I feel like I'm being pulled in too many directions at once.
If only there were two of me, I could get it all done.
If this is you at the end of the day, you are not alone. Millions of people deal with these same frustrations in today's world of endless distraction.
Let's face it: We all live on the edge of being overwhelmed, and old ways of paying attention just don't work anymore. When you get more than three thousand advertising messages and hundreds of emails every day, it's no wonder you feel like you're constantly fighting distraction. What is the secret -- known to a select group of high achievers, including Olympic athletes -- to finding your focus zone? The key is managing adrenaline. Too much and you're overstimulated; too little and you're not stimulated enough. Now you, too, can learn the same methods that high performers use.
In Find Your Focus Zone, psychologist Lucy Jo Palladino, PhD, gives you eight sets of keys to unlock your best attention so that you can concentrate in every situation -- even when you're under pressure or facing dull tasks that must be done. You'll choose which key solutions and strategies work best for you and use them to create your own personal keychain for daily achievement and success. The skills you learn in Find Your Focus Zone will help you to
- Beat procrastination and face boring jobs
- Overcome obstacles and finish what you start
- Prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed and burned out
- Build balance and trust in your work and family relationships
- Enhance your self-confidence
- Use interruptions to your advantage
- Tune out distractions to increase your efficiency and effectiveness
Dr. Palladino is the first to explain the science of attention in plain language. As she teaches you cutting-edge concepts and methods to win the fight against distraction and overload, she highlights them with engaging stories, easy exercises, and useful tips.
With the individualized program that Dr. Palladino prescribes for your particular needs, you'll learn not only how to find your focus zone, but also how to boost your personal productivity by applying these attention skills, self-encouragement practices, and strengths. And by learning to flex your attention
muscle, you'll avoid the dangers of distraction and boredom, like missing deadlines, disappointing your family, and feeling scattered and ineffective.
A book for anyone who struggles to cut through the noise of everyday life, Find Your Focus Zone gives you the tools you need to succeed in today's digital world of distraction. Warm, practical, and user-friendly, with innovative techniques and a powerful message, it's just what the doctor ordered.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
You and I live in a 24/7 culture, and someone is always upping the ante. New technology makes you more productive but pressures you to pick up the pace. You have a new cell phone? Good. Now, your boss can reach you on your day off. Wireless PDA, huh? Excellent. We'll expect e-mails, too. Mini-PC? Even better. We'll instant-message you those files.... Whether you work inside or outside your home, you juggle a schedule of constant demands and always-on electronics. Multitasking is rampant. For better or worse, we're rewiring our brains for what the technology industry now calls "continuous partial attention."
In the digital age of distraction, we function at new levels of stimulation and anxiety. The Internet spews information like a fire hose, but to digest information we need to sip it through a straw. Overwhelmed and overloaded, we have no time to process or reflect. Sunday is not a day of rest, but an attempt to catch up and clear your clutter. Old ways of paying attention can't keep up. We need new tools.
Having control over your attention is a critical skill. I specialize in working with human attention because paying attention matters. Every one of us needs the ability to direct our attention, or we will not reach our goals. In my thirty years of practice as a clinical psychologist, I've helped thousands of people solve myriad problems by improving their attention. Learning attention management skills has made life better for just about everyone who has walked through my door, not just for those with attention deficit disorder.
This morning, for instance, my first appointment was with an executive who'd recently had a heart attack. He came to see me to learn stress management skills that will help him prevent another one. His biggest challenge is to get his mind off his highly competitive workplace when it's time for him to go home and relax. Next, I saw a woman in her thirties who is battling depression. "Everyone tells you to stay positive," she observed, "but no one tells you how." I'm going to help her unglue her attention from negative thoughts of worry, blame, and self-criticism, and focus instead on hope, trust, and self-appreciation.
I saw a college student with social anxiety who's learning to redirect his attention away from his memories of rejection and onto cues he can get from others so he can succeed in social situations. Then came a baby boomer trying to lose weight, struggling to pay more attention to fruits and vegetables than to rich sauces and pastries. A young perfectionist couple have a weekly appointment with me to practice ways to focus on each other's humanity, not on each other's faults. Attention control is a necessary ingredient for each of us to be healthy, happy, and successful.
When it comes to attention and the digital age, we each have different strengths and vulnerabilities. What's your style? Are you prone to attention swings, back and forth between boredom and overdrive? Or do you tend toward one end or the other -- lost in space or racing against the clock with no time to spare? Take a moment to ask yourself which style describes you best.
Most people today fluctuate between boredom and overdrive. Do you:
- Buy books that grab you at the store, but don't finish reading them at home?
- Buy the latest high-tech gadget, play with it while it's new, then turn it into a bookend (to hold up all those unfinished books)?
- Stop what you're doing to answer a cool e-mail, but have two or more half-written e-mails in your drafts folder?
- Agree to go to places that sound like fun when you're invited, then make up excuses when it's actually time to stop what you're doing and go?
- Ambitiously start a diet by buying ingredients for unusual recipes, but toss them out when they grow mold and turn into a science project in your fridge?
Some people find that they're more the scattered and spacey type. It's a constant challenge for them to stick with what they're doing. They spend a lot of time overextended, underpowered, and indecisive. Do you:
- Go to the store, browse through some books, see one you like, put off deciding whether to buy it or not, go home, wish you'd bought it, and eventually go back to the store only to find that it's no longer on the shelf?
- Put off buying the latest high-tech gadget, and when you finally do get it, leave it in the box until your tech-savvy neighbor comes over to set it up for you?
- Have six or more half-written e-mails in your drafts folder?
- Agree to go to places that sound like fun when you're invited, look forward to going, and then arrive late no matter what time you started to get ready?
- Consider starting a diet for a few weeks, go to the bookstore to find (but not buy) a diet book, read magazine articles about losing weight, and put a recipe on your refrigerator door (if there's room) to think about it awhile?
Some people are wired for speed and intensity. They find it hard to say no to constant stimulation. Do you:
- Go only to bookstores that have wifi so you can stay connected while you're there?
- Be the first to own the latest high-tech gadget, trade up your current gadgets for the next generation right away, and have a gadget for every purpose?
- Check your e-mail continuously and wrt msgs ryt awy lk ths?
- Agree to go to places that sound like fun when you're invited but in the back of your mind know that if a better opportunity comes up you will call and cancel?
- If you need to lose weight, gulp down breakfast shakes and power bars -- a great reason to eat on the run!
Whatever your style, you will benefit from Find Your Focus Zone.
Copyright © 2007 by Lucy Jo Palladino, PhD
Table of Contents
Part I Understanding Your Focus Zone
1 What Is Your Focus Zone?
2 Bored, Hyper, or Both
3 Attention in the Digital Age
4 What Are We Doing to Our Brains?
Part II The Eight Keychains
5 Emotional Skills: Keychains 1 and 2
6 Confronting Fear and All Its Cousins: Keychains 3, 4, and 5
7 Mental Skills: Keychain 6
8 Structure without Pressure: Keychain 7
9 Behavior Skills: Keychain 8
Part III Digital-Age Strategies for Success
10 Outsmarting Interruption and Overload
11 Defeating Distraction in the 21st Century
12 What If You (or Your Children) Have Attention Deficit Disorder?
Part IV Your Focus Zone as a Way of Life
13 Teaching Kids to Pay Attention
14 The Power of Attention
Appendix The Eight Keychains -- A Quick Guide
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