There are a LOT of ways for us to get distracted in this day and age. In fact, according to some studies, we humans now officially have less of an attention span than goldfish! (Read more about that here)
Smartphones (one of the biggest distractions of the modern age) are a powerful tool, but they are also a dangerous liability if we have our face and attention buried in them at the wrong time. For the purpose of self-protection, we need to be aware of when we are distracted (our attention is being drawn in different directions) or potentially even worse, fully focused on just one thing, but it happens to be the wrong thing. Then once we recognize our focus isn’t where it should be, we need to be able to change it.
The good news is that paying attention is a skill. The more we practice, the better we get. A simple exercise I like to use for practice is to take five minutes to pay full attention to what is around me. It can be a random five minutes, but I also like to have a specific time in mind too. For me, I like to use walking out to the mailbox. I try to be as attentive and aware as possible when walking out to get the mail. Since its such a mundane task, it is amazing how often the mind can wander in a four to five minute walk. Not to mention the times I get back with the mail and THEN remember I was supposed to pay attention.
Of course, I am actually mindful of my surroundings and pay attention in many situations all through my day (and we’ll talk about some other important drills in future blogs) but I pick this one time during my day to really pay attention to how I pay attention as an exercise. That exercise helps improve my ability to shift focus when I’m distracted. By practicing this humble little drill, it won’t be long before you find yourself less tempted to distraction, and more ready to shift focus when needed, in other times during your day as well.