pencilsIn the process of building a life we love, we may find ourselves challenged by time and attention. We live in a world of “always on” distraction. We have a virtually unlimited stream of news and entertainment available to us. Continuous social media updates, online games, news feeds and a 24-hour news cycle, distractions are a constant. With the multitude of distractions available to us, the ability to be productive is even more critical.

Fortunately, there are a variety of solutions and resources available. The first, and most direct way, is to disconnect from the internet. By going offline, it will increase your awareness of how much of your time has been diverted to online activities. It will also increase the space for actual creative work. If turning off the internet is not an option, there are alternatives.

One effective way to minimize distraction is to use a timer for social media sites and be more aware of how much time is spent. A free online timer,, works well for any website. Another way to minimize distraction is to set aside specific times of the day to respond to email or to check social media updates. This will help to put you more in control of your time and attention.
In addition to these first steps, an effective way to increase focus and attention is to begin a daily meditation practice. Even just 10-mins in the morning can bring tremendously positive impact on the rest of the day. Increased energy, focus, and creativity are all noticeable when practiced consistently. A simple way to meditate is to sit in comfortable position with eyes closed and maintain awareness on the breath. Thorin Klosowski, contributor to Lifehacker, observes “mindful meditation, despite it’s awkward name, is really just about training your brain to concentrate and focus better.”

To further support productivity, the practice of the “Pomodoro Technique”® developed by author and innovator, Francesco Cirillo. He named the system “pomodoro” after a tomato-shaped kitchen timer used to track his college work. The technique has gained popularity and recognition as an effective way to complete projects, both large and small. With this system, work sessions are defined by 25-minute blocks, separated by a 5-min break. Several smartphone apps are available that automate this process.

Pomodoros can be combined with music designed to increase focus and super-charge work sessions. There are some free services to try as well as a excellent subscription site called “Focus@Will” which has several music channels to choose from, including Alpha Chill, Focus Spa, and Uptempo, all dedicated to creating a work environment that enhances focus and concentration.

I recommend experimenting with these techniques to find which ones work best for you. You may find you gain the leverage needed to build and maintain a life you love.

“Don’t quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can’t see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It’s the one that makes the sweetest sound. ” – Simon Sinek

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