly! So what’s different? What makes so many people either share with close friends or just worry on their own that they are stressed, have trouble paying attention or staying focused in meetings, in conversations in general, and in remembering what they sat down at the desk to DO!

    Try to avoid being annoyed when I say it’s TECHNOLOGY and the multiple DEVICES, as well as entertainment modalities, almost everyone uses. At the same time they make life a bit easier, provide amazing information access, they convince us we are capable of multi-tasking (WE ARE NOT!) and pull us too quickly from one focus/task to another.
    Perhaps even more significant, technology makes us talk less — to one another, face to face.  It’s in conversations that we actually learn focus….well, it’s one way we learn focus! We learn to look at one another — make eye contact, watch facial expressions, observe body language, listen (hopefully carefully) to the person speaking…..and then have the opportunity to respond….to hear ourselves think out loud….and to be SEEN AND HEARD by another person.  We learn to pay attention. We learn to connect and for most, genuine connection relaxes us, calms us, and boosts happiness and well-being.
    Take all that away, because of text messages — and every other means of rapid non verbal broadcasting of what you are doing — and you introduce STRESS. Stress reduces focus and increases distraction.  Once the brain registers negative feelings it also quickly looks for something soothing….too many thoughts flood the brain and creates, for most, thought distortions. Negative thoughts add more stress. Now focus is indeed challenged.
    What to do about this? First I suggest testing, measuring your degree of focus vs distraction by answering a few questions and trying a couple of “exercises.”  And this assumes that you say you value focus!
    -How many times in an hour do you check your phone? Your computer?
    -Could you put your phone down for several hours at a time? Close your computer for several hours at a time?
    -Do you turn off all electronics at least one hour before going to bed? Or do you sleep with a phone on and within reach? I hope your phone is OFF at bedtime!
    -Do you have more face to face conversations than electronic ones?
    Now try these exercises.
    -Close your eyes, and as you breathe in, count ONE; as you breathe out count TWO…continue this to the count of 25.  See how quickly you lose track or perhaps are able to focus fairly well.
    -Sit quietly for 20 minutes. Let your mind quiet down. Just gaze out a window. (How long since you’ve done that?) See if this relaxes you or stresses you.
    -And if you want to give yourself the ultimate test as well as start to alter your level of distraction, meditate for a week or two.  Most people report that consistent meditation decreases stress and increases the ability to BE PRESENT.
    These are ideas to get you started. Because lack of focus causes bad decisions, wrong headed actions, regrets in relationships…..and dramatic loss of connection and being your best self.
    For more information, try my book: YOUR PERSONAL STRESS ANALYSIS. And for quick instructions on meditation, google resources for meditation and relaxation.  And always, if you are having trouble that concerns you, please talk to someone. And you can always contact me.  Take care….and feel better!