“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying ‘no’ to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1000 things.” – Steve Jobs
I am no stranger to distraction. Every day I have around 10-30 tabs of things I want to read or check out and each of them relate to different topics or projects. For my RSS feeds, they’ll sometimes pile up to 500 unread articles that relate to technology, philosophy, Christianity, and politics. In a way, this is beneficial because I am practically never bored. On the other hand, I jump between tasks way too easily. One day I’ll be reading a book and then I’ll stop halfway and start chatting with people or surf the web. This kind of back and forth activity is not particularly productive, instead it just takes away from the important things that should take priority in our lives. What makes this difficult (at least for me) is how these priorities all have some intrinsic value to them. Philosophy, for example, is beneficial to a proper understanding of reality and how we ought to be in it. Chatting, on the other hand, provides an opportunity to serve others and helps build important friendships. Nevertheless, the problem I have are disordered priorities as the things I ought to do are the things that I do less of and the things I do not need to do are the things I do more of.
It’s always important to make sure that your time and resources are focused toward something worthwhile. If you have trouble determining what should take priority, perhaps you should start with asking yourself whether you’d be doing those things if you found out you only had one month to live. If everyone lived every day as if it was their last, we’d be living to make the most out of everything we had. However, we should be careful not to apply that too literally or else we’d all be buying coffins. In general though, that question does help us realize where our desires are. Once you’ve determined that, it’s time to start focusing on the things that need more time and giving less time to other things. Like Steve Jobs said, we should begin with a “no” to all of the things we could do and carefully choose what you do do. If you’re like me and get distracted easily, there are applications out there that can restrict what you do on the computer to help out. This may be easier said than done but the important thing is that you keep trying. Don’t give up. The more times you say “no”, the easier it is to focus on the things that you need to. Don’t expect a miracle, this takes discipline. Miracles only make you lazier but discipline makes you stronger.
What things do you spend most of your time in?