I saw this adorable little sign the other day.
One word that has infinite ramifications.

Our attention is under siege. The problem isn’t that we can’t pay attention. The problem is we don’t pay attention to the right thing in the right moment. We all have the ability to pay perfect attention already. Focusing isn’t just deciding what you will pay attention to in the moment, it’s also about deciding what you’re not going to pay attention to. We need to learn to say no to anything that will derail us from the things we’ve already said yes to.

Out of Focus

For the life of me, I can’t seem to focus.

Could it be that every time I sit down to start writing, a text dings. An email dongs. An Instagram feed pops us. A tweet tweets.

Well, yes indeed, I do believe that has everything to do with my inability to focus.

My focused first-born tells me to unplug. While living in a yurt on Salt Spring Island, she wrote:

The demands of the digital world often feel never-ending. There always seems to be another email, blog comment, status update, or tweet to reply to. As tech writer Paul Miller observed after leaving the Internet for a year, our online routines resemble a hamster wheel, one in which we go round and round again, with no clear end ever in sight.

My focused second-born encouraged setting social networking boundaries: Brooke’s Blog.

And my focused third-born told me to move to McPherson, Kansas. “You need to relax and slow down. Move to McPherson.”

I love it so much when my grown children now give me advice. Quite the reward.

The Need to Focus

I need to focus because I have work to do. Relationships to develop. Community to build. And, a God-sized legacy to leave.

And, dear friend, so do you.

I love this particular definition of focus: the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition. Please note: clear visual definition.

And this definition of distraction (which if you know me, I really love this definition): Confusion from a multiplicity of objects crowding on the mind and calling the attention different ways; perturbation of mind; perplexity; as, the family was in a state of distraction.

Let’s break this down.

  1. Distraction breeds confusion.
  2. Distraction (a multiplicity of objects) crowds our mind.
  3. Distraction calls our attention different ways.

Confusion + Crowding + Calling Away

That is indeed an equation for getting nothing of value done. We will be busy as beavers but have no dam to show for our efforts.

How to Sharpen Your Focus

I’ve been writing about the subject of distraction for years. Maybe that is why my three children understand the importance of the disciplines of solitude and silence. We typically research and study what we most need to learn, don’t we?

Last year, Candace Rose was invited to illustrate a piece for author and esteemed travel writer, Pico Iyer. She introduced me to this man’s great writing. This past year he released, The Art of Stillness, a moving essay on the power of taking a few moments each day to be still or unplug. Pico Iyer is a man that has traversed the world, but concludes that the greatest journey of all is the journey of stillness. A great read!

When you have a few minutes, I encourage you to take a listen. His sage advice is worth putting into action. I’ve come to the place in life where I not only know it is valuable, it is imperative. I want to live a long, productive life and leave a God-sized legacy (yes I am repeating myself) and I can’t do that if I am constantly distracted.

And because I really do care a great deal about you, I want you to do the same (smile).

The 21/21 Challenge: Unplugging a Little Each Day

When you’re finished, I’ve created a fun graphic for you to download and place on your frig. I’m taking the challenge and hope you will too. Join me over on my facebook page. Post your photos and comments.

Here’s to sharpening our focus and making good use of our time!

Want even more?

  1. An oldie but a goodie: Rock Solid Families. I give mounds of practical tips for implementing the practices of silence and solitude into your daily family routine.
  2. Want to be Happy?
  3. Pico Iyer, Where is Home?
  4. Greg McKeown, Essentialism
  5. Bonnie Gray, Finding Spiritual Whitespace
  6. Why We Need to Slow Down
  7. Interruption Science