Focus on the Big Picture

Our lives today are constantly being bombarded with so many distractions that being able to focus on one thing is almost impossible, but if you know me, impossible is not in my vocabulary. Well, even though I believe I can do several things at once like type a blog post, listen to music and think out my thoughts clearly, scientists are saying otherwise. Multitaks, multak…multitasking is actually more harmful…okay you get the point.

Actually, yes, multitasking does more harm than good because it doesn’t allow our brains to focus on one thing well but rather allows us to be mediocre and makes us do things of only moderate quaity. In other words, we are a jack of all trades and master of none. Or to put it in scientific terms, not very good at one thing.

So, how to combat this? Easy, focus. Focus on one thing at a time and do that for a bit, but only that “one” thing until it gets done. “For how long?”, you asked. Great question. There is an optimal time and that time block is about 1 hour. Our brains can’t really hold that much information in the short-term area before handing that information off to either the long-term or into an area “storage area” for later use. The short-term memory also known as working memory, moves and becomes long-term memory through the hippocampus.

Now, there’s a more at play here and a lot more areas of the brain at work but the basic idea is the same. The two main areas of the brain at work here is the hippocampus and an adjacent brain area, called the subiculum. Recent studies shows that both areas are required to process information correctly.

The strategy for me here is when I want to learn something new, say a foreign language like Russian, I set aside blocks of time. I plan out one hour blocks and fill them in accordingly. Now, you can’t obviously fill your entire day and expect every hour to go back without unexpected distractions, like a crying baby or your son asking for lunch because you’ve been too busy focusing on your one hour blocks. Studies show that 50 minutes is actually the greatest amount of time we should devote to one project at one time. Leaving us 10 minutes to relax, rest and take a break before moving one. So, I will allocate 5 hours of work to various subjects that need addressed and allow in time for distractions and play time as well. For example, I will set aside one hour in between studies or design work for checking emails or returning phone calls. This way, I still feel productive but I know I am really doing busy work that I would otherwise be doing while trying to design. I also allow myself some “me” time with Facebook or Instagram. Again, this is a good release and breaks up my work time into a more productive rhythm since I would be doing it anyways, at least I’m doing it in a more productive manner.

Also, make sure to add in time for little unimportant things like, eating lunch. And remember one very important message, while focusing one the little one hour blocks, make sure to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. It’s no good climbing up the ladder of success only to realize once you’ve made it up that your ladder was leaning up against the wrong wall. Don’t be so focused on one thing that everything else passes you by.

Until the next post, make your life worth living by finding your personal greatness, cheers!

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