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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 03, 2011

The Scattered Mind: Finding Focus in a World of Distractions

By Mark Sisson
102 Comments

Scenario time. You’re in the grocery store picking up the last couple of things for dinner. Pushing your cart through the small throng who also stopped on their way home from work, you weave your way through with the obligatory, alternating “excuse me” and “pardon me.” You fumble through your pocket for the list you’d scribbled last minute on a post-it. Hmmm… good sale on chicken thighs. The familiar ding of a text notification goes off with your partner’s reminder of one more thing needed from the store – spinach. You reach over and grab the onion you were looking for and go in search of the garlic. Annoying music over the speakers. Better check work email one more time. “Ooops. Sorry about that,” you remark after bumping someone’s cart. The person grimaces at you with a passive aggressive nod. Thanks. There’s the email response you were waiting for. Great, another meeting on the same issue. You’ll have to gather materials to email tomorrow for everyone. What else was on the list? Don’t forget to wash the whites tonight. There’s the garlic. Why is it necessary to waste more time on that project? Tonight is the night to fix the shutters. After dinner. No, after the kids are in bed. Man, that was a mother of a wind storm last week. It would be nice to have a free night for once. That Netflix movie has been sitting there for how many weeks? Maybe just cancel the service. Why bother? Checkout. Long line. Geez, that person has how many bags of Cheetos? Any good magazines while I stand here? Celebrity baby bumps – who cares? Next in line finally. Hmmm… didn’t know she was pregnant. Wait, the d–n spinach! Groan.

Anyone here identify? Hands? Yes, these days it’s hard to find anyone who’s not busy. Whether we’re young or old, single or married, parents or not, there’s plenty to juggle. Modern life, for all its many “conveniences,” has done little to alter the bottom line on the day’s schedule. Nonetheless, there’s a decided difference between the person who’s occupied with a task and one who’s chronically preoccupied in the midst of their obligations. Two peoples’ calendars might look the same, but their respective experiences can differ as much as night and day.

How many of us go through the day scattered, easily distracted by the extraneous details of our settings, overwrought by the mental chatter playing in our minds. In the immediate moment, we compromise job or relationship performance. We forget things. We make mistakes and have to take more time redoing whatever it is we messed up (like the shopping list). Our kids, partner, or friends clearly see we’re not “all there.” (So much for affirming those connections today.) We’re left, finally, with that burned out, fried, hollowed out, jangly feeling – you know the one.

Recently, experts discovered the “filter” in the prefrontal cortex that helps us block out those extraneous stimuli (and, yes, there’s a lot of that in our modern world). It’s the filter that helps us hone in on the person talking to us in a crowded room, that allows us to focus on our task in the midst of a hectic work site, that helps us remain directed on a quick shopping trip instead of getting sucked into every sale display.

As we age, this filter, well, falters. The busier an environment, for example, the harder it is for the brain to resist absorbing the peripheral stuff. We’re, technically speaking, more prone to distraction. Age requires more patience and effort to focus in the midst of mayhem.

There’s an apparent upside to this age-related shift in distractibility, however. One study found that older adults – because of their typical declining pattern in attentional focus – were able to “hyperbind” information – unconsciously integrate “seemingly extraneous co-occurrences” and then consciously find patterns in this information later. As the study leaders noted, this ability can have a substantial – and rich – impact on “real world decision-making.” Because they encode this additional information, older adults have more to go on when making related decisions.

It makes sense, I think. In the “primitive” context, young adults were the doers, the generative group who did the majority of hard physical labor involved in hunting, gathering, building, etc. Focus makes sense in these activities. Older members of the tribe offered leadership and advisory perspective. Wisdom and creativity are honed by seeing the bigger, broader picture, by perceiving and bringing together both the obviously pertinent and, oftentimes, less expected but illuminating aspects of an issue.

