Feeding the pigeon

Back in the day, just like any other kid, I used to love watching TV. It was a treat – Wednesday afternoons and Saturday evenings were sacred screen time.

But gradually, I started to despise it, especially those main channels. The reason? Those relentless ads that just drove me up the wall. Picture this: you’re engrossed in a movie, and every two minutes, bam, another ad disrupts the flow. It can drive anyone mad.

Bonjour, in this video, I want to share three simple advices to increase your focus and therefore your performance. 

The average person today faces a barrage of 4,000 to 10,000 ads daily. We might not even realize it, but these ads are stealthily vying for our attention, pushing us to take action, buy something, or spark future interest.

Enter Skinner and Mihaly. 

Let’s dive into two opposing forces, and I’ll keep it simple. On one side, we have Skinner – a Harvard professor who discovered how to control an animal’s focus. He ran experiments with pigeons, where he’d observe them in a cage, deliberately choosing a behavior to reward with food. Over time, the pigeons learned that certain actions brought rewards, effectively controlling their focus. Skinner believed that we often think we’re in control of our attention, but it’s hijacked by various forces – including those pesky ads.

On the flip side, meet Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the flow guru. He explored a state of deep focus where you’re so immersed in something that time slips away unnoticed – what he called “the flow.” It’s a high-performance state. In your brain, imagine a ring with Skinner on one side and Mihaly on the other, duking it out for your attention.

My Three-Step Strategy: Avoid, Remove, Slow Down 

Avoid: I dodge attention-seeking media. No Facebook, no Twitter. I’m on Instagram, but only to keep tabs on my kids when they travel. My rule? No social media from 8 PM to 8 AM – an 88 approach. 

Remove: I’ve decluttered my phone, axing loads of apps. Check out how many apps clamor for your attention – it’s staggering. Notifications? I’ve axed 99% of them. 

Slow Down: Amid the daily whirlwind, I carve out quality time in my calendar. It’s about quality, not quantity. I aim to slow down, dedicating an hour or even just half an hour to deep thinking on one topic. Focus is like a muscle, and we need to work it out. 

So, my question for you is this: Are you aware of this battle in your brain? And what’s your strategy to ensure Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wins the fight for your focus? 

This is this week’s Work Smarter: Live Better  

Wishing you a fantastic day ahead! 

A bientôt,

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