Focus. It’s one of those skills that is jumping out the window with every new technology. Our era has trouble doing work on the computer without a plethora of open tabs, beckoning us to check our social media lives, to change the music in the background, to watch more of those funny cat videos. It’s amazing how well we multi-task. Sometimes, it’s just better to focus though.
I like to devote my entire self to one task. The task grows more enjoyable the more attention I pay it, and I become a time wizard. When you focus solely on one idea with all your energies, the time flies. For example, if you enjoy reading, you’ll get sucked into a book for hours, your friends and family concerned about where you went, but you don’t notice the time passing, for you’re focusing on the lives of characters so beautifully crafted by an artist whose words take you away from temporal troubles and place you in the immediate present.
If any of you philosophers are reading this, you’ll know that Soren Kierkegaard is all about art depicting what he calls “immediacy.” His idea that art ought to transport you to a world where time ceases to exist is not a new one, for so many have discoursed on the effect good art has on the audience. Good art demands all of your attention, and when it does, we should give it that attention.
Yet today, because of all of our distractions, we ignore the demands of good art and continue to half listen. This is why we should read with zealous. A good exercise is just to daily find something, even if it’s not art, and shut everything else out. Some days, I’ll do something completely different. I will go running without music and simply focus on the way my body reacts to the hills and turns, to the speed at which I pattern my feet. Those runs actually feel like they go by faster than when I have music, for I have the tendency to count how many songs have passed and how many more I will likely hear before I hit my distance goal.
Another exercise is just to read anything and refuse to check the time. Really entertaining books will draw you in easier than others, but no matter what you’re reading, don’t skip or skim, just read and lose yourself in that world. You could paint, you could sing. Practice an instrument. Just do something, and put technology away. Focus on immediacy.