Whether we embrace the “silver lining” or not, there’s plenty we can do to fine tune our filters in every life stage. As is nearly always the case, common age related patterns needn’t be absolute destiny. Biology presents the basic content and components behind our abilities, but intention – cultivated – largely determines the precision of their use. The more we challenge the many dimensions of our cognition throughout our lifetime, the more complex – and resilient – it will be. Study authors say the often recommended activities like learning a new language or playing an instrument hones our overall brain function.

Meditation, however, may offer an even more efficient means for “attentional training.” A small study showed that participants who practiced mindful meditation for eight weeks showed more control over their alpha waves, a particular frequency associated with the processing of sensory stimuli – what we feel, see and hear. Other research has confirmed the benefits of meditation for concentration, “executive functioning” like prioritizing and goals setting, and memory performance.

What’s more? Meditation can help the brain de-clutter itself and find clear space again. Given the chance to step back from the frenzy, people plagued by scatteredness realize it’s not really about the tasks themselves (which probably aren’t that different than other people’s to-do lists). Beyond the bustle of the occasional harried day, a scattered mind suggests a deeper disintegration.

Maybe it all started sometime ago in the midst of an overwhelming stretch – the birth of newborn, an insane time at work, the circus of hosting a big holiday. We worked ourselves into a flurry, darting from task to task, letting our thoughts go hog wild jostling for our constant attention. Somewhere along the line we got used to it in a dysfunctional kind of way. It was like it had to be this way. Except it doesn’t.

Meditation can offer the space for a reintegration, a psychic culling of the superfluous and gravitation toward what’s essential. If a scattered mind suggests a random, desperate piecing out of one’s attention, meditation’s core principle – centering – is about reassembling the far-flung parts and ordering them once again.

At the end of the day, it comes down to what your mother always told you: focus on what you’re doing. Shut down the self-talk. Commit to the activity at hand. Beat back the compulsion to check your email yet again. In more meditative terms, observe and let go of each distraction. When you’re out in a busy environment, let yourself hone in by letting the rest dissolve into the peripheral pool. Focus, centeredness – whatever you want to call it – is something to cultivate throughout our lives and something that, in turn, cultivates us.

It’s the state that allows for flow. Sure, not every moment of focus will bring on the rewards of flow, but the simple peace that comes from a slower, more deliberate pace is nothing to shake a stick at either. When the whirling stops and the frenzy dies down, there’s a lot more to appreciate in the moment than we may have noticed before.

Thanks for stopping by today. Let me know your thoughts on living in the “unscattered” moment. Have a great week, everyone!

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91 Comments on "The Scattered Mind: Finding Focus in a World of Distractions"

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shannon
shannon
5 years 6 months ago

Knitting.

FoCo Girl
FoCo Girl
5 years 6 months ago

Agreed.

Jen
Jen
5 years 6 months ago

and jigsaw puzzles

Just Joan
Just Joan
5 years 6 months ago

And reading and listening to Mozart (or any classical music).

Nutritionator
5 years 6 months ago

Couldn’t agree more on the jigsaw puzzle, a good 2000 piece takes a while and is great before bed, and you can frame them afterwards for free wall art!

Primal Toad
5 years 6 months ago

MARK!

You need to create a grok jigsaw puzzle! That was one of the challenges in the team challenge!

Do it Mark. Who is with me?

Newt
Newt
5 years 6 months ago

Double-agree. Knitting is wonderful.

Primal Toad
5 years 6 months ago
Wow Mark, really? Did you really just post this? I posted my “11 Challenges for May” post just 9 minutes ago. One of them is to meditate throughout each day in order to get my focus back. Most of us do live a rushed life. I am guilty of this as anyone else. But, I am ready to make a change. I believe full well that meditation is going to be the #1 key to this. It will be exciting to see where I am on June 1. I have also been thinking of doing both of these: “Study authors… Read more »
Geoff's #1 Fan
Geoff's #1 Fan
5 years 6 months ago

One of these eleven challenges should probably be moving out of your parent’s house.

