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The upside to working from home is that my procrastination often takes the form of organization and this can be helpful in mid January when the expanding pile of loose wrapping paper, holiday cards, bills, papers and passports that has accumulated on my desk over the holidays has simply gotten too large to ignore. It was on such an avoidant day this week that I uncovered the three books I received as gifts this year for Christmas….one from my son, one my mother and one from a friend.

I will not reveal who gave me which one, but I did smile when I saw them sitting side by side on my desk – a message of sorts. David Goggins’ unrelenting biography of pain and discipline, “Never Finished”; Nina Totenberg’s memoir about her deep friendship with Ruth Bader

Ginsburg “Dinners with Ruth” and Johann Hari’s exploration of the perilous decline of our collective attention span “Stolen Focus”. There are many ways I could interpret what my loved ones think of me or perhaps think I need more of? Not sure. But the thing I found most interesting was the book I naturally chose to read first…yup! Stolen Focus!

It was clear to me that my year needed to begin with a refresher in gaining control over my time. This is something I talk with people about regularly and yet I too can fall victim to the lures of distraction. I often thought of myself as a master multitasker but as the years go by I see the pitfalls of that inherited skill and struggle as much as anyone with the constant barrage of notifications and communications that make it near impossible to remain on task. So…what did I learn from my first book of the year?

Why “Stolen Focus” Captured My Attention First

As someone who guides others in managing their time, I am all too aware when I too succumb to the allure of the digital world. This book wasn’t just a read; it was a wakeup call for me to reassess my own relationship with technology and multitasking and take back my time.

Unveiling the Insights of “Stolen Focus”

The Myth of Multitasking: Johann Hari challenges the glorified concept of multitasking. He convincingly argues that what we consider multitasking is often inefficient task-switching, draining our mental energy.

Technology – A Double-Edged Sword: In today’s digital age, technology’s benefits are undeniable, yet its addictive nature is alarming. Choose periodic digital detoxes and mindful media consumption during your days.

Nature’s Healing Power: Hari underscores the rejuvenating power of nature. Regularly disengaging from digital distractions and spending time in the natural world can bring remarkable mental clarity and focus. This does not have to be a week in the wilderness. Consider an hour walk without your phone.

Nutrition and Mental Wellness: Hari delves into the critical connection between diet, gut health, and cognitive function, reinforcing the importance of a whole-foods-based diet for maintaining focus and mental acuity.

The Essential Role of Sleep: The book highlights how quality sleep is crucial for maintaining focus, for both young and old. Establishing healthy sleep routines can do magic for concentration and mood so get technology out of your sleep space.

Rethinking Education for Focus: Hari sheds light on the educational system’s role in shaping children’s attention spans, advocating for more engaging and less restrictive learning environments.

A Societal Call to Action: Lastly, Hari elevates the issue of declining attention spans from an individual challenge to a societal concern, urging a collective shift towards lifestyles that nurture deep, sustained attention.

A Personal Reflection and Call to Action

“Stolen Focus” presented me with a mirror, reflecting my own daily struggles with attention in a hyper-connected world. This book gave me an invitation to question, reflect, and decide to make conscious choices about how I want to interact with technology this year, how I want to manage my time and reminded me that I want more time for myself. So….

  • I reset my Sleep and Wake up light alarm clock that I had stopped using after daylight savings last year. No more iPhone alarm.
  • Removed social media from the home screen of my phone
  • Turned off all notifications on my phone except those from my children
  • Committed to walking the dog each morning without my phone
  • Decided with my children that Sundays after dinner we will all read together for an hour
  • And…as I write this post, my computer is in “focus” mode so that I can concentrate for an hour without interruption

Wish me luck! And check in with me in a few months to see how I am doing!

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