The Philosophical Apprentice

“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” Albert Einstein

Focus, Focus

The latest obsession of mine is to increase my ability to focus and get more work done. This ability is affecting me not just in my job but in my school studies and, increasingly, in my personal life.

It seems as if the modern world is nothing more than a giant conspiracy to distract us away from what is important. We want to read and what do we get, the internet, where there is an infinite amount of material, vast amounts of which are junk. We start reading here but then something else comes along and we drop what we are reading to read something else. Of course while you are doing this you, if you are like me, probably have about 20 tabs open. The end result is that we really only skim and browse through the ephemera of our nebulous online universe.

My complaint is compounded by the fact that my job requires me to read and write all day long. In addition, I work in a cubicle farm where there is, I have counted, close to 3 million different distractions. The continuous all day long stream of information often leaves me almost dizzy and short of breath.

And it is taking its toll on my personal life. Like many people I am discovering that I am finding it increasingly difficult to sit down and read a traditional book. I still read a lot mind you but I have noticed it only being done in the in-between times. I will read if I am eating by myself or when I’m having my morning bowel movement. But it is becoming rarer by the day that I can sit still for a couple of hours and simply read. I remember fondly when I first got out of the army. I lived by myself in a small cabin in the woods. i did not have a television much less a computer and all I had to entertain myself was to read. So read I did. Usually three or four books a week. Oh happy times.

For a long time I have wanted to recapture that magic.

So it what somewhat fortuitous that I came across Leo Babauta’s free e-book Focus. Babauta is a well-known blogger at the popular Zenhabits. Babauta’s contention is that we have become addicted to our digital connectivity. He is on to something here. You cannot go a day without reading something about studies showing people displaying depression like symptoms if they go a day without their facebook. Babauta recommends we put strict limits to our internet usage for our own sanity if we are to reclaim our focus on what is important in our lives. Babauta’s book includes some good tools and techniques to limit the distractions that serve as attention thieves. They are all very simple and workable and I recommend the book thoroughly. Best of all it is free and you can download it at the link above.

If you read it you may be able to reclaim the magic of slipping into a good book and losing yourself completely every night before you go to bed. Just as I hope to once again.



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