Cultivating Focus

A couple of things have been going on that are causing me to think about discipline and focus. There’s this really great article on cultivating focus: Also, I’ve been working on some unusual and “outside of the box” issues at work that have been particularly challenging and I recently pulled down a little app called “Tiny Tower” in addition to switching to google reader for a lot of web browsing stuff.

Basically, I realized that I’ve been allowing little distractions to creep in and steal my time and attention instead of dealing with the hard issues head on. I’ve listened to way too much of Merlin Mann’s stuff to not be aware that I’m doing this stuff. Unfortunately, getting out of this mode is really hard.


Things to go do right now:

  • Delete Tiny Tower. This has got to be one of the worst examples of a game that is designed to consume your attention and your time. The game is set up so that you can give them money for the in-game resources that you can otherwise only get by giving it time and attention. It is in the category of “virtual pet” games which all have the same basic tradeoff.
  • Get inboxes to zero. The real difficulity I’m having with this is that I don’t trust my todo lists right now. So I have to go back to classic David Allen and get trust back in my system so that I can get my inboxes to zero. This is tricky.
  • Close google reader. This is not a fix-all. The real underlying issue is that I’m polling “inboxes” to find the latest interesting nugget, which isn’t a good use of my time and attention. I need to stay focused on larger, difficult tasks.

Longer term:

  • Need to construct some ceremony in the day/week to reenforce important, but not urgent tasks like a weekly review, spending time in the Bible, other relational activites, reading and writing longer form materials and thinking about them.
  • Particularly at home, I need to not be as driven by urgent issues. Part of this is getting over the push of the urgent things to get at the source of urgent things and getting things clear enought to be able to easily respond to new needs. Check out Proverbs 15:19 “The way of a sluggard is like an hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway.” By doing the work to keep things, clean, organized and uncluttered, it is much easier to respond to needs. Around the house, we’ve got a lot of this “technical debt” that needs to be paid down.