Primal Toad
5 years 6 months ago
I love you Geoff. I really do. At first I hated you. Today, you make me laugh. I have plans to move out on June 1. Moving out does not qualify as a “challenge” since its a one time deal and since its happening on June 1 which is less than 1 month. Where am I going next once my 6 month lease is up? Florida. I was thinking California but now I am thinking Florida. I think the winters will be perfect there! Emily, Yes he is a tool. He is simply jealous of me. His new name is… Read more »
Primal Toad
5 years 6 months ago

Ah Emily… You have joined the Geoff crowd. Sorry to hear that. I hope all is well with you.

Hayden Tompkins
5 years 6 months ago

You know what’s so interesting. I can’t read this article on the screen – something about the formatting? – and have to print it out to see what you’ve said. Otherwise my brain just slides right over it.

Megan
Megan
5 years 6 months ago

That’s funny because I usually have to highlight on screen using my mouse to be able to fully focus on reading this… once Mark said something about checking emails, I really had to force myself to not check my email. I have been working on this also!

Primal Toad
5 years 6 months ago

I also drag my mouse across the text to read the articles in full.

Mark – Your paragraphs are quite large for me and possibly a few others. Just my 2 cents. The first one in this article is outrageous!

Alison Golden
5 years 6 months ago

Agreed. re. that first paragraph.

Uncephalized
Uncephalized
5 years 6 months ago

I for one appreciate the large paragraphs. He’s writng essays, not journalistic sound bites. You just need to train yourself to tune in and read carefully–which is, after all, the point of the post!

Jenny
Jenny
5 years 6 months ago

This is why I waffle between primal concepts like taking it easy, vs. GTD (Getting Things Done) task management approaches. “But there’s so much to do! … but I’m stressing out about it!”

I have to hit some kind of happy medium where I can get the _key_ things done without biting off too much. Gotta allow for relaxation. Somehow.

Primal Renewal
Primal Renewal
5 years 6 months ago

Personally, I don’t find a difference between the two. GTD is about freeing the mind from the chaos to focus on the task – the next action – at hand without distraction. It is very freeing and relaxing to know the chaos is organized and all those other things are accounted and planned for. Implemented fully and consistently, GTD is quite calming, centering, and increases focused and effective productivity and helps manage a balanced and fulfilling life. It isn’t the opposite at all. It is very freeing.

johnnyboy
johnnyboy
5 years 6 months ago

Funny. At first I had no fondness for blogs. I was initially turned on GTD and eventually started following the ZTD blog (Leo’s Zen Habits), which eventually pointed me to this blog. Now after over 3 years I get a nudge back to GTD again (Yup, fell off the bandwagon bigtime)

Matt Scofield
5 years 4 hours ago

Jenny that’s exactly apt for the dynamic I’m trying to manage in my life, would be interested to hear more on how you balance it.

Good discussion in general here

Resurgent
Resurgent
5 years 6 months ago

The greatest obsession that we suffer is of ‘that which should be’.

We should have no concern with that which should be. Our whole concern should be the immediate, that which is. And what is really surprising is that when one enters into the immediate, One will find the ultimate in.

When one moves in the present moment, the whole eternity is in one’s hands.

Great post Mark..!!

Adrian Betts
5 years 6 months ago

Instead of setting aside specific time for meditation, I’ve found it useful to just focus on the mundane stuff while I’m doing it. So if I’m brushing my teeth and catch myself thinking about something else, I make myself concentrate on brushing my teeth again.

It’s amazing how often our minds are not on what we’re doing at the moment.

