I am ~2/3 through Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing and the last chapter I read was about attention. I was struck with how important the very idea of attention is in basically sharing our experiences, our lives.
(I was also reminded of this selective attention video. Watch it if you haven’t done the exercise before!)
I tend to hyperfocus. I am fairly unaware of . . . stuff happening around me. This can be good (I can read even if there are distracting noises) or it can be bad (I can walk from the parking garage to an event without capturing ANY data about where my car is located if I don’t consciously think to do so).
I think the hyperfocus generally helps me at work. I have been working on trying to deepen my listening and one (random) thing that seems to help is to try VERY HARD to finish with each pt note before moving on to the next patients so that all of my attention can go on the patient I am seeing at any given moment. If I have an unfinished note it’s like I can’t totally let go of the last encounter and have this attention residue that bothers me in a subconscious way.
This is not always possible (I feel like I always have like 4 patients arrive simultaneously at 3 pm) but it is often possible.
The other point Odell makes (fairly subtly, I thought!) is the way that online . . . stuff is so dangerously powerful at pulling our attention away from real things onto a digital sphere that is almost an alternate reality – but one that isn’t physically real. Social media in particular is engineered so well and presented in such an enticing fashion that people almost involuntarily get sucked in.
Attention placed there is attention NOT placed elsewhere.
Anyway, it definitely made me think. Her book has also made me want to get out into nature and the world more — see more art, explore local outdoor areas, listen to more music. Yes, a book titled How to Do Nothing is inspiring me to do . . . more? I guess more of some things, less of others.
It is not a typical personal development book — it is much deeper and written in a more academic fashion — but I have to say I am getting a lot out of it.
Speaking of Attention . . .
I am featured on Lisa Woodruff’s Organize 365 Podcast today! I am a huge fan of Lisa’s work and the whole concept of Organize 365, and I am particularly inspired by her back-to-school journey she is pursuing (she is working towards a PhD!).