A Productivity Expert's Common-Sense Solutions for Mastering Your Finite Attention

Now, what can you do right now to harness the finite nature of your attention?

 

Big Think Edge is a video-driven platform that catalyzes happiness and performance in professional environments by cultivating leadership, creativity, and self-knowledge. Learn more about Big Think Edge.


Optimize the physiological conditions necessary for ideal attention management. You want to create an environment that supports your unique attention management needs and minimizes the impact of the hardwiring of your brain. If you are tired, hungry, or stressed you are fighting an uphill battle with your attention.  Guess who is always going to win – your brain!

+ Keep packets of nuts, granola bars, or dried fruit in your office drawer, pocket book, briefcase, and/or glove compartment of your car to stay properly fueled for maximum focus.

+ Create a playlist of soothing and energizing music to help you relax or recharge after stressful interactions and conversations.

+ Keep comfortable shoes in your desk drawer or in your car or work bag so you can go for a quick walk up and down the halls of your office building or outside your office building.

+Physical movement is one of the most effective ways to mentally reset and discharge negative energy. And you do not have to walk long to benefit – ten minutes is all it takes.

Optimize the physiological conditions required for you to manage your attention, and you should be able to boost your sense of focus.

Retrain your brain using a brain reboot. Refocusing is hard because we have trained our brains to work on a variety of things at one time. How often have you checked email during a conference call or fed your child breakfast, unloaded the dishwasher, and packed lunches at the same time? This habit does not improve your productivity; instead, it undermines your ability to focus. By rebooting your brain, you are rewiring it for optimal functioning. 

To reboot your brain:

Visualize a reset button in your brain and say, “I need to hit reboot and get back on track.” This takes the spotlight off the distraction and forces you to refocus on your task.

Use specific breathing techniques. 

+ Take a deep inhalation breath, pushing out your navel, and then powerfully expelling the air by slightly bringing in your stomach. Repeat this breath five to seven times and observe how the tension and mental chatter in your mind dissipates.

+ Another breath that also short circuits your mental chatter is to place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and blow out as if you were blowing out candles on a birthday cake. As you blow out, count to seven. You can now regain your focus.

Tate says taking a good hard look at all the things you assume you "should" do and question why they're so important. By seeing beyond the veneer of our "shoulds," we can better understand when it's best to say, "Yes," and when it benefits us to say, "No."

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Keep reading Show less

Cheers! How the physics of fizz contributes to human happiness

The phenomenon that makes our favourite drinks bubbly is, alarmingly, the same one that causes decompression sickness in divers. Why do we still love it?

Surprising Science

Think of the last time you had something to celebrate. If you toasted the happy occasion, your drink was probably alcoholic – and bubbly.

Keep reading Show less

10 new things we’ve learned about death

If you don't want to know anything about your death, consider this your spoiler warning.

Culture & Religion
  • For centuries cultures have personified death to give this terrifying mystery a familiar face.
  • Modern science has demystified death by divulging its biological processes, yet many questions remain.
  • Studying death is not meant to be a morbid reminder of a cruel fate, but a way to improve the lives of the living.
Keep reading Show less