Peggy The Primal Parent
5 years 6 months ago
Really? Brushing your teeth? I have always found that there are some things in life that are totally uninteresting and turning the focus off of them is perfectly ok. I’m not saying you’re wrong but I can’t see myself feeling content this way. I am a thinker in general and would not have much time for developing thoughts and working out new ideas if I were focusing on brushing my teeth. It seems to me that there are some actions which require very little attention – the subconscious is quite equipped to take over. Now, if I’m writing an article… Read more »
Primal Toad
5 years 6 months ago
I agree with you Peggy. If there is one focus for me this month it is to, well, focus! I will be meditating daily but also will consciously focus on what I am doing at any given time with a few exceptions. I think one of those exceptions is brushing my teeth. Although I have heard of fantastic benefits of brushing with your OPPOSITE hand as far as your brain goes. It stimulates it in in someway. Also, try putting in your opposite leg first in your pant or short. Open your car door or house door with your other… Read more »
bbuddha
bbuddha
5 years 6 months ago

I keep trying to develop my “other” handedness. I have to say I’m not doing too well… I have to brush my teeth with my right hand after doing it with my left hand, so uncoordinated.

Jason Martin
5 years 6 months ago
“Observe the space between your thoughts, then observe the observer.” – Hamilton Boudreaux Always be mindful and live in the present moment, whether meditating, doing the dishes, working, exercising, or even skydiving! Being mindful of the the present moment and focusing awareness on your current experience does not mean that you can’t think anymore, or that you won’t have time to develop thoughts. Actually, quite the contrary! Through mindfulness, you will actually notice your mind works more efficiently and effectively. By not constantly being distracted by thought, you can step back and live in the gap in-between where one thought… Read more »
Ika
5 years 6 months ago

great idea =) i’m trying to do this, too

The Primalist
5 years 6 months ago

It’s amazing how something so simple (basically sitting and breathing) can be so hard at the same time. It’s like we’re so accustomed to hectically rushing about that we’re almost unable to sit still and just focus on the present moment. It’s definitely something I’m working on myself.

crunchycon
crunchycon
5 years 6 months ago

Great topic, as focus is something I’m not doing so well at these days. And not to be nit-picky, but, like Hayden, I had trouble reading this on the screen, as your links, although very pertinent and interesting, caused me to lose focus. I kept clicking and going elsewhere:)

J. Stanton
5 years 6 months ago

There’s a difference between being busy and getting things done.

“Multitaskers” only think they’re doing a lot. Mainly they’re flitting from email to Twitter to text message to phone to co-worker, never actually completing anything substantial. But they sure do look busy!

ElleHad
ElleHad
5 years 6 months ago
Have you ever heard of A.J. Jacobs? He’s the guy who wrote The Year of Living Biblically, if that rings a bell (a year long experiment of living the “ultimate biblical life” if it doesn’t!). Another book by him is My Life as an Experiment, where one of the experiments is 30 days of being a Unitasker; from taking a shower without the radio on; all the way to absolutely no conversation, eating and savoring the food only, over dinner with his wife. He even went as far as to tie himself to his desk chair with an extension cord… Read more »
Jenn
Jenn
5 years 6 months ago

I found myself feeling frenzied just reading your description of frenzied thoughts. I try not to succumb to that jittery state of mind, soonce I recognized it, I had to stop and re-focus myself. Just a brief moment or three with my eyes shut and a few cleansing breaths. Then I finished reading the article about meditation!

