I recently finished up Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload by Lucy Jo Palladino. While it got great reviews on Amazon, I don’t recommend it. I was expecting a lot more detailed and thorough strategies and exercises to combat distraction. I guess every author comes up with some kind of analogy to build a theme around. She categorized strategies as keychains and keys, which at multiple points I found very confusing and distracting.
As with all other advice out there, the premise is to be self-aware and mindful. I don’t mean to belittle that point as it’s essential to change and improve anything (focus, weight loss, attitude, etc).
At some point on this blog, I’m going to put together a nice concise plan and advice to combat distraction. Duh, that’s the point, right?
The long story short of this book is to be mindful of your adrenaline levels. To help, you can try to visualize it on a scale of 1-10. If you are bored (adrenaline level low), and need to take on a boring task, you should look to raise the level (music, power walk, thoughts, etc). If you are too hyped up, you may need to calm down too. The idea is to find the right balance, or “zone”. HOW to get in the zone is completely left out of the book–or at least it completely escaped me. Rather the book gets you to be aware that there is a zone and has you strive to get in the zone.
There were some takeaways though, so it wasn’t a waste of time for me to read:
- To combat avoidance (procrastination), ask “what am I NOT doing now?” And why…
- Envision anxiety as a false alarm and ask is it rational.
- Focus on what you can control.
- Let goals guide you, not govern you.
- When you notice you are losing focus, ask why.
- To combat overload, don’t have FOMA – Fear of Missing Out
I can see why this book may be helpful to some. Like I’m sure with a lot of books, they can be either great or not depending on where you are with your knowledge of the subject at the moment.
I finished up 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman a few weeks ago. I actually listened to it on Audible. I’ll get into it more in another post, but listening to books rather than reading neither saves time or effort.
The book was so so. I guess because it came at a point where I was looking internally to begin with, I didn’t think any of ideas were revolutionary. And like I find with many other similar books, the multi-step (with multiple steps in each step, and steps within those sub steps), it’s not very simple to follow.
The premise is you spend 18 minutes a day making sure you are doing the right things. 5 minutes in the morning to decide what will make the day successful. 1 minute every hour to pause and to access. Then 5 minutes at night to review.
To make a long story short. Be mindful. Are you wasting time? Is what you are doing now (and perhaps later) contributing to your life goals? Do your goals align with your values? And what are your goals? Are the goals meaningful?
There were some valuable takeaways and action items for me specifically that I am going to work on, which are:
- Pursue my passions.
- Use spare time to support my passions.
- Focus on what I want to achieve, believe I can achieve, and enjoy trying to achieve.
- Be more involved in group activities to build engagement with others.
- Experience more than mundane day to day.
- Stop thinking so much and put things into motion.
Most importantly I need to deliberately take myself out of my comfort zone at times and not be afraid to fail. So long as I can learn from mistakes and failures.
Overall the book was ok. There were valuable takeaways. A lot were known to me, but did take the book to jog them back into focus.
One tip that’s central to most advice out there is to me mindful of your actions. This applies to focus, habits, healthy living, and much more. Of course at the risk of sounding like Yogi Berra, it’s hard to be mindful if you don’t know what to be mindful of.
Lately I’ve been paying special attention to what I’m doing at the moment. What am I doing? Am I wasting time? Am I focused? What should I be focusing on?
It seems to be helping me quite a bit. My goal, of course, is to have it all come naturally.
I have 40 books on my to read list. Surely a list that big is fodder for the scatterbrain that I’m trying to overcome. Fear not, I’ve prioritized them and am comfortable with pacing myself (it took some convincing of myself to do just that). Part of my lack of focus at times can be traced back to me putting unstructured demands on myself. So while I have a huge list, I took a deep breath, prioritized them (which will probably change over time) and convinced myself that it’s ok not to cram. The learning should be part of an evolution, not overnight change.
One book on that list is Emotional Equations: Simple Truths for Creating Happiness + Success by Chip Conley.
I’m always in awe when someone takes something very complicated to describe and describes it in a concise and very easy way to understand.
I watched a video of Chip discussing the book and he talked about the “equation” of anxiety as Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness. Wow! That’s pretty profound and 100% describes times in my life when I felt burdened by anxiety.
Looking at it peeled back that way really uncovers the root cause and even gives it an important visual. I can look back and ask, why was there uncertainty? And was I really powerless? To me, it drives home the fact that I need to ACT at certain times. Perhaps I wasn’t always at the mercy of an unknown fate (which never seemed to turn out as bad as I imagined). I will certainly think of this equation if I encounter anxiety in the future.
Besides the 40 books in my current queue, I plan to list others I’ve read that have had positive influences (or none!). But I find it funny that a simple equation can jog the mind more than many 300+ page books can.
I wrote on my personal blog about a “30 day challenge,” where I stopped going to twitter, google plus, and some other social media sites, blogs and message boards for 30 days. It was surprisingly easy.
What that lesson taught me, and what’s covered in the book Find Your Focus Zone, is that you shouldn’t fear “missing out.” What’s valuable to gain from constantly viewing updates on those networks anyway? Probably very little. What it ends up serving as is a go to avoidance crutch to visit instead of doing something meaningful (which might require careful and focused thought).
The 30 day challenge provided me motivation to stop visiting those networks so much, and the habit has continued. By not visiting those networks so much, I definitely gained back some valuable time. The point to consider is that although total time on those networks weren’t very much (for me), the interruptions they brought about are hard to recover from–although it’s not apparent when you are not aware if it. Idle time can be put to very good use instead of being wasted.
I’m only half way through the book. I’ll post a detailed review shortly. This is just one takeaway so far.
Hello. My name is Matt Soreco. And I’m scatterbrained. Sometimes. Enough to realize it. It took a long time for me to identify the occasional lack of concentration and focus, which can lead to frustration, which can lead to a further lack of concentration. I believe it manifested itself in several ways. Occasional blabbering when speaking–loss train of thought, which can snowball. And inability to take a casual interest in things.
The thing is… I can be extremely productive when I put my mind to it. My goal is to tap into that energy and apply it to things I want to do (like taking on new hobbies), just like I do with things I must do (work, family, etc.).
This will be a journey. I only recently had this realization. And I think AHA I may be on to something here. I will try new things. Practice advise out there (on blogs, books, etc.). I might change course. Often. Or I might get it all right the first time around. Unlikely.
I will soon be posting what I’ve done so far, how I came to this realization, and how I plan to end my occasional scatterbrain.There will be book reviews, blog reviews, advice and things I’ve leaned and have worked, and much more. I hope you can learn from my experience, help me along the way, or both.