Focus is the skill of the future

In an age where everything is abundant and colorful noise presses in from all sides, what’s scarce is scarcity. Silence, clarity, focus. If there is an economy of attention, then focus is its currency.

They should teach college classes on focus. The lab would occur on meditation cushions. I’ve heard stories about how, during exams, roommates have “uninstall ceremonies,” where they witness each other removing addictive computer games from their hard drives. That’s a terrific response to a modern problem, a spontaneous ritual that creates intentional space where there was clutter. Whoever can successfully cultivate focus will command a high price.

I came across this nifty review of a book on this very topic: Focus by Leo Babauta. The review is nifty because it comes with this handy mind map that summarizes the book. There, I’ve saved you the price of the book.

On a related topic, I love this video on procrastination. It’s actually a teaser for another book: You Are Not So Smart.

Key takeaway: you’re not one person. You’re many people joined by a calendar. You From Yesterday is a bum who should’ve gone to the gym. But he didn’t. He played a computer game until 3 AM. Not only that, he kept you up half the night. Asshole. But for some reason, some strange reason, you have confidence that You From Tomorrow will do the right thing. Here’s the thing: You have to realize that these guys are related. You From Tomorrow is a bum too. Why do you think he’s going to help you? He’s as bad as You From Yesterday. It’s too late to do anything about You From Yesterday. The cruel part is he doesn’t even have to live with his bad decisions. He blithely hands them to you. Even now he’s still playing that damn computer game. The good news is that it’s not too late to help that feckless layabout, You From Tomorrow. He’s been hanging out with a bad crowd. Take pity on him! For instance, you know the poor guy is wretched when he doesn’t get enough sleep. There’s one nice thing you can do: go to sleep early. Keep in mind how little willpower he has, and set him up for success wherever possible. Limit his options. Take away his computer games.

He’ll hate you at first, but eventually he’ll thank you. And over time you might realize that idiot from yesterday isn’t so bad either.

2 thoughts on “Focus is the skill of the future”

  1. Seinfeld: I never get enough sleep. I stay up late at night, cause I’m Night Guy. Night Guy wants to stay up late. ‘What about getting up after five hours sleep?’, oh that’s Morning Guy’s problem. That’s not my problem, I’m Night Guy. I stay up as late as I want. So you get up in the morning, you’re ….., you’re exhausted, groggy, oooh I hate that Night Guy! See, Night Guy always screws Morning Guy. There’s nothing Morning Guy can do. The only thing Morning Guy can do is try and oversleep often enough so that Day Guy looses his job and Night Guy has no money to go out anymore.

  2. Thanks for looking up the reference. I thought about that monologue when I saw the Procrastination video. I liked how the video flipped it into an active process: Night Guy can actually steer the behavior of Morning Guy, albeit weakly.

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