Attention + Time = Progress
I’ve mentioned this formula in a couple of different places, in a couple of different ways. This formula occurred to me almost a year ago while I was journaling.
Everyone is always talking about time, in fact the main cornerstone of most productivity material out there is on the management and better use of your time.
It’s all about getting more done, more efficiently.
The other half of that equation though is mostly ignored.
How Attention Affects Time
In determining quality of time, you have to consider what you’re paying attention to, not how much you got done.
In short, being more efficient at doing to the wrong things isn’t progress.
As an example for the good majority of my young life I spent a lot of time playing video games. This is what I had considered “Quality Time”, and time paying attention to video games was time that I was happy.
However, excessive gaming is a negative sum game. When overdone the value it creates is far outweighed by its detriments.
With the amount of time and focus spent playing games instead of my finances, relationships, work, or future, my life steadily declined.
Once I reversed this, my quality of life has been on a steady increase, and I’m every day excited about what the future will bring.
We all have the same 24 hours each day, but it’s what we pay focus on during those hours that determine the quality of our lives.
What To Pay Attention To
For me, big progress was made by simply removing what was taking me off course. Namely how much time I was spending paying attention to entertainment technology.
Then, I started paying attention to bigger picture things.
Simply paying attention to these things lead to ideas, ideas lead to plans, plans lead to action, action lead to rewards.
For you, take account of not necessarily how much time you spend on things, but what you’re paying attention to. Are you paying attention to things that grow you or debilitate you?
As an example, my goal is not only to grow myself but others as well, so I’m paying my undivided attention to this post to help people such as yourself out in valuing your attention.
Defending Your Attention
One of the major dangers of the modern world is the demands for our attention.
This is discussed in detail in The Four Agreements, but in short we are trained to give away our attention, along with our time, with no thought on its true value.
As we grow older, we continue freely giving it away.
This is the fundamental wisdom in learning how to say “No”. When you say no you are protecting your attention and your time.
Specifically however, there are new threats to our attention.
Studies have found that adults spend about 8.5 hours per day watching screens. Let’s be gracious and say that 75% of the time is spent doing productive, life enriching things. That means that on average 2.125 hours each day are spent doing things that don’t contribute to life, and are likely negative-sum time.
How much time is that per year? 775.625 hours, that’s 32.31 days.
Running on some assumptions here, but let’s let sink in that the average person spends a whole month each year paying attention to things that either do nothing for them, or actually makes their lives worse.
Using 80/20 thinking, we can assume that “80% of the destructive time is from 20% of what you’re paying attention to”.
That said, there’s likely one thing that you can subtract from your life that can make a huge difference.
For me it was regular exposure to internet and video games. What could it be for you?
Take Your Attention Back
Right now, you’re paying attention to my blog post.
Once you’re done reading it, you will likely turn your attention to something else. Like a book, a project, work, or even your journal.
In short though, this is one of the deep values of a journal. It gives you space to pay attention to yourself. Unlike a screen where everything you do is tracked and sold to the highest bidder and advertisements are always seeking to rob your attention from you, your journal is for you and you alone.
No tech company, no matter how successful and powerful, can try to rob your attention in the form of notifications or disruptive advertising.
Get your attention focused on you, you’ll be shocked what it will bring.
Thanks for reading, take care!