Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

2 1/2 Undistracted Hours

There is a reason an increasing number of US states are passing laws that ban driving while holding an electronic device.

Humans are highly distractible and incapable of multi-tasking.

The ability to focus on one project, problem, or person is a rare thing.

So this weekend - try this and see how well you do.

Focus on a single project

Choose a thing you’ve started. Or a thing you want to start. It doesn’t matter. It could be replacing a faucet in the upstairs bathroom or scrapbooking or writing a novel. You can start. You can finish. You can work in the messy middle. It doesn’t matter. Set a timer and work on the project for 60 minutes without looking at anything else. Don’t Instagram your progress. Don’t check Twitter. Don’t try to watch Friends reruns. Focus on one thing.

Focus on a single problem

This is harder. But if you can learn this skill, you will become the most valuable person in your workplace. Choose a problem. Any problem. Maybe it’s a thorny issue at work or the way to set up functions on a spreadsheet. Could be the route you need to take for your cross-country road trip next month. Armed with only a pen and a notebook, set your timer and work on this problem for 30 minutes. I recommend only analog tools for this one. (If it’s the road-trip thing, print off some maps from the Internet ahead of time.)

Focus on a single person

Choose one person. Someone with whom you need to spend some time this weekend. Have an hour-long, phone-free conversation. Go to dinner or sit on the couch, it doesn’t matter. But focus your attention to one person. Ask great questions. And listen well. Again, this person could be your spouse or a child or a parent or a friend. The important part is no phone. No TV. No screens of any kind. Do it for an hour. (No timers here, because people feel weird about timed conversations.)

That’s 2 1/2 undistracted hours this weekend. Can you do it?

Let me know how it goes.