December 11, 2023

Reclaiming Your Focus: Daily Practices for Restoring Concentration

I believe that many entrepreneurs and managers face a common dilemma: on top of the ten daily tasks to be dealt with, there are another hundred emails to be handled and a thousand unread messages to respond to.

This leaves us feeling exhausted, and little by little, stress and anxiety accumulate, preventing us from focusing on the most important issues while making us passive and reactive.

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that I can’t do anything at all. However, I was recently inspired by a conversation I had with a well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalist, who shared with me how he regained his focus and reestablished his rhythm in life.

This acclaimed investor and highly respected serial entrepreneur has successfully founded two multi-billion dollar publicly listed companies and oversees a successful venture capital firm with assets exceeding 6 billion US dollars. Logically speaking, his life should be busier than mine, but when I saw him, he seemed quite relaxed and unhurried, and he still had time each day to exercise and be with his family.

I asked him how he was able to relax with such a busy life. He said, “Matt, it’s very simple. When I first get up in the morning, I don’t allow myself to look at my phone. Instead, I ask myself, ‘What are my most important priorities today?’ Then I get out of bed and attend to those priorities. I only respond to emails and messages twice each day.”

“That’s it?” His answer was too simple. I looked at him in disbelief.

“That’s it.” Then he looked me in the eyes and asked, “Have you ever noticed how the message notification mechanism on your phone is designed to keep you distracted?” Those notifications marked with red dots are designed to trigger our anxiety and keep us constantly focused on the most urgent matters instead of the most important ones. Wouldn’t you agree that that’s a huge trap?”

Inspired, I began to imitate his routine. As I gradually adjusted the frequency and pace with which I responded to messages, I discovered I was better able to focus on the present moment, and as I completed my to-do list, I was less affected by disruptions. I also came to a new realization: Most of the requests I received didn’t require my immediate attention. Many decisions and responses could be addressed in due course.

Maybe it’s because sending messages is so easy, but it seems that when people have questions, they opt to send messages before actively seeking answers or solutions themselves. However, by setting specific times to reply to messages, it becomes easy to filter out the less important ones.

I hope that by sharing this daily practice, you too can use these tools to reclaim your concentration. I also hope it can help busy individuals rediscover the rhythm of life!

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