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There’s a dizzying array of things that compete for our attention in the modern world.
Our devices go off every few seconds with email notifications, news updates, Facebook comments, tweet mentions, etc.
We are bombarded with thousands of advertisements every day.
We are filled with internal conflicts about where to focus our attention.
How much time should you spend with the kids versus working after hours? Which work projects should you focus on?
Which social platform should you spend time on?
What products should you buy?
Your attention is a scarce and precious resource. That’s why marketers will do whatever it takes to get as much of it as possible.
Most of us, on the other hand, hardly realize the value of our attention.
In attempting to multitask and do it all, we devalue this resource. Instead of accomplishing more, we feel like we’re always catching up. We feel burnt out, tired, and overwhelmed.
The key to overcoming this negative trend is to realize that your attention is too precious to be deployed haphazardly. In order to experience greater well-being and increased productivity, you must be willing to focus your attention on fewer and more meaningful pursuits.
How can you do this?
1. Attend to your FOMO
FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out has become a modern epidemic. This is the ever-present fear that there’s something better around the corner that you’re currently not a part of.
If you find yourself toggling between multiple open browsers to mindlessly surf the internet, if you check email three times a minute, and if you’re constantly looking at your Twitter feed, chances are you suffer from FOMO.
If you allow yourself to succumb to FOMO, you may find it nearly impossible to focus on any one thing for longer than a few minutes.
To reduce the effects of FOMO, begin attending to it.
What does that mean?
Focusing your attention on your fears as they come up.
Learn to just notice them, without judging them or reacting to them. Ask yourself this question, “Is your limited attention worth wasting on these endless rabbit trails?”
2. Attend to your boredom
Attending to your FOMO is a powerful first step in reducing your stress. However, we must go one level deeper.
The reason why FOMO has so much power over us is that we have another fear that’s even more powerful…our fear of boredom.
In fact, studies have shown that some people would rather administer painful shocks to themselves than sit for as little as six minutes, alone with own thoughts.
Doubt these findings? Try doing nothing for two minutes. Chances are that it will be harder than you think.
We’re constantly on the move to fend off boredom. But what if you could see boredom, not as something to avoid, but as something to actively seek out? If you’re actively working to reduce distraction and become more focused, you’ll inevitably experience boredom. The greater your boredom, the more successful your efforts are.
And the more you focus, the closer you are to achieving your desired breakthrough.
3. A quick way to reduce your stress
Limit your choices.
In a world of endless choices, you may think that you have no power over the many distractions tugging at you.
Sometimes, even choosing what to watch on Netflix can feel as daunting as choosing a car to buy.
But if you keep in mind the types of shows you are most interested in watching, you’ll drastically reduce your options, which will reduce your stress.
If you decide to just consume cable news, you’ll likely be fed a steady diet of fear-mongering and sensationalism.
This is guaranteed to raise your blood pressure. Or you can seek out positive stories guaranteed to warm your heart and make you smile.
To be more discerning about what you choose to focus on, you must be willing to say no to other good options.
You must be willing to limit your choices in order to achieve the outcome you want…less stress and more progress.
What say you, are you ready to reduce your stress?
If you have any other ideas to add, please share them in the comments below. Maybe if we all came together to support one another in reducing stress our entire planet would be better off!