“Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.” — Jim Rohn
As the world continues to advance and technology becomes a bigger and bigger part of our lives, it is easier than ever to idly distract yourself and multitask. Maybe you’re writing an email and reading the news at the same time, or you could be talking on the phone and watching a video online. But whatever the case may be, the point is that in today’s world, 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 doing one thing at a time. That sounds like a no-brainer, but there are some people who insist that they are good at multitasking and assure you that they can concentrate fully on everything they are doing at once. Unfortunately, this kind of mindset can cause some issues. 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. That is, if you put yourself into that situation in the first place. I don’t want to turn this into an anti texting and driving PSA, but avoiding a possible accident is as simple as waiting a few minutes so that you can give driving your full and undivided attention.
Part of the issue with everybody having cell phones in their pockets or purses wherever they go is that they provide 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! Let me ask you a question. 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 some of us are guilty of it ourselves.
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 phone. It entertains you, it gives you directions when you’re lost, it allows you to contact anyone at any time… It really is a personal computer that you can carry around everywhere. But as useful as the modern cell phone is, it also detracts a lot 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.
My advice to you, then, is to try and give 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 has to begin from somewhere, and 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.