Steve M.
Steve M.
5 years 6 months ago
Great post. It reminds me of information in Gavin de Becker’s book for Protectors, “Just 2 Seconds”. He talks of how Protectors (protective detail agents) need to be “pre-sent” in the Now, rather than distracted by the myriad details that flow through our minds: “With the mind at bay, your attention can move from Now to Now, releasing each moment almost instantaneously so the the next can be perceived. In protective work (and in life), the rewards come when each past moment is allowed to expire gracefully, without resistance, so the current moment can live fully. Remaining in the Now… Read more »
RayDawg
RayDawg
5 years 6 months ago
I suspect part of the problem is that we’re used to commercials while watching TV. This builds the expectation that every ~8 minutes, we need to turn away from what we’re doing and do something else. i.e. shorter attention spans. Same happens when we try to multitask, and of course, we acclimate to this kind of thing and get used to flying from one task to another, so our ability to focus drops. But maybe this ability of ours to follow one topic onto another and so forth is a very human thing, and can be very useful (or detrimental… Read more »
Sarah
Sarah
5 years 6 months ago
I found that I lost much of my attention span while I was raising my children – there was always so much going on… and we didn’t even do all of the extras that so many people cope with. Now that I spend much of my time at home, learning small-scale farming, my life is so peaceful. Sure, there are stresses with the animals – I’m continually checking on them, observing, and doing all I can to keep them healthy and happy. But I find that when I am caring for them, it’s such a joy to be “in the… Read more »
Lindsey
5 years 6 months ago

Great stuff!!! We are too busy and WAY to distracted!

Have you ever noticed that we are so busy that when we are stopped at stop lights and the light is red, we nudge forward. We can’t go anywhere… the light is clearly red! What are we thinking!?!?

Fast food is thriving on our “busy” lives and advertising about it… Anyone else every notice that!

Thanks again for the great post!

Timothy
5 years 6 months ago
Years ago, I took a two-week vacation in a remote place where there wasn’t much to do. It was the longest vacation I ever had. For the first several days my mind couldn’t settle down. I was restless without the constant barrage of information I have grown accustomed to since birth. But somewhere in the middle of the second week, something funny happened. The relentless cacophony of mental alarms fell silent. No longer was my mind obsessively planning the minutes, hours, and days ahead. My soul was at peace, fulfilled in the moment. It seemed that must have been the… Read more »
Primal Toad
5 years 6 months ago

May I ask where that remote place was exactly? I would LOVE to do something like this… this year.

Timothy
5 years 6 months ago

Toad, I was very lucky and won a vacation in Tahiti. But I think anywhere tropical without cell phone service would do just as well. There’s something about those sunnier latitudes that makes it easy to slip into a primal state of mind. Just make sure you allow enough downtime for the mental decompression to kick in.

Gingersnapper
5 years 6 months ago

I also visited Tahiti and will remember it as the most wonderful vacation I’ve ever had. BUT I also think you can get the same decompression in any climate just by turning off the cell phone, the computer, and the television. Around here we sometimes take a beach vacation in the winter because the rates are so much lower – it’s just as relaxing even when it’s not hot!

Even so, next time you go to Tahiti, call me!

Crunchy Pickle
5 years 6 months ago

Sometimes I stop to realize how LITTLE is actually required of me. If I am really worn down I stop and think, “Is everyone fed?” “Does everyone have something to wear?” “Have I missed a bill I must pay today?”

If those are taken care of, then we are in pretty good shape. From there, I can add back in an item or two as I have the mental capacity to handle it. 🙂

Jen
Jen
5 years 6 months ago

A bit piece of my stress management has been to get distractions under control. I use the Getting Things Done methodology by David Allen. It’s a HUGE help. Using his method helps my subconsience believe that everything is under control so it doesn’t contantly bug me. It’s a way of keeping track of everything in a trusted system like Outlook or Evernote so your subconscience can let go of it.

Alison Golden
5 years 6 months ago

I don’t have an iPhone or a Droid (not even sure what that is) or anything like that. I have a cell phone for emergencies.

Can’t imagine anything worse that always being on call.

