How often do you truly focus on one thing?
Take a moment to think about the truth about your answer. Most of us never only do one thing at a time.
We drive, eat, and listen to an audiobook.
During work, we’ve got 9 different tabs open, our phone notifications pulling our attention, and we are thinking about what to eat.
For every additional attention-grabbing item, our focus and quality of output is diminished.
Stop Adding – Start Subtracting.
Much of life comes down to addition or subtraction.
Being a more materialistic type of society, we typically utilize addition as the main way to get better.
With health; we take supplements, protein bars, and greens juices.
With work; we use stimulants, nootropics, and productivity tools.
With life; we buy bigger houses, faster cars, and more expensive watches.
The problem is, the majority of additions comes out of two mindsets:
Lack – Why We Need More
Let’s think mathematically for a second.
What is the point for addition? Too add more or make bigger.
To add implies lack.
That’s why the nice car or 9 open tabs detract from our focus, turning our attention away from our present need and onto a future want.
Scarcity – What Happens When We Add Too Much
The more we add, the more scarcity we feel.
There’s an odd antidote to buying more stuff… You feel as though you have to safeguard it with your life and subsequently your “stuff” ends up owning you.
Hoarders constantly experience this. Their houses are overrun by things they “can’t throw out.”
The constant dread and fear derived from lack, quite literally ends up with consumerism taking over their lives.
Can Subtraction Save Us?
We are born complete.
That’s the truth. Don’t let ads, marketing, big media, or even the president tell you otherwise.
The older I become the more I begin to realize that my body has incredible innate intelligence.
Pattern recognition, hunger and thirst, movement patterns/muscle memory.
When I surrender and allow my body to do what it is supposed to, it does it.
Without needing anything extra.
Leading us to the main point of this article: Focus is currently broken.
Remember what I said earlier?
“For every additional attention-grabbing item, our focus and quality of output is diminished.”
Here’s an exercise to see this in action.
Head into a mall. Keep one clear to-do. Park as far away from your to-do item. Walkthrough the mall to the item. Keep that clear to-do.
Most of us will get sidetracked. We will fall prey to the bright lights, the free samples, the 30 stores calling, no begging for our attention. Our focus will be lost.
And that is how life constantly is.
The better you get at subtracting these items that call your attention, the more focus you will have.
* After writing that last second, my phone pulled away from my attention, stopping my focus and leaving me to pause this article
What Can You Immediately Subtract To Increase Focus?
Start at the most obvious places.
Your Living Space
Get rid of anything that shouldn’t be there. Follow Jordan Peterson’s rule #6.
Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the worldJordan Peterson
You need order, in order to focus. Without order, the mind turns to chaos playing an ever-repeating loop of what “could” go wrong.
The best place to create order is the place you spend the majority of your hours.
Your Phone and Computer
The phone and computer are another two “places” we spend an incredible amount of our time.
Most people don’t realize that the disorganization, overcrowding of applications, and noisy notifications are just killing productivity… but they are.
Heres how to start:
- Delete downloads you don’t use
- Delete apps you don’t use
- Turn off your notifications
- Organize your files by folders
Set One Major Daily To-do
I’m a fan of the agile task method, but there is always 1 thing (out of three) that is most important.
Focus on that first.
Once that’s done or progress is made, you can move on to the next most important task.
This is the one thing.
Get clear on it. Ask yourself “if I could only do one thing today to make me a little bit better, what would that be?” Then execute relentlessly.
Cut out the crap
It is as simple at that.
Stop doing, focusing, and creating more and just focus on less.