Narrow Your Focus: The Magic Dust of Many Things

Why simply and intentionally narrowing our focus can improve every facet of our lives

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Entropy is a scientific concept that you learn when studying thermodynamics. At its core, it describes the phenomenon within a closed system of things moving from a state of order to a state of disorder. As a system moves in the direction of disorder, it has less capacity to do work.

Popular discussions abound describing our distracted and over programmed lives. Our smartphones exponentially grow the number of interruptions in our day. Our responsibilities, deadlines, and worries pile on making treading water our much too frequent existence near drowning. What entropy tells us, when we are in a state of disorder, we have less capacity to do work.

Then it occurred to me, while listening to someone present information about alternatives where they jumped back and forth from simply collecting information to trying to weave solutions and causation in at the same time. And then it hit me. (Albeit, it has taken me a long time to understand this.)

To narrow your focus is where your power exists in most situations. Its foundation is at the core of this phenomenon of entropy. Narrowing your focus is a way to bring order into our lives. Naturally, it removes things from our attention (the disorder in our lives or thinking) allowing us to bring more order to what remains. Therefore, making us more productive by increasing our capacity to do more work.

Behaviorally, to narrow your focus is a much stronger lever, than knowledge or experience towards creating personal change in your life. 

Becoming more effective with greater impact in your daily life because of it. 

What isn’t obvious (and why I call it “magic dust” as it can’t be seen directly) is how many common routines are based, at their core, on narrowing our focus. Without us even realizing it.

When overwhelmed with work and choices what are we told? Prioritize. Figure out the top three items that are most important. Work on them first. Sounds like NARROW YOUR FOCUS.

You’re sent for training on a new skill for personal & organizational development. The value of time spent happens because you NARROW YOUR FOCUS for a few hours or few days. The reason that it fades is we lose that narrow focus when we return to our daily life.

Vacations act in much the same way. Immersed in a different surrounding we NARROW OUR FOCUS to what is at hand. What we see. New places we visit. Vacations restore some sense of order in our lives that we find refreshing.

Having faith is a strength that we all look for in times of crisis. What’s interesting about faith, is that to believe without doubt (to build up your faith), requires us to NARROW OUR FOCUS to make God a larger part of our life in times of struggle. Using our belief in His power for forgiveness, compassion and love to block out everything else to help us get through our difficult times.

Becoming present in this moment, to what is around or in front of us, requires us to NARROW OUR FOCUS for this to occur. Bringing about more meaningful connection, engagement, and thoughtfulness towards everyone we meet and work we touch.

Permanent changing of our food choices for better health, requires us to NARROW OUR FOCUS to only those foods that are better/healthier for us to eat. Paleo, vegan, gluten free, keto, etc are simply guides that NARROW OUR FOCUS to foods that will bring about both weight loss and better health. Calorie constricting diets that let you eat all foods including desserts in smaller portions aren’t sustainable because they don’t NARROW OUR FOCUS.

Intermittent fasting NARROWS OUR FOCUS to eating food within a six- or eight-hour period a day. Giving us improved results for weight loss in the process.

Marketers create personas to NARROW OUR FOCUS so that our advertising speaks stronger to the types of people that will buy our products. Consultants spend all of their time trying to NARROW OUR FOCUS on key issues. Doctors who diagnose help NARROW OUR FOCUS to the acute health problems we need to attend to.

A bunch of flowers, a warm hug, or a gentle smile are ways we try to NARROW OUR FOCUS between two individuals to deepen our relationship based on love, respect, and/or desire. 

Ideas are infertile when simply stated in casual conversation. You must NARROW YOUR FOCUS on the one that you commit to work on and see through. That holds your attention and challenges you to action. Only when we NARROW OUR FOCUS do we begin to see both constraints and opportunities.

Difficult problems demand us to NARROW OUR FOCUS. We get lost and disoriented when faced with difficult problems. We jump at solutions that try to solve everything and are left with little to show for it. When we NARROW OUR FOCUS, we choose only to solve a piece of the problem at a time. Giving us small wins together with more confidence to continue to chip away at what seemed insurmountable.

Cleaning your room, organizing your workspace, emptying a junk drawer all require us to NARROW OUR FOCUS to see them for what they are and then take action to simplify your life.

Meditation is a conscious exercise to NARROW OUR FOCUS. Asking us to feel our breathe or concentrate on a single mantra. Journaling is a conscious exercise to NARROW OUR FOCUS by challenging us to write down our deepest feelings and thoughts so that we can learn more about ourselves. Both ways to meant to help relax and center us.

The list is endless. This tug of war to NARROW OUR FOCUS is eternal. It does not come naturally to us. Our cognitive and emotional capacities are more limited than we think. Especially in this modern age of distractions.

To NARROW OUR FOCUS is the most important self-organizing skill of each of us should spend time developing.

Developing this skill to NARROW OUR FOCUS intentionally, will lead to a greater self-awareness of both yourself and your environment. Leaving the noise in our mind behind in order to help you build a more meaningful life by being more effective in what you choose to spend your time doing. Besides, we gain a feeling of control and well-being each time we can do this successfully.

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