3 things I hope you take away from my new book, Hyperfocus

In exactly one week, my next book, Hyperfocus lands in bookstores everywhere in the U.S., U.K., and Canada! In celebration of that news, I wanted to share with you three big takeaways I’ll expand on over the book’s 200-some pages.

In case you missed it: Hyperfocus is a practical guide for managing your attention—the most powerful resource you have to become more creative, get stuff done, and live a meaningful life. If you’re like me, your attention has never been so overwhelmed. Many of us recognize that our brains struggle to multitask. Despite this, we feel compelled to multitask anyway while we fill each moment of our lives to the brim with mindless distraction. Hyperfocus is an antidote to living in this world of distraction and constant stimulation. This book gives you an arsenal of tools so you can reclaim your attention from the world around you.

Here are three takeaways I hope you’ll get from it!

1. Our attention is fascinating

I pored over hundreds of studies around how we focus when writing Hyperfocus. A few random stats and tidbits you’ll discover as you read:

  • Our mind wanders the most when we’re stressed, bored, dealing with significant personal issues, working in a chaotic environment, and when we have some attention to spare (such as when doing a boring or monotonous task).
  • We distract ourselves 64 percent more often in an open office environment, and we’re interrupted by others more often in these environments as well. Studies show that people interrupt us more strategically, however—like when we stand up after finishing a conference call.
  • Our work takes around 50 percent longer when we continuously switch between tasks, compared to when doing one task from start to completion.
  • We have as much as 60% less attention to give to the world around us when we work through a sleep deficit, or when we need a break.
  • The more impulsive you are, the more stressed you become by blocking distractions. If you have little self-control, indulging in the odd distraction break helps. (Impulsiveness is also the character trait most highly correlated with procrastination.)
  • We switch between computer applications 566 times during the average workday, and check our email 88 times—11 times every hour.

2. There are countless things you can do right now to better manage your attention

The research shows we’re distracted a lot. Luckily, it also suggests there are dozens of strategies we can adopt to focus more deeply. In Hyperfocus, you’ll learn about countless focus strategies—all backed by research—including:

  • Becoming aware of all that is vying for your attention;
  • The four steps to enter a “hyperfocused” state;
  • How making your work harder can help you to focus more deeply;
  • Having a drink or two in order to scatter your attention and become more creative;
  • Figuring out which distractions in your work and life are worth taming;
  • Consuming caffeine the right way in order to boost your focus;
  • How to create a distraction-free mode in which to work.

These ideas—and the dozens more covered in the book—will let you to focus deeper and more clearly each day.

3. Distractions are costly—but in ways you don’t expect

One of the most fascinating parts of writing Hyperfocus was digging deep and connecting the web of research looking at the toll distractions take on our lives. We work in autopilot mode when we don’t deliberately manage our attention, getting hooked in by whatever is immediate and convenient, like our smartphone, email notifications on our computer, or the TV behind our partner at the pub.

Distractions cost us valuable productivity minutes, of course—on average, we switch tasks every 40 seconds when we work in front of a computer. And when interrupted completely, it takes us more than 20 minutes to get back on track. But the true cost of distraction runs deeper than productivity alone.

We remember less when we’re immersed in distraction, and our lives feel less meaningful as a result. When our attention is divided, our brain processes the world around us differently than when we simply focus on what’s meaningful and productive. We also become less creative when we’re continually distracted, since we have less attentional space to think and reflect. When added up, we devote years of our lives tending to distractions. The antidote to living in a world of distraction is simple: deliberately managing your attention.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of Hyperfocus. I almost feel the need to apologize for mentioning it so often—but at the same time, it’s truly a book that I cannot wait to get out into the world. If you’re interested, here are links to order the book so you can join the reading party on launch day!

 

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