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Thursday

How to find time in the world of tweets

Stop reading this post. Go check Facebook, I’m sure that new photo you just posted moments ago has gotten a couple of likes. Oh, and don’t forget to post the picture on Twitter and Instagram, too, with a catchy hashtag to make sure everyone talking about cute photos notices you. Now you can--after double-checking Facebook again to see how many more likes you’ve received, of course--start reading this post.

Attribution.

This is how the majority of us spend our daily lives. It sounds pretty ridiculous when written, but when you take a moment to consider your own habits, you’ll find you often do this subconsciously. Occasionally, I’ll get an important text from someone, detailing the park I need to meet at, the email I need to forward, or the article I need to read. After reading the text, the business on my phone is usually finished--I have noted my task and will get to it when appropriate.

That’s never the end of it, though. Habitually, I click the “home” button and locate the easy-to-find Facebook and Twitter apps. I don’t scroll through my feeds, but rather check to see specifically what has happened in regards to me: Has anyone commented, liked, or shared my status? Has someone retweeted me, favorited my tweet, or better yet followed me?

Tendencies like these cannot go on, because...
  • ...it renders you unproductive. I’ve noticed that, despite the social media frenzy, people often find time for certain obligations. All of my peers go to work more frequently, and for longer shifts, than I, and yet they are all more distracted. Not showing up for work because you needed to tweet about something would get you fired--a direct, punitive consequence. What I have found, however, is that many of the most valuable moments and activities in life are different, yielding no immediate or apparent consequences. Fitness pursuits and studying are often the first to take a hit. 
  • ...it decreases your IQ. Seriously. We’ve grown up in a world where multi-tasking is praised. The more you can do at once, the better off you are. If you’re looking to innovate, to go above and beyond, this is a mindset to throw to the wind. According to CNN, multi-tasking drops a woman’s IQ by an average of 5 points, and a man’s by an average of 10.  Find focus, and you will be more successful at whatever you put your mind to. 

How I Find Focus in the Chaos

The benefits of becoming more focused are now clear: you’ll be both more productive and intelligent if you set aside the smartphone for awhile and work, or create. Lately, I have been experimenting with new methods of becoming more focused, and here is what I’ve found:

  • Rise early. Most of my peers cringe at the idea of waking up before 8 o’clock, or, for that matter, in the AM. I was one of them. Today I woke up at 6:30 am, still relatively late for some, and I’ve quickly realized why so many people praise the early morning: there are fewer noises, fewer up and about, and it’s absolutely beautiful outside in the summer. Become accustomed to shutting down for the night at a more reasonable time and rising earlier; you’ll almost certainly find yourself more productive in the first few hours of being awake. All of my blog posting is done before noon, when my creativity seemingly begins to ebb. 
  • Organize. Having a good routine is important. If you can organize each and every day, either the night before or in the early morning (recommended), you will find yourself less confused and lost throughout the daily grind. You’re less likely to check social media websites or begin veering towards less productive tasks if you have clearly laid out everything you need, or want, to accomplish for the day. Lately I have been using Trello for this task, and it works very well. My lists include “Foci” (this is where my most important obligations are listed), “Today” (where everything I need to accomplish that day goes), “This week” (where tasks for the week are listed and moved as needed), “Scheduled” (for tasks and obligations that I know of in the distant future), “Later” (a seldom-used list for things I have yet to place), “Waiting On...” (as a reminder for things I am waiting on), and “Completed” (where everything I have accomplished is moved at the end of the day). 
  • Workout. Aside from rising earlier, I have also found that I am clearest when I am working out. When I run, my mind is able to wander and enjoy the scenery around me. There is nothing but my thoughts, my body, and the pavement. It is during my runs that I solve many of the questions and problems I encounter. This has inspired me to run more often, over longer distances, and has thus had the dual-benefit of making me more focused and fit. 

My generation undeniably is the most prone to distractions. We’re the first to have received Facebook and Twitter accounts before adulthood, and therefore were defenseless against the formation of negative, obsessive habits when using them. We can still break way. We can still find focus in the chaos and be more productive, more focused, and therefore happier millennials. 

Steven Chaffin, Jr. is an American writer and blogger. Aside from creating Runner’s Ravings, he is also an editor for gaming news website PlayStation Universe, and a freelance writer for fitness column SixPackAbs. You can get in touch with Steven @runnersravings on Twitter, or via one of the social network links at the top and bottom of the site.