Struggling to focus? You’re not alone! According to a 2010 Harvard study the average person’s mind wanders nearly 50% of the time. And in 2020 (the year we will never forget), we are experiencing unprecedented levels of distraction.
Turns out, on top of the kids and our own monkey minds, a main culprit (you guessed it!) is the smartphone. Attention is key to our mental health, keeping us more discerning, and clear minded.
You’ll notice in a mindfulness class, you’ll often be asked to draw your attention to your breath. This helps get you out of the flux of the thoughts in your mind, and focus on what’s there in the present moment.
Attention is also a precious commodity, making us more productive at work. Angela Duckworth, the author of “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” says “Some would argue that human attention, not money, is the most valuable commodity there is…. it’s the ultimate scarce resource” (New York Times).
Smartphones are actually making us less ‘smart’ (!), drawing our attention away from the task at hand.
The good news is that focus is a skill you can cultivate and improve. The brain then learns to ignore distractions. We can learn to manage our iPhone’s in a healthier way, and spend more time in a ‘flow’ state – where you are deeply engaged and merged with the object of your focus.
We’ve all taken various steps to manage the distractions inherent in smartphones – turning off distracting ‘dings’, perhaps switching off the phone itself and going for a run, or placing it out of eyeview. And if you’re rebellious (!) – buying a dumbphone.
Our blog “Six Mindfulness Apps to help you Get the Most out of Your Day” also outlines some fantastic mindfulness apps that help to clear the brain fog.
Two other worthwhile apps to download are: Freedom and Forest.
Freedom is designed to “reclaim focus and productivity”, blocking websites from your smartphone and computer (such as tempting online shopping!).
Forest sets a timer encircling the image of a tree. If you pick up your phone before the timer finishes the tree dies (aww), but if you successfully focus on the task at hand again and again, it creates a lush forest!
All a bit of fun to keep us contentedly focused.
Stay well, and see you soon!
The Stable Team