Disconnect to Maximize Your Focus

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Disconnect
to Maximize
Your Focus

Small daily changes you can make
that have a big payoff

Ask anyone how they're doing these days and you'll likely get some variation of "busy." We're all overworked, under-slept and even our downtime can be full of distractions that rob us of the pleasure of simply enjoying the moment. Sure, we can drink more coffee or utilize tactics that boost our energy to be more productive. But what about slowing down? Just a little bit. Not to be less effective but to actually maximize your focus. Because stillness, experts now agree, is the secret weapon for those that are charging ahead. And this fall, three well-researched resources are helping guide your path.

Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday

Stillness Is Key

By Ryan Holiday

$14.99 at Amazon

Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday

Stillness Is Key

By Ryan Holiday

$14.99 at Amazon

All great leaders, thinkers, artists, athletes and visionaries share a certain steadiness, says Ryan Holiday, the in-demand creative strategist and best-selling author. This, according to Holiday, is what enables them to conquer their tempers. To avoid distraction and discover great insights. To achieve happiness and do the right thing. It's the basis of his new book, Stillness Is the Key.

What exactly is stillness? To this modern-day guru, it's not just plopping down on the couch. "To be steady while the world spins around you," he writes. "To act without frenzy. To hear only what needs to be heard. To possess quietude, exterior and interior, on demand." Stillness doesn't necessarily mean you can't move: Holiday says you can be still while walking, running or even working at your desk. But this probably isn't the best time to be bopping to music or listening to a podcast.

How does the author himself make time for stillness in his busy life? He takes time to journal and prioritizes "some sort of physical activity, like taking a long walk," every day. After reading his take on wisdom from some of history's boldest thinkers, you'll not only have interesting anecdotes to share with coworkers and dinner guests, you'll also be able to carve your own path to stillness and focus.

Nir Eyal, author of the best-selling book Hooked, says that learning to control your attention will be "the skill of the century." He knows that distractions aren't going away, but the frequency and impact they have is largely up to us. "As someone who has always struggled with distraction, I wanted an answer to the age-old question of why we do things against our best interests," he says. "Believing we're powerless makes us less likely to do something about the problem—but we have way more power than we think."

Indistractable by Nir Eyal

Indistractable

By Nir Eyal

$16.19 at Amazon

Indistractable by Nir Eyal

Indistractable

By Nir Eyal

$16.19 at Amazon

He spent five years researching and experimenting to write his new book, Indistractable, which is aimed at helping us channel our focus and curb our addictive technological distractions. His best advice? Focus on the root cause, not the device; "We often tend to think it's our phones or technology or video games that are the distraction itself" he says. "But distraction has deep roots—and it's worth figuring out why it is that you're actually allowing yourself to get pulled away from your work or your family or whatever else you really wanted to be doing in that moment."

24/6 by Tiffany Shlain

24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week

By Tiffany Shlain

$23.40 at Amazon

24/6 by Tiffany Shlain

24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week

By Tiffany Shlain

$23.40 at Amazon

But perhaps a more realistic way to start is with a weekly digital detox of sorts. Internet pioneer and filmmaker Tiffany Shlain suggests taking one day off from tech in her new book, 24/6. It's a concept she developed a few years ago, calling it a tech shabbat—after the Jewish day of rest. The book provides a blueprint for slowing down with a side of neuroscience and a dash of humor. "The digital revolution has blurred the lines between time on and time off, and time off is disappearing," she said, explaining the need for a day off to The Boston Globe. "As for our leisure time, we've created a culture in which we're still 'working' while we play: needing to photograph every moment, then crafting witty posts of our 'fun, relaxing activities' on Instagram, then obsessively checking responses. We can barely catch our breath in the tsunami of personal and work digital input, which results in us not being truly present for any of it."

In the end, the choice is up to us. Only we truly know how much we need to slow down or what areas of our lives would be improved by some stillness. But one thing is for sure: no one has ever regretted slowing down, quieting their mind and getting more from their time off. So, isn't it worth a try?

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