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  • I believe focus is something that can and must be cultivated.

  • We can learn to focus more deeply, but it requires daily practice and discipline.

  • In this video, I'll share with you the mental tools and practices I use to develop my abilities

  • to focus.

  • Question: how do you 10x your focus?

  • I've personally settled on one answer: eliminate distraction.

  • There are two types of distractions: external and internal.

  • If I'm writing at my desk and I hear voices in the back preventing me from working, that's

  • an external distraction.

  • On the other hand, if I'm struggling between two decisions, that's an internal distraction.

  • At home, do I watch Netflix or do my homework?

  • In my career, do I work as an engineer or a writer?

  • If we're out to eat, do I listen to your words or think about what I'm going to say

  • next?

  • All of these are internal distractions.

  • And I developed two practices for eliminating distractions: memento distractio and memento

  • passio.

  • If you're wondering why I used latin phrases that sound like spells from Harry Potter,

  • it's because I wanted to, as much as I could, connect the practices to their linguistic

  • roots

  • and to another ancient practice: memento mori.

  • I won't waste your time explaining memento mori in this video, but you can look it up

  • in your free time if you're curious.

  • So let's jump right into the practices.

  • The first practice is memento distractio.

  • Memento translates torememberand distractio, which eventually became the word distraction,

  • essentially means to bepulled apart”, “separated”, ordivided”.

  • Imagine that your focus is a beam of light.

  • You direct this light onto an object, your computer for work, for example.

  • An external distraction is something that pulls the light towards itself, like people

  • speaking in the background.

  • There are two simple solutions to this problem.

  • The first is to remove the distraction.

  • Let's say the voice in the background is coming from the TV.

  • You can just shut the TV off obviously, and this removes the obstacle to your focus, the

  • thing that is pulling at your beam of light.

  • The second solution is, if the obstacles is immovable, to remove yourself from the distraction.

  • Let's say the noise is coming from your family talking in the background.

  • Well you can leave your house and go work in a library.

  • All external distractions resolve the same way.

  • Either you remove the source or you remove yourself from the source.

  • So here's the daily practice.

  • Start a list where you keep track of and notice the things that pull your attention away from

  • whatever you're trying to focus on, whether that's conversations, the TV, the computer,

  • your phone, music, or whatever.

  • Write down the things that divide and attract your attention.

  • Then find a way to eliminate these distractions from your workspace or remove yourself from

  • them.

  • Here's an example of a bunch of common problems and solutions.

  • (1) If you get distracted by background noise, either go to a library or some other quiet

  • place, buy ear plugs or headphones, and/or shut off the sources of noise (such as the

  • TV).

  • (2) If you get distracted by your phone, put it on do not disturb or airplane mode, turn

  • off notifications, use accessibility settings to make the screen black and white so that

  • it's less appealing to look at, place it in another room, or give it to a friend or

  • family member while you work.

  • (3) If you get distracted by the internet, use an app like SelfControl to block apps

  • on your computer, or make sure you study in a place where you don't have access to technology.

  • (4) And lastly, if you get distracted by silence, either go to a coffee shop, make a study playlist,

  • or find a study buddy.

  • Memento distractio is a daily practice where you systematically discover the things that

  • pull your attention away from your work and eliminate them.

  • And as your list gets longer and longer, you get better insight into the ideal working

  • environment for yourself.

  • The second practice is memento passio.

  • Again, memento translates torememberand passio, which eventually became the word

  • passion, translates tosufferingandenduring”.

  • Imagine again that your focus is a beam of light, and you direct this light onto your

  • homework.

  • Internally, the homework represents your value of duty.

  • And right now your phone is pulling your attention away from your homework.

  • Internally, the phone represents fun.

  • So your attention is torn between doing your duty or having fun, and this is an internal

  • distraction.

  • Internal distractions are difficult to overcome because they can't be eliminated.

  • One value , either duty or fun, has to end up taking a higher priority over the other.

  • Here's a clearer example.

  • Imagine it's Friday night and Sally is torn between studying for an upcoming final on

  • Monday and going to her best friend's birthday party.

  • She's torn between work and friendship.

  • These values, or priorities, are having a conflict inside of her, and until she resolves

  • the conflict, she'll have trouble focusing.

  • Now there are two options.

  • The first one is that there is no right way to choose which value or priority is higher.

  • If this is true, then it shouldn't matter which one she picks.

  • But most people don't live life this way.

  • The second option is that there is a right way to choose which value or priority should

  • be higher than the other.

  • Whether it's money, friendship, or love, how do we decide which one of our values should

  • be higher than the others?

  • Values acts as a compass, guiding us through life and giving meaning to our world.

  • If we value art, we'll find it meaningful to go to a museum and look at paintings all

  • day.

  • And the more we value art, the higher that value is for us, the more meaningful this

  • experience will be.

  • If we don't value art however, we might find it boring to go to a museum, at least

  • relative to other things we value more and could be doing instead.

  • In other words, if our values and priorities are in the perfect order, this would lead

  • to the most meaningful life we could live.

  • So internal distractions occur when two values are in conflict inside of us, and the way

  • to eliminate this distraction is by placing the values in their correct order, or in other

  • words, prioritizing them correctly.

  • And the second practice, memento passio, which I'll explain now, is a tool meant to help

  • with this ordering process.

  • Now imagine a set of dots.

  • These dots represent the moments of your life, some good and some bad.

  • The final dot represents death, or in latin, mori.

  • And one dot will represent the worst day of your life, and this day we will call the passio.

  • We have to get imaginative with the passio, and imagine the worst, unavoidable sufferings

  • we can for ourselves, physical and psychological.

  • In such a time, with nothing else to help us, the only thing that will likely get us

  • through it is meaning.

  • We would likely need ultimate meaning to get through ultimate suffering.

  • And the idea is, if you can find meaning in the worst potential day of your life, you've

  • correctly structured your values and priorities to maximize the meaning of your life.

  • And so the next time we have two internal values in conflict, we can use memento passio

  • as a tool to help us find the path of greater meaning for us.

  • Which path will be more likely to help us endure future suffering?

  • So in summary, focus must be cultivated.

  • And I've given you two practices that I use to cultivate my focus and eliminate distractions.

  • And I think of both tools like the hammer and chisel which I have to consistently use

  • to sculpt my character.

  • Memento distractio is a daily practice that helps us discover and eliminate external distractions,

  • allowing us to create our ideal work environment.

  • And memento passio helps us resolve internal distractions by giving right order to our

  • values and priorities, helping us discover the path

  • of greatest meaning.

I believe focus is something that can and must be cultivated.

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How to 10x Your Focus

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    Summer posted on 2021/03/12
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