Recently, I have become keen on studying the science and art of focus and concentration. We all know that to become great at a skill or activity, focus is one of the key elements. I had previously written about Focus as well.
In his Ted Talk titled Unwavering Focus, the speaker Dandapani does a solid presentation on our current habit of practicing distraction, the art of concentrating and understanding the mind. He states that “It’s in my humble opinion that most people can’t concentrate today, for two reasons. One is, we are never taught how to concentrate; and second is, we don’t practice concentration. He further adds So, how can you do something if you’re never taught how to do it? and How can you be good at something, if you don’t practice it? Those are profound questions. I recommend you watch his 17 minute Ted Talk.
In another Ted Talk by Dr. Cal Newport titled Quit social media, the speaker presents insightful and profound thoughts and experiences on social media. He argues that social media tools are designed to be addictive. The actual designed desired-use case of these tools is that you fragment your attention as much as possible throughout your waking hours that’s how these tools are designed to use. We have a growing amount of research which tells us that if you spend large portions of your day in a state of fragmented attention – large portions of your day, breaking up your attention….that this can permanently reduce your capacity for concentration. In other words, you could permanently reduce your capacity to do exactly the type of deep effort that we’re finding to be more and more necessary in an increasingly competitive economy.
I believe social media by itself is not all bad but you need to manage your time and attention properly. There are things you can do to do great work and still have a “social presence” on the web. Some ways are to allocate certain parts of the day or week to be on social media, to be away from social media when on vacation (it’s hard not to post a selfie on a trip to Italy but you should stay away from Instagram) and to be on only social media sites that you feel is critical to your professional success (LinkedIn rather than Facebook).