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It's Difficult to Focus

David Sherry
3 min read
It's Difficult to Focus

Email is turned up to a 10, Twitter is turned up to a 10. The news is polarized, speculative and constantly hammering on themes that are an emergency today and forgotten tomorrow.

No wonder it's tough to focus.

Not to mention being stuck inside with work...

So in 2020, everything is about mindshare because stories are driving culture and facts are out the window. We respond based on an emotional charge, by what the response of others is.

The crowd is like a school of fish constantly changing direction based on the latest scare or story.

There are problems with centralized authority, namely, when you get your news from 1 or 3 places, whatever they want to espouse is what you get. There's little variety of thought. But at that time, everyone fell into a small number of camps.

Now it's splintered into infinite.

And it's not about the event, but about the reaction to it. You look across social media for what to think, how to act, who's got the best take. And so the news is a swarm, a cluster of opinions, so many that it's tough to truly know which are your own, opinions that are.

And after a brief break off of Twitter... I came back to a huge queue of waiting notifications, some of which felt important.

Had I missed so much?

So the artist, the creator needs to toe the line between being on 24/7 and having the space to be able to synthesize this mass amount of information. To be able to simply get work done...

But what's tough is work today doesn't look like it used to. In some ways, BEING PLUGGED IN IS THE WORK. Or at least we tell ourselves that, right or wrong.

But you can't deny that influence and attention are shaped on social, which can prime products, sales, tickets...

I keep thinking to myself that if we're in the knowledge economy, and many of the old-world jobs aren't coming back... then isn't it all about attention and focus?

Isn't the true superpower of the day being able to cut yourself off from the noise, have a clear thought, and take action without pulling up a new tab every few minutes?

If it is, I certainly struggle with it.

The only saving grace for me, as like writing this essay, is the flow or the pull of the muse. Sometimes you get typing and your fingers don't want you to stop, despite what allures may sit only two tabs over.

And I'm rereading Cal Newport's Deep Work for the reminder. And I'm thinking that today it's not so much about duration... you don't need to put in a ton of time. At least not in any one day. Careers are still built on decades...

But with the infinite amount of robots, automation, outsourcing available today means that decisions are more important than grinding it out.

Which is what Naval Ravikant has been touting – today it's about leverage.

And leverage is about making good decisions with the tools available at your fingertips.

And leverage is often not about adding more time or even adding more people.

So no, you don't need to grind it out, in fact, sometimes grinding it out means you're stuck in the old system, repeating what used to be rewarded thinking it will make the difference.

And no, we probably don't need more time either. Better to understand the terrain, understand your leverage, use the dials appropriately, and wait for the right opportunity.

The world of work is changing rapidly, just look at eSports.

There are single individual gamers with 100 Million subscribers. Wrap your head around that! A single person, with subscriber counts that could start to rival a streaming company. That's probably 10x the viewers on Quibi! And they raised over $1Billion!

Sure, we can't all be gamers, but if you think it's spreadsheet proficiency that makes the difference with leverage of the internet, you're holding onto a skill from the old world that will be automated or at least augmented.  

So I don't have the answers, only that we're still learning what this all looks like.

When are you at work?
When are you not?

I wish these questions were easier for me to answer, but honestly, it's a blur. This is why focus and intention about spending my time are more important than ever.

In a world where there are no boundaries, being able to draw them for yourself is a superpower.

Personal Leadership and Productivity