many people only think of attention in terms of the ability to focus on a single task, there are in fact several different types, each with their distinctive benefits and drawbacks.
Attention mastery, then, is actually all about attention management. Attention is a precious resource. We only have so much. To get the most out of life we must learn to utilize and allocate our attention effectively.
Thus mastering your powers of concentration requires becoming the supreme commander of your mind’s armed forces – budgeting your resources, knowing your divisions’ strengths and weaknesses, placing a particular unit at the battlefront at certain times, and moving it to the rear for rest at others.
Are you ready to win the war on distraction? Here’s your battle plan.
Your Focus is Your Reality: How to Manage the Big Picture
Attention is more than just focusing on completing a task. We use our attention to shape and frame life’s big picture as well. You can tell what a man truly values by observing what he pays attention to the most. And as countless spiritual teachers have warned, what a man pays attention to ends up molding his soul and character.
Your focus truly is your reality. For that reason, attention mastery must begin at the most macro level, with directing your attention away from that which distracts from your life’s purpose and towards what’s really important. As supreme commander of your mind, you need to know why you’re fighting this war and have an overarching plan for how you’re going to attain victory. Here’s how you draw up a strategy and stick with it:
Make sure your principles and goals are crystal-clear. When a man lacks guiding principles, his attention mindlessly pivots to whatever the world tells him is important, and typically what the world tells him is important is corrosive to a truly flourishing life. Knowing your core values and having a blueprint for your goals creates focusing lenses that help direct your attention to what matters most, while cropping out the superfluous and distracting.
Use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to get your priorities in line. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and unfortunately, seemingly urgent tasks make the most noisy grabs for our attention, even though they may not actually be important. Assigning your tasks to the different quadrants of the Eisenhower Decision Matrix can help you concentrate on what really needs to get done, instead of using up your attention in putting out little fires.
Plan out your day and week. While we typically think of planning as time management, at its core, planning is attention management. Every time you sit down to plan out your day you’re essentially deciding what you’re going to pay attention to that day. Without planning, you end up spending your attention on whatever unforeseen distractions pop up and make a play for it.
Conduct an audit to see how you currently spend your time. Even if you say you know what’s important to you, do you really put your “money” where your mouth is? Paying attention takes time — figure out how you spend the latter, and you’ll know how you’re directing the former.
Generously embed moral reminders into your life. Moral reminders are things like posters or personal manifestos that contain or symbolize your values and goals. Whenever you see these prompts, your drifting attention will be brought to heel.