Every morning, you and I wake up with an abundance of attention. But as the day goes on, distractions steal our attention away from the activities and pursuits that make the hours pass like minutes.
There are two kinds of distractions: natural distractions and man-made distractions.
Natural distractions are inconveniences, things like deflated tires.
We turn natural distractions into man-made distractions. Instead of calling triple A to come help with that deflated tire, we tweet about how unfair life is. 2 seconds later, we’re checking Twitter again to see how many people liked our tweet. The deflated tire wasn’t the distraction. The distraction was our reaction to the deflated tire.
A man-made distraction is something like Twitter.It’s not designed for your long-term concentration. It’s designed to take you out of the moment by putting you in the ever-changing moment of ‘right this very second, these things are happening, and if you don’t check in now, you’ll miss out.’ Few people are good at Tweeting with substance. (Naval Ravikant is one of those people.)
Concentrating is not the same as responding to that Tweet that was posted a millisecond ago. Responding to that tweet a millisecond after it was posted is called reacting. And reacting is exactly what we’re not supposed to do when we’re listening to someone.
When we listen, we respond. And we respond only after we’ve done the hard work of concentrating – the work of thinking about what this person is attempting to communicate to us.
Collectively, what we’re not doing is seeking mediums that give us ample time, space, and room for our curiosity to breathe. We’re not giving ourselves problems and projects that are worth our long-term concentration.
Those mediums – the blank canvases and pages – they’re not easy to market. How many commercials have you seen where a woman sits on front of an empty word document?We never hear about the hard work of concentrating because it’s difficult to advertise. Therefor, concentration must not exist.
But it does exist. If you need proof, just remember the last time you felt the hours pass like minutes.