11 Ways to Focus on the Here and Now
By Gretchen Rubin
We all know the feeling of being overwhelmed, of being beset by distractions.
The problem is, too many things are clamoring for your attention. People are trying to reach you, by phone, email, text, Twitter, IM, or old-fashioned yelling up the stairs. There are the interesting subjects you want to learn more about, on the TV or the Internet or the newspaper. Noises in the background occasionally catch your ear. Your kids all talk at the same time. Colleagues interrupt. You need to update, check in, post, or ping. Ads jump at you from the most unlikely places. Devices buzz, ring, chirp, and vibrate.
It’s enough to drive you crazy. You lose your train of thought; you forget what you’re doing; you have trouble re-engaging in a task; you feel besieged.
But there are steps you might consider to quiet the buzz in your brain – even if you don’t want to take up meditation.
In addition to feeling calmer and more focused, you’ll probably become more efficient, too. Turns out that people aren’t very good at thinking about two things at once. One study showed that when people were interrupted to respond to email or IM, it took about fifteen minutes for them to resume a serious mental task. So consider taking steps like these, at least occasionally, and rediscover the quiet focus within.
Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness.