3 Strikes and You’re In!

When a baseball player strikes out, they can’t wait to get another at-bat.

When we strike out at something, we often get disappointed, discouraged and disillusioned.

No matter how bad, or unfair or frustrating, let’s be just as eager as the hitter for the next chance to do better.

4 Hours a Day on Autopilot

That’s a decade of the average person’s life following the same routines and rituals according to a study.

64% say their routines hardly change.

79% say they are stuck in a rut and it keeps them from achieving their goals.

The most common things they’d like to do:  learning a new skill, traveling and starting a new career.

Coming off autopilot means more focus and less boredom.

How?

Do one thing differently focused 100% in the present – the more we get used to trying, the better it works.

Every time I start a new semester, I try to do something different in every session – and it always brings joy just knowing I’m constantly doing something a different way.

And sometimes, it’s a revelation.

Healthy Breaks

I’m writing this after sitting for several hours at my desk and on my laptop – bad professor!

Thus, my focus – healthy breaks.

From work during the day.

From routines even necessary ones (must we always walk the same route or take the same roads).

From our regular diet so as to try new things.

My parents were right, I should have been a doctor because what I’m about to say is that the glucose in our brain is affected by hyper-long concentration – for doing the same things over and over.

Breaks foster rest and rest restores the brain.

Now I’m closing my laptop and going outside – join me?

Multitasking Help

I think we all know this but don’t want to say it aloud – multitasking doesn’t work.

It feeds whatever happens in the brain that makes us more intense and anxious.

It rewards us for not focusing and leads us to look for even more ways to become distracted.

After letting our digital devices define how we live, there is an awakening coming not to throw them away – hey, they’re also great additions to life – but to recognize that even if we can multitask, are we willing to keep paying the psychological price for doing so.

Disconnecting

My students surprised me this week when unprompted they complained about a world that is forcing them to lose focus – The popular app TikTok was mentioned – I had to be revived!

And there was great sentiment that they are being played by those who want their business in the attention economy.

It got worse (I mean better) – one student said she deleted her TikTok app a few months ago and has read three books since (the most in years, she says).  Others admitted downplaying their time on the addictive app.

Some thought that their younger siblings were in worse shape and called them “iPad faces” because of parents and schools rushing the use of digital devices.

I came away with the thought that perhaps we’re all being played for fools by people and companies accentuating increasingly short attention spans.

Stressed Out

Look what I found – a modern-day, real-life definition of the ravages of stress:

“We get stressed out now by having somebody yell at us in the office or by making a mistake or by losing a bunch of money. These aren’t problems that our hunter-gatherer ancestors had. They’d get stressed if a lion came to them or a boulder was rolling towards their living quarters. That kind of stress provoked the fight or flight response”.                                                                                            – Daniel Levitin

Anxiety was good in pre-historic days to stay alive, but it is killing us when the same intense responses happen many times a day due to more frequent lesser threats because of the way we chose to live.

Most stress is unnecessary.

When Insulted

When I am verbally attacked, I really have the urge to fire back.

Each time I do, I lose.  Each time I resist, I set up an unexpected victory.

Some people don’t mean to be insulting (and some do).

Others are bullies, let’s face it, the world has bullies of all ages.

If you make it far enough not to get into an insult-match, start asking questions.  Insults are emotional and don’t stand up well to rational questions like “what makes you say that” and “give me some examples”.

An insulting person may not be a friend you want but sometimes you can’t get away from them so standing back and making them explain their emotional tirade even lets them know that it is time to change the subject.

We Don’t Know What We Want

Apple founder Steve Jobs famously said “customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them” when his planning team wanted to research customer needs.

Big companies like Proctor & Gamble spend millions testing consumers and fail more often than succeed – and remember when Coca Cola decided that it was time for New Coke after doing research that was clearly wrong when the product failed.

This is important because in our lives we chase things that we think we may want but cannot know for sure until we get it.

Curiosity, it turns out, may be a better roadmap to our future desires so every day we feed our curiosity, we learn more about what may be important to us.

Thanks for “Phones Off”

That’s what many of my students say – I tell them I need their 100% attention during class and recognize that if they have to check for messages, they can do so by stepping out of the classroom.

Imagine being thanked for asking them to stow their phones (and by stow I mean out of sight because yes, there is research that shows even if a phone that is turned off sits within your sightlines, you will keep checking it no matter whether that it is off).

Learning to live with technology is where most of us are right now – asking for undivided attention is not a punishment — it can be a reward.

Less Time, More Focus

It doesn’t take long to discover that spending more time with people in our lives that we may be neglecting is not the short answer.

What people crave is more focus not necessarily more time – the world is busy, life is hectic, almost everyone has the same problem of needing more time.

Activities and conversations that are so focused not even a mobile device can interrupt it.

People feel guilty when they know they are struggling to spend more time with those who matter in their lives but less time and more focus is where the sweet spot is.