Attention attention attention attention!

Photo by Artem Bryzgalov on Unsplash

Do I have your attention? Because there are a lot of things vying for it. Your work, people and groups of people that want something (AKA lots of organizations and causes), your friends, family and significant others, maybe your pets or stray animals…

You’ve probably heard the truism, What we focus on expands.

And you may know that the average human brain can only hold 7 pieces of discrete information at once, give or take. Long-term memory is limited as well.

This has enormous implications for how we create boundaries between ourselves and the world (I agree that we’re connected energetically if you’re thinking it, I’m referring to practical boundaries for navigating challenges and influencing results in a material world).

Some solid ways to build better boundaries include the following:

Time blocking, deadlines, power hours and deep work time, working from home, Do Not Disturb and airplane mode. This is a mainstream, evidence-based approach. Just make sure you’re willing to submit to the structure and you don’t relate to it in a way that’s disempowering (e.g. “I have to do this thing now”).

Structures are a meaningless means of control sans a clear purpose extending beyond achievement. Spend time clarifying your vision. What truly excites you? What matters most to you not just now but in the future? What goals express your values? If your vision were a meal, what core ingredients would make it delicious? If it were a piece of art, what colors would make it beautiful? I love mind maps. Others love starting with vision board, future self/inner mentor avatar or a 5-year plan. Start where your brain starts naturally and go from there.

Anything that trains you to selectively focus your attention and pushes your performance edge — sports, choreographed or partner dance, meditation, cooking — helps. Leadership and coach training also expand executive function, assuming they challenge you. If you suspect or have been suspected of having ADHD, you can be formally diagnosed and treated and/or explore self-help supports.

Learning to laser focus bears the risk of missing important information and making bad choices as a result. This is always a risk since cognitive capacity is limited, and means it’s all the more important to be intentional and emotionally connected as we decide what we want to pay attention to in the first place and as we get feedback.

By seeing big picture, staying receptive to feedback, living in versus outside of our bodies and fine-tuning our ability to laser focus vis a vis strong yet flexible boundaries, we’ll be much more conscious, effective and joyful. We’ll be intentional and pay attention. We’ll be in “connected flow” for the greater good.

What purposeful high performer wouldn’t want that?

Want more work tips and inspiration? Subscribe to my weekly newsletter at caseyonder.com.

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Casey Onder, PhD

Psychologist, success coach, believer in solid behavioral science and the power of tuning in.