Meg
5 years 6 months ago
This is great. I think you described me perfectly in the grocery store except I don’t go as far as to make a list, I print out a bunch of recipes and try and scramble finding the missing ingredients that I may or may not have at home. Yikes! I’m a mess! I think meditation would be a very healthy thing for me at this point in my life. I have A LOT going on and hardly any free nights. It may help to relax and for once stop running the to-do lists through my head for 10 minutes. Thanks… Read more »
Paul
5 years 6 months ago
Another great post Mark!! When started my own business, I became easy distracted because there is always something to do. i began my meditations to calm my mind and gain focus and it helped tremendously. What helped even more is not making it a ritual but just doing it. at any point in time, I love the ability to bring awareness to my breathing and the present moment. Many times I put my tongue at fire point and it grounds me. People have to find their base or what works for them to gain focus and clarity and it could… Read more »
Kathy
Kathy
5 years 6 months ago

Funny…being unrushed and calm seem to be my best attributes. My family passes it off as being uncaring and blase but, in reality, I am simply uninterested in drama. It is not in me to be mentally/technologically stimulated 24/7 – I can relax, read, jog, walk the dogs, whatever, without worrying if I’ve missed a text or an email. Meditation I’ve never tried, but sounds glorious!

Renee
Renee
5 years 6 months ago

Me too! My former boss initially thought I didn’t have everything under control because I was “too calm” when there was a crisis. She eventually came to trust me, though! 😉

Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather

Great post! I know I’ve been a bit too scattered at times, but usually when I feel that way I just make a list and go on with it. Keeps me focused.

Classic
Classic
5 years 6 months ago

Oh, yes. I have been taking the time to meditate again lately and it makes a world of difference. I don’t get as irritated with others and I feel less stressed out when I am consistent with my meditation. Very good for getting Cortisol in line.

Kelda
5 years 6 months ago
I’m just reading Alan Watts Tao: The Watercourse Way (1975) … three quotes really struck me and link with today’s post: Thirty spokes unite at the wheel’s hub; It is the centre hole that makes it useful. Shape clay into a vessel; It is the space within that makes it useful. Cut out doors and windows for a room; It is the holes which make it useful. Therefore profit comes from what is there; Usefulness from what is not there. Lao-tzu And (As I) sit quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes and grass grows of itself. A Zen saying – Ch’an… Read more »
Kethry
Kethry
5 years 6 months ago

I’m to the point where I HAVE to meditate at least an hour every day. You don’t want to see me on the rare occasion I don’t get my meditation done first thing in the morning!

Meditation is what has kept me sane when my life gets truly crazy. Even when it isn’t, that’s the one thing that doesn’t change in my life. I get up in the morning and go meditate. Then the rest of my day can start.

RDunn
RDunn
5 years 6 months ago

Sorry, can’t stay focused long enough to finish the article.

juliemama
juliemama
5 years 6 months ago

Timely, my 7 yr old is having trouble in school, they are suggesting ADD and meds. We are going through evaluations now. My issue is we do not have these problems at home.
She is an active, cheerful, bright child..who has always been easily distracted. She is now in a class with 30 kids and it sounds like a circus. No kidding she is not focused. We have a very mellow, easygoing, yet structured homelife..this has worked for her. Clear expectations and direction.
3 hr psychological evaluation tomorrow.Yay.

Ulla Lauridsen
Ulla Lauridsen
5 years 6 months ago

Homeschool, if you can. It’s great.

AdamOfBondi
AdamOfBondi
5 years 6 months ago

Google “gut and psychology syndrome” this may help your child. I personally would never give my child meds for an issue that most likely originates from an imbalance of bacteria in the gut. A

Cecilia
5 years 6 months ago

I agree with Ulla. Your home-lifestyle sounds great for homeschooling (and it’s easy if you let it be) AND don’t let your little girl become a victim of the psycho system!

Peggy
5 years 6 months ago
It’s always great to be reminded to calm down, focus, and be mindful. No matter who we are, modern life sometimes gets complicated and fast, and the next thing we know we’ve gotten picked up in the wave of distractions and excitement. I was in a serious mountain biking accident about 6 months ago and suffered a pretty bad head injury. Recovery was slow and scary but eventually I made it through with all my memories in tact. But I found that in many ways I was different in the coming months. I was irritable and scattered. You never know… Read more »
Grant
Grant
5 years 6 months ago

#1 way to get more free time, reduce stress, and increase focus: overthrow your rights-violating, energy and money-sucking government and establish a rights-protecting government in it’s place.

