September 2, 2019
Below is a lesson from Harvard Business Review on controlling what you pay attention to in order to control your life, as well as our key learning.
The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth. We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”. We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning. As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.
To Control Your Life, Control What You Pay Attention To
By Maura Thomas
One of the best insights on what true productivity means in the 21st century dates back to 1890. In his book The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1, William James wrote a simple statement that’s packed with meaning: “My experience is what I agree to attend to.”
Your attention determines the experiences you have, and the experiences you have determine the life you live. Or said another way: you must control your attention to control your life. Today, in a world where so many experiences are blended together — where we can work from home (or a train or a plane or a beach), watch our kids on a nanny-cam from work, and distraction is always just a thumb-swipe away — has that ever been more true?
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- Your attention determines the experiences you have, and the experiences you have determine the life you live.
- Attention Management – the practice of controlling distractions, being present in the moment, finding flow, and maximizing focus, so that you can unleash your genius. Being intentional instead of reactive.
- We must strengthen our attention management to be consistently productive and manage stress better. Create a life of choice around things that are important to you.
- Aspirations vs Experiences – how you see yourself and what you are passionate about won’t have the impact you’d like if your actions and experiences don’t reflect these values. If your attention continues getting diverted, time will fly by and your life becomes full of the “experiences” you never really intended to have.
- Deliberately choosing what you attend to by controlling external factors:
- Control your technology – It’s there to serve you, not the other way around! Turn off email and push notifications, turn your phone silent and out of sight, allowing you to engage in more stretches of focused work on tasks and activities that you choose.
- Control your environment – Set boundaries with others. Ex: use headphones or a “do not disturb” sign when you need focus.
- Control internal factors :
- Control your behavior by getting used to single-tasking (open only one window on your computer screen), take breaks throughout the day, unplug completely from technology for at least an hour or more.
- Control your thoughts by being mindful of when your mind is starting to wander, then gently guiding your focus back to where you want it. If you think of something important, jot it down and come back to it later.