“Something To Sleep On Newsletter from 04/22/2018”
Quote I am Pondering: “Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.” – Bill Russell
Shiny Object Syndrome!!
It seems that everyone around me is afflicted by this. With no evidence to support this, I’m convinced it has reached pandemic proportions. So, what is Shiny Object Syndrome exactly? You know it when you see it. You know it even better when you experience it. It’s been described as the “disease of distraction”, a phenomenon that I often refer to as “collective ADD”. I fight mightily every day to keep from succumbing to it. Statistically speaking, I suspect you do too.
How many times a minute do you reflexively reach for your smart phone? A study published by Deloitte found that the average American checks his or her phone almost 50 times a day. And most people check their phones while shopping, watching television, during leisure time, and even while dining out (to the tune of 81% by the way).
Do you often find your mind wondering from that “thing”, whatever it is, that you were going to concentrate on at the exclusion of all else? Or do you fool yourself into thinking you can effectively multitask as your attention flits from one thing to another, when numerous studies have demonstrated that effective multitasking is a fool’s dream?
Don’t answer this– does your mind wander when you’re in the midst of a face-to-face conversation with someone? You’re engaged in a supposed dialogue and suddenly realize that you have not heard the topic shift. Instead, you’ve spent time thinking about a dozen other things.
Sound familiar? We are inundated with distractions. And instead of getting better, it seems to be getting worse by the day. So how do we deal with this? How do we shake off this modern-day affliction?
Several things come to mind that we can all do now to battle Shiny Object Syndrome.
- When you engage with others, lock eyes with them, actively block out all distractions, and pay attention to what they’re saying. If you find your mind wandering, “grab yourself by the scruff of the neck and shake really hard” (metaphorically of course).
- Establish specific times of the day and set time limits for attending to your various devices. Otherwise, set them aside, out of sight, and don’t look at them. This is particularly important at mealtime.
- Allocate segments of your day for focusing on one thing at a time. Codify these segments into daily lists that are “front and center” and that you can look at regularly. If your mind wanders to something else, consult your list and reel yourself back in.
- At the end of each day, take five minutes to assess how you did that day. Score yourself. And decide how you’re going to do even better tomorrow. If you can handle it, ask your spouse or significant other to grade you.
Habits are not easy to change, but these simple things are a good start. And if you still struggle with distraction after trying to go it alone, send out an “SOS” and ask others to help you accomplish your objectives!
Do You Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish?
If you want a real eye-opener, read this very short piece by Kevin McSpadden and learn how You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish. But don’t let it depress you … you can change!
What tricks have you found to be particularly effective in helping you concentrate and avoid distraction?
For over thirty years, Mike has been actively involved, as a coach, entrepreneur, scientist, business executive and management consultant, in the areas of executive leadership, organizational development and change management, strategic planning and execution, and financial analysis. He has provided strategic, operational and financial leadership to small and medium-sized firms, as well as Fortune 500 companies and large government organizations, in a broad range of industries. Mike holds BS and PhD degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology and has had additional training in finance and accounting, strategic planning and management, leadership development, and succession planning, from various top-tier institutions.