Hyperfocus is the ability to hone in on a specific task, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else.
It becomes a trance like state in which we concentrate until everything becomes invisible but the thoughts we think.
This is both a blessing on a curse.
From a creativity standpoint, we easily lose all sense of time and perspective and disappear into the glorious oblivion of flow as the ideas pour out of us like a waterfall. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
It reminds me of all those nights in high school I whaled on my guitar in the basement until my fingers were bleeding, while the rest of my friends were out getting wasted. Would not trade those moments for anything in the world. Thank you very much, obsessive tendencies.
On the flip side, what happens we are not even aware that we’re focusing so intensely? And what if our hyperfocus makes us so oblivious to the world around us that we lose the plot, or worse yet, send a message to others that we have scrambled priorities?
It reminds me of all those mornings as an entrepreneur, spending hours designing beautiful and hilarious slide decks for imaginary presentations, instead of trying to book actual clients who would pay me real money to deliver those presentations. Woops.
A classic tale of right focus, wrong target. Concentrating to a fault. Becoming over immersed in unproductive activities while ignoring our more pressing responsibilities.
One tool for reigning in our superhuman focusing powers is introducing an external apparatus of accountability. