Have you ever played ‘Attention Pinball’?
That’s the game where, even while sitting at your own desk, alone, your attention starts bouncing around from one task to the next, seemingly without your control?
For example, you’ve got several internet tabs and software programs open and running, plus, of course, your email box.
So you start to look at one email, decide to work on it. Except the answer to this one means that you have to click away from your email, and then you see that other task that might be more important over there, and you wonder if you should get back to work on that task …
… maybe for a minute you’re strong enough to resist, and you keep moving forward to get the answer to the original email we began discussing, except then you see that you left this other tab open, which has your calendar on it, which reminds you that you have that meeting coming up soon …
… and these flippers and bouncers can continue on indefinitely, if you let them. You know the game.
Sometimes you’ve just got to unplug the machine.
I’m sure there are many tips to achieving deep levels of focus that I could share. Obviously keeping the number of programs and tabs you have open at a given time is one. Not checking your email constantly is huge.
But at the end of the day, you have to raise your awareness, and be willing to say ‘no’ to people and things which are not on your agenda.
This ‘no’ can be delivered with openness and respect. You most certainly can stop what you’re doing in order to help someone else, and then get right back to what you were doing without an issue.
Just don’t stop yourself from what you were doing. That’s different.
That’s a game you can’t win.