Has Social Media Ruined Our Focus and Ability to Live in The Moment?

by Matthew O'Brien on January 19, 2013

photo by Andrew Kalat on Flickr photo by Andrew Kalat on Flickr


Answer this question, “when was the last time you had 100% focus on what you were doing?” Do you remember when you were a kid and the only thing that you were focusing on was having fun on the playground, playing with your friends and experiencing new things that got you caught up in the moment? Our ability to dedicate 100% of our focus to what we are doing seems to diminish as we get older. A good reason for this is because we carry a lot more responsibilities as adults verses when we were kids.

As business professionals, family members, managers of people, etc. we try to leverage technology so that we can have a better quality of live. But is this preventing us from keeping our focus on the real task at hand? Email was the first culprit that interrupted our personal lives with business activities. Then came the cell phone and with it instant messaging, text messaging and social media that bombards our daily lives at any moment possible.

We place so much importance on these inbound communications that we are willing to jeopardize the health and safety of ourselves and those around us to view a text message (especially when driving a car). We often think nothing of checking our phones when we are having dinner with friends or family, are in business meetings or just hanging out at home having a conversation with our significant other. When you look at how technology comes crashing down on us, you have to wonder how it is possibly that our quality of life is going to get better before it gets worse with this type of behavior.

So how do we break this vicious cycle of constantly being bombarded by communications that our brains have become accustomed to (addicted to)?

It gets back to focus…losing yourself in the moment and filtering out all other forms of communication so that you can relish the moment. We used to be able to do this by reading book. But now, we are reading books on her cell phones, iPad, Kindles, etc. and are no longer are absorbed into doing one activity because now we are thinking about sharing these nuggets of wisdom with your social network.

Even though I am in the business of social media marketing, I often wonder if social media is the newest form of peer pressure when you don’t have ultimate focus and purpose for your activity, but still do it anyway. We certainly have been advised by ‘social media experts’ that social media will help grow your business and essentially bring in new opportunities. But there are so many social networks and so many ways to participate through new technology that sensory overload happens. I have to admit that in 2012, I became a little overwhelmed and less participatory with my social media activities. Can you relate? Just as I am dictating this blog post with my phone, I had to resist the temptation viewing an email and a text communication that was come in while doing this blog post.

How do we make technology our friend for being more productive in our daily lives?

  1. Simplify – Stop doing the things that are not contributing to better health for our body and mind. Learn how to tune out the distractions and get caught up in the task or activity at hand.
  2. Be more considerate of others – stop doing things like texting and looking at your emails while driving or while engaged in a conversation. You are essentially telling the world that nobody is more important than you and you could give a s*^# what this does and how it impacts our lives and those around us.
  3. Be in the moment – Learn how to do one thing as best as possible and expand from there. Being a jack of all trades and master of none by being good at multitask two or three things at the same time it’s not a sustainable model.
  4. Find a cause that you’re passionate about and get active – Give your time, talent and resources towards helping in our community locally, nationally or internationally and it will bring more benefit to you than the lives of those you are helping. Talk about a WIN/WIN!.
  5. Get out of your comfort zone – We have formed bubbles around our lives with the activities that we do on a day to day basis. As it was published in a good read, there is “Danger in the Comfort Zone“. Try something new by doing exercise you’ve never done, reach out to someone you met but have not follow up with and see how this makes you feel.

So what does this have to do about social media? It is simple. We often do things because it is what we do day after day but are we really present, mentally, when we’re doing these activities. How many other things are demanding our attention that we choose to focus on versus filter out?

Here some productivity tips that I plan to embrace 2013:

  • Become more proficient with dictation and voice commands for tasks, scheduling meetings, writing blog post, finding destinations and for reaching out to friends and business prospects. If you have a Google Nexus phone and have not explored Google Now, you are missing out on a service that has leapfrogged iPhone’s Siri (another good option). When Google Now was launched, the top people at Apple in charge on new technology development were fired because nothing new had been developed since Steve Jobs passed away. Talk about ‘Danger in The Comfort Zone’!
  • Create a new calendar of activities for the week and throughout the month to include those things that are hard to do and do them first thing in the morning. Momentum is a key component to feeling and being productive.
  • Change your diet. Have you ever noticed that the healthiest looking people are the ones in the healthy places. Go to a Whole Foods store and look around at the people there and you will get the picture. I just finishing a very interesting book called Primal Body, Primal Mind that is quite eye-opening about the foods that we are consuming and the impact they have on our health, mentally and physically.
  • Change your exercise routine. It is the word routine combined with exercise that is preventing you from getting the results you strive towards.
  • Get outside and leave all of your electronic devices behind (well maybe bring a camera/phone but tune off the data stream). We live in a beautiful world but sometimes we stay cooped up inside while beautiful things happens without us.

Back to social media. One way of looking at this blog post and the ideas presented is that these are content opportunities that can potentially bring more passion and conviction to the messages you share with your friends, family and online community. Going through the motions for the sake of going through the motions is transparent, but most importantly, it is not satisfying to you.

I think 2013 is this year to carve out our wedge of satisfaction in life and filter out the distraction that inhibit us from reaching our potential.

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Maximizing Productivity with The Can’t Do List
October 2, 2013 at 5:33 am

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