The Gift of Attention: Benefits of Focusing Over Multitasking

Now more than ever, it is easier to idly distract yourself and multitask. Maybe you’re writing an email and reading the news at the same time or talking on the phone and watching a video online. Whatever the case may be, in today’s world, focusing and the ability to give your full attention to something is a huge benefit, and often an underappreciated one.

When you try to multitask, you lose the ability to focus on either task as well as you could if you were only focusing on one thing at a time. While some people may assure you that they can concentrate fully on everything they are doing at once, unfortunately, this kind of mindset can cause the following issues.

The Gift of Attention: Benefits of Focusing Over Multitasking

Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.” — Jim Rohn

Potential Accidents

Someone who is overconfident in their ability to multitask might try to use their phone even while driving, and we all know that no matter how skilled you are, some situations cannot be avoided. Preventing a possible accident is as simple as waiting a few minutes to give driving your full and undivided attention.

Even when our physical safety may not be at risk, handling multiple tasks at the same time causes distraction and can lead to mistakes that create further work down the line. This focusing deficit also puts us at risk of emphasizing quantity over quality, increasing stress and ultimately, can lead to burnout. Making sure each project is completed with focus will eliminate the potential for costly mistakes, improving productivity and bringing an overall sense of accomplishment to an organization.

Hindering Creativity

Always having cell phones in pockets or purses provides relief from boredom and possible awkward situations. While this seems great, boredom is an important part of everyone’s life, and some of the best ideas in the world have come from boredom. How do you think sports were first invented? Or for that matter, where did music and art come from? Those things are not necessary by any means, but they certainly take the boredom away.

Embracing boredom can help us concentrate on what’s important and ward off the temptation to drown out our thoughts by multitasking or distracting ourselves. Give your mind time to wander, explore and relax; you never know what fresh ideas may surface when you are focusing on the task at hand and let yourself experiment with diverse ways of thinking.

Not Being Present for Others

How many times have you been sitting at a restaurant with friends or colleagues and in the middle of your conversation, the other person pulls out their cell phone? If it is none, then you have great friends. But even if your friends are great, this still happens more than it should, and I’m sure most of us are guilty of it ourselves.

Being present for your colleagues at work is an important part of creating a successful corporate culture. It does not need to be complicated; focus on small actions that make the people around you feel seen and heard. Show genuine interest in their lives, care about their projects and successes, take an active role in team meetings, and offer support whenever you can. The cumulative effect of these small acts will be significant, promoting an environment of respect, consideration, and understanding that ultimately leads to greater productivity.

Why Do We Choose Distraction?

What drives us to want to temporarily disconnect from the real world to divert our attention to something that matters infinitely less? In my opinion, it’s just a matter of habit. We almost feel naked without our cell phones. It entertains, gives directions when lost, and allows you to contact anyone at any time. But as useful as the modern cell phone is, it also detracts from everyday life. The average person checks their phone upwards of 10 times an hour. That fact right there proves that we are not fully present, because this seemingly compulsive urge is always in the back of your mind, detracting from what is going on right now.

7 Ways to Refocus on the Present Moment

My advice to you is to practice giving whoever it is you are with and whatever it may be you are doing your full attention. It doesn’t matter how boring it is, or how much you wish you were somewhere else, it is simply the respectful thing to do. And even though other people might not do the same for you, respect must begin somewhere. If you are the one to do that, then you can rest easy knowing that you have done something to make the world a better place.