This past week, I was fortunate to participate in TEDActive, a parallel event held at the same time as TED in Long Beach. TEDActive features a live simulcast of the conference with an emphasis on connection, conversation and creation. It was, of course, a stunning event. I'll let you watch the 2012 speakers in lieu of my weekly post.*
*Talks will be released in the weeks following the event, so check back often. Currently, there are five TED Talks available from 2012.
As part of my TEDActive 2012 membership, I receive books from TED speakers. The latest shipment included Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow. In it, Kahneman describes the divisions in our cognitive functions, which he calls System 1 and System 2. System 1 controls reactive thoughts, which we often call intuition. System 2 is more deliberate. Depending on the circumstance, using the wring system can cause all kinds of problems, as illustrated in this quiz in Vanity Fair.
Using System 2 requires more effort, and our brains like to operate with as little work as possible. One of the results is that you are easily distracted when you are trying to concentrate. Blame biology. Of course, blaming your brain won't reduce your distractions.
Here are some proven tactics for battling distractions:
1. Make a daily plan. This doesn't need to be a checklist, just a note of the two or three most important things you should accomplish today.
2. Turn off your phone. And close your social media tabs, email alerts, and everything else. Give yourself 30-60 minutes to dive deeply into your work.
3. Close the loop. When you have continuing personal conflict, unreturned calls, or other unresolved issues, your mind constantly returns to them. End them. You'll give yourself more space to think.
A wise friend once shared this counsel: "Being intentional creates value. Distractions cost you your goals."