Jenny
Jenny
5 years 6 months ago

I’m sure all those people in the middle east are stress free now.

Timothy
5 years 6 months ago

If they ever managed the second part of Grant’s recommendation, perhaps they would be. I wouldn’t hold my breath, for them or for us.

But if Americans ever reclaimed their health by embracing primal methods, perhaps they’d reconsider other aspects of conventional wisdom as well.

Baby steps…

Robyn
Robyn
5 years 6 months ago
I could not have read this at a more perfect time. My schedule has been becoming more and more packed, and my mind is becoming more and more cluttered. I barely have time to stand for more than five minutes in the shower (or so it seems). I can’t even talk to people without having several different trains of thought going through my mind at the same time. I’ve never done meditation, but I feel like it’s definitely something that I want to integrate into my life. Does anyone have any tips on getting started? I’d love to know!
flargle
flargle
5 years 6 months ago
Peggy
5 years 6 months ago

Yoga classes are accessible and really helpful for getting centered. You can use the yoga class as your time for meditation.

Dennis
Dennis
5 years 6 months ago

Logan over at wildmovement.com just wrote an article very similar.

Exercise, meditation, and simplification!

Pookie
5 years 6 months ago

I refuse to get an iPhone or equivalent. All my friends that have these devices are constantly glued to them. I have an old cell phone that I keep on silent most of the day.

Emily
5 years 6 months ago

TOTALLY agree. I have friends who are constantly on their iPhones at dinner, at the movies, even just during conversation. It is highly irritating.

shannon
shannon
5 years 6 months ago

I have what I call a Dumb Phone. All it does is make phone calls. I love it.

Alykhan
5 years 6 months ago

Mark,

Excellent post. I’ve never been a big fan of multi-tasking. I find that when I focus 100% on one task, I am more productive. I also really value my down-time where I’m doing nothing at all and just relaxing. It’s important to have a good balance between these two states.

Alykhan

Ulla Lauridsen
Ulla Lauridsen
5 years 6 months ago

I was like that until I read David Allens book Getting Things Done. It’s great. You don’t actually have to do the whole system as long as you make sure every commitment, as he says, is on an appropriate list so you just know you don’t have to remember it.

shannon
shannon
5 years 6 months ago

I like GTD too. I use a software called Things to organize my lists. It’s easy to see when you have too many projects and thus you can get rid of some of them.

Mark Anderson
5 years 6 months ago

I’ve read The Year of Living Biblically too, good book! I’ll check out the Experiment next!

I definately feel the frazzle of modern life. I have to conciously remind myself to slow down. I find that spending time with my kids helps with this, because they grow up so fast. They help me to be in the moment, because I want to truly be there with them … while they still want a parent around! 🙂

AB Smith
5 years 6 months ago
Busy minds – great subject! I first noticed my mental multi-tasking problem when my kids were born. I literally could not think anytime my children would cry or loudly fuss. It’s like my brain would shut down and I could hear nothing else but the crying and everyone else was on mute. Their lips were moving at me but no sound was coming out until I settled my kid. Now it’s the same with most background noise. Don’t try and have a meaningful conversation with me while the tv or radio is on,…and noisy crowds,…forget it,…i shut down My son… Read more »
Ben
5 years 6 months ago

Great article Mark! I use a similar example of the “grocery list” in my Tai Chi classes. All the students in class laugh when I talk about it because they can all relate to it. Be in the moment!

Dawn
Dawn
5 years 6 months ago

Great post! I have noticed that when I “single task,” I am much more productive, happier, less stressed, and generally the end product is better. Single tasking is not always possible, but I try. I am a big fan of the Zen Habits blog and it’s got great articles about single tasking, focus, getting things done, and more. (Incidentally Zen Habits is how I found MDA through a guest post by Mark at one time).

Jeremiah
Jeremiah
5 years 6 months ago

I just started meditating, although not every day yet. Any quiet time is good. Reading, taking cold baths for the health benefits and the fact that it can help take your mind off of many a distractions..I need to put my phone down and not check it so much 🙂

Newt
Newt
5 years 6 months ago
I live in North Alabama, which was just thoroughly pummeled by a series of horrible tornadoes. I (and my loved ones) am fine, as is my property. But I went without power for 6 days. And pretty much loved every minute of it. I didn’t really venture out much the whole time. I stayed home and did work around my house (which was a fixer-upper when I bought it, so it needed it). I grilled or ate canned food. I actually met my neighbors for real, and we all chatted and shared provisions. I’m glad to be able to work… Read more »
shannon
shannon
5 years 6 months ago

I like falling asleep right around dark too.

Alex
Alex
5 years 6 months ago
Yoga is my meditation. If you are able to find a legit yoga class you will find that the practice is an excellent physical workout and also incredible for your mental and emotional health. Yoga is the practice of breath, sensation, and being present. As soon as you start class the to do list gets put aside and you are able to listen and pay attention to your body rather than letting your mind take over. Some classes even incorporate meditation. However you do it. I think it is crucial to take time, daily, to focus on feeling, breathing, listening,… Read more »
JWestfall
5 years 6 months ago

Spot on (and now I sit here, totally distracted by reading this AND the comments that followed because I checked my email)…

One of my biggest struggles/pet peeves and strongly believe is one of our biggest societal downfalls. We are becoming an isolationist society with all of our “social” mediums that are anything BUT social.

I guess thats why I’m here…
~j

jo
jo
5 years 6 months ago

Well said Mark! 🙂 xoxjoabbie

Katia Saenz
Katia Saenz
5 years 6 months ago

I use mindful breathing through out the day. I use deep breathing and centering, with situations that in the past would cause anxiety, anger and frustration. For example, miscommunication with partner, long lines, driving, things I cannot control. I also do self calming during blood donations and social settings. It has lowered my blood pressure, helped me be a more compassionate and patient person. BTW, 1 month doing Paleo and reading Mark’s Daily Apple is the highlight of my day, making time for myself as I process all the valuable info. Thanks.

Gina
5 years 6 months ago

Bravo!
I just came back from teaching a group of women with Eating Disorders what mindful meditation is and how we can use our meals as practice.
I feel blessed to have been introduced to meditation oh sooooo long ago, it has actually saved my life!

Mahalo for sharing your wisdon Mark!

Evan Geiger
Evan Geiger
5 years 6 months ago

With school really ramping up this month, this post really helps.

Amelia
Amelia
5 years 6 months ago

I paint/draw ect to blank my mind- as doing art you use a different part of your brain leaving the rest to chill.. Its very theraputic..

Also gardening- altho it tends to be more labour intensive..

jgirl
5 years 6 months ago

very nice post Mark. thank you!

Carolyn in Texas
Carolyn in Texas
5 years 6 months ago

How did you know we have a Netflix movie lying on our coffee table that’s been there for THREE weeks?!

Jason Martin
5 years 6 months ago
Awesome article Mark! This is so very true, and never more needed than in this day and age. Cavemen had a lot less distractions to deal with, and could live in the present moment without as much thinking distorting their experience. Meditation is a great way to observe the inner workings of your mind and to return to the source from which you are – and those benefits last after the meditation is over. I like to focus on waking meditation, or mindfulness. Or put another way, Paying attention to the paying of attention, constantly. Mindfulness allows for a mind… Read more »
RayDawg
RayDawg
5 years 6 months ago

BTW If you’re on a Mac and use dashboard, there’s an awesome widget called dlooch that you can use with headphones whilst meditating:

http://music.columbia.edu/~brad/dlooch/

It randomly generates endless newagey-synth like music.

Works wonders with noise canceling headphones.

wpDiscuz