Is the world more distracting? Sometimes it seems that way. With our digital devices buzzing, world events demanding our attention, and more things to entertain us than ever before, it certainly seems harder to focus on what’s really important. And yet, focus is exactly what it takes to get things done and get ahead.
Distraction might appear more available than ever, but it is nothing new. Over 2,000 years ago, Socrates and Aristotle debated the nature of “akrasia,” (pronounced uh-crazy-uh), our tendency to act against our better judgement. To the ancient Greeks, mere mortals were prone to distraction due to our weakness of will. Easy for them to say — Socrates and Aristotle never had to resist binge-watching “Game of Thrones.”
In this Golden Age of distraction, what does it take to focus? How do we do what we must so we can have the lives we really want? Instead of blaming our puny attention spans, we should dig deeper to understand how certain products affect us.
I’ll use my own struggle as an example.
I decided to plot certain products and services on the matrix below. On one axis is the question of whether the product is harmful to my life. On the other, I asked myself whether I could stop using the product or whether I was dependent. With this two-by-two tool, I can begin to classify certain products and decide how to put them in their place. You can do this, too — and you probably should.