Focus is possible in the age of distraction.



The posts in October have all dealt with reasons why it is difficult to focus in our constantly connected society full of distractions.

It might be difficult but it is not impossible. There are examples everywhere of people who do focus on the important things and achieve success. Examples in industry, commerce, innovation, sport, the arts and medicine.

New photographers found it difficult to focus those old cameras like the one in the photo. But by persevering, they mastered them.

The similarity of concentration and focus has been explored. The two are similar but not identical. Focus implies directing energies to a goal. Unfocused energy can be used to concentrate intensely on the right or wrong activity or in the wrong direction.

Distractions can attract concentration, anything on a small screen demands concentration and teases focus away from the mission.

The flowchart in the previous post demonstrated that focus can be destroyed in many ways. Distractions can be a big or small problem depending on how we handle them or prevent them from affecting our concentration.

The level of our commitment and determination dictates how well we will be able to focus and how effectively we can resist being led astray by distractions.

A compelling goal, as in the finding a cure for a sick child example, can provide us with the determination, commitment and perseverance to focus on that one mission until we get results. It can insulate us from all distractions and cause us to neglect other important activities.

The secret to developing the ability to focus can be summarised in these 6 steps.

  • An important goal. Your Why. Knowing what to focus on for the big picture.
  • A compelling mission.
  • The determination to complete the mission and achieve the goal.
  • A plan to achieve it – your How. Knowing what to focus on daily.
  • Self-discipline, systems, habits and routines to prevent or remove distractions.
  • Perseverance to re-focus, make corrections and keep going after setbacks.

Simple really. It’s how great achievers have operated for thousands of years, before computers, smart phones and sophisticated planning tools.

Are all distractions bad? Not necessarily, sometimes as Roberta wrote in a recent comment, they provide a refreshing break and allow us to re-focus with renewed energy and creativity. Some distractions are important and urgent, they have to be handled, sometimes immediately.

Distractions become a problem when they continuously attract our focus so that we never attain our goals.

Your thought? Leave a comment.

p.s Chris Brogan’s daily OMFG emails have some good ideas on handling distractions and being more effective. (affiliate link)

camera photo courtesy of nuttakit /


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  2 comments for “Focus is possible in the age of distraction.

  1. Roberta
    November 1, 2014 at 8:18 am

    This has been a good series and has made me think. Unfortunately, the people who could most benefit bu this discussion are not here.

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