, , , , , , , , , ,

Creating an environment that fosters “focus” begins with the family.

“As parents, we all want to raise kids who are smart and focused, especially in a world where digital distraction seems to be inescapable,” writes Nir Eyal, instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

He claims that even tech titans like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have had strategies for limiting their children’s screen time.  Eyal believes they knew that in the future, there will be two kinds of people in the world: Those who let their attention and lives be controlled and coerced by others – and those who proudly call themselves “indistractable.”

Number One Skill for the 21st Century:

In his CNBC article he exhorts,

Becoming indistractable is the most important skill for the 21st century — and it’s one that many parents fail to teach their kids.

Prevent distraction with “Effort Pacts”

Eyal describes the “effort pacts” his 10 year old daughter has entered into.  She is still in charge of her screen time, but…

“She’s made some adjustments to her self-imposed guidelines as she’s grown, such as trading daily episodes for a weekend movie night…

The important thing is that these are her rules, not ours, and that she’s in charge of enforcing them. Best of all, when her time is up, it’s not her dad who has to be the bad guy; it’s her device telling her she’s had enough.

Without realizing it, she entered into an “effort pact,” a kind of pre-commitment that involves increasing the amount of effort required to perform an undesirable action. This type of pre-commitment can help us become indistractable.” 

It’s about Focus

Consider how you’ve learned to be indistractable (assuming you that have). What did it take; what skills did you learn; what did you have to unlearn?  How did you learn to get focus… or is this what you struggle to gain?

Sarah Bessey, prolific writer/blogger spoke about best practices for finding time to write. She noted that she “structured her life to avoid energy-sucking stress” by having no notifications on her mobile devices or computer:

“I can’t concentrate or even live my life with a constant pinging. I’ll lose my ability to focus and to be present which informs my work. That’s a small example but there are many others – think about what sucks your energy, big and small, and look for ways to manage that proactively. We’re not as powerless as we think.”

Probably the easiest step is to identify the distractions and eliminate them. As Bessey affirms, “we’re not as powerless as we think”, and we can take small steps to alter the environment (De-weaponizing our Space from Distraction).

Removing and Replacing Practices

Removing distractions is only one (important) part to gaining focus. The other thing we can do is to replace unhelpful patterns with new practices that support becoming indistractable

To the extent that I have focus is the fruit of practicing the ancient art of biblical meditation: learning to memorize scripture, chew it over, pray it through, and contemplate what it means to me, the world, and the One who made me for Himself. This becomes the substance of a worshipful response and daily relationality with God.

During my devotional times, on a walk, waiting at weddings or funerals, in a long lineup, or in the waiting room, I have learned to take as many opportunities as I can to meditate on scripture. Notice the recurrent theme of “waiting.” Moments of waiting are great opportunities to meditate on scripture and to direct your focus on the One who is life giving.

Biblical meditation is not to merely accumulate Bible knowledge – it is to inform a relational prayer life, it is to gain the mind of the Creator, and it is to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. The happy side effect of this spiritual practice is the ability to gain focus – to be indistractable from the worries and demands of life. As the Psalmist sings,

Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the Lordand who meditates on His word day and night.

How have you learned to be Indistractable?

For more see “Digital Sabbatical“.