Beginning Focus (Jan 8, 2020)

Greetings Fellow Wonderers

As previously mentioned, I am determined to study and then develop some focus in 2020. Call it a “resolution” if you must – it prolly qualifies but the fear is that using the word solely will jinx the effort so I shall refer to it as a goal and a project.

What is meant by “Focus”? Why is it so difficult to tell my distractions to “Piss Off!”? How can I strengthen my ability to focus and concentrate in any given moment – and then, over a period of time (like pursuing a goal or project or holding to a resolution?

I’ve added a number of books to my reading queue to support this months learning project. Some I’ve read before – at least in part. Others have been randomly picked up for “someday”. The process I’ve designed for this learning journal is pretty simple (and I believe it needs to remain so). First, I spend some time reading, daily as much as is possible. I already have a habit of highlighting the bits that strike me as interesting or useful or clever – and so I will do that. I will then select one or two highlights for the day and write from them. I intend to write beyond the “summary” or “book report” format – I intend the writing to be reflections, responses, and maybe a bit of rebuttal to content.

When learning something new, it seems handy to begin with a recollection of what one already knows. What are the existing concepts and beliefs that are in play? Which of these should be reinforced and which should be reduced, re-thought or run-down and eradicated? So that is where I am, the beginning…

Focus… what is focus in my own words? The cognitive ability to remain on a single track of thinking or study or awareness or presence.

What is it’s opposite concept? Distraction seems the fitting word. A distraction being “a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.”

Once a month or so, I teach a week-long Problem Solving training course where I work my day job. Because I work at a tech company – everyone in the class is toting a laptop and are very likely to get pulled away from the training by work items – by distractions. In suggesting some “best practices” for getting the most out of the training, I say this: “Multi-tasking is merely practicing distraction. Distraction is bad for your brain. Practice Focus. Focus is good for you!”. Few it seems actually hear me when I say this because most will attempt to multi-task within hours (sometimes minutes) of having suggested it is a bad idea. I have to remind myself that distraction is not only a habit for them (and me) but it is also an addiction of sorts. We live in a climate of attention snatching technology. I believe also… it is a health risk.

I have been in my career field for 20 years now. Early on, my ability to learn new technologies was strong – I was seen as a “quick learner” and a good resource for new team members to work with as a result. Today, however, I struggle to learn new technologies quickly. It requires more time than it ever used to and I feel like it is often a slog. There may be many possible reasons in play – but in reflection I have to admit that the time I spend learning on the job is rife with distraction, and that is a primary reason I struggle to learn quickly. (Granted, I am also 20 years older than when I started out and it is possible I am just slowing down some.)

Speaking of work – I am getting pinged to engage there… will need to return to this line of thinking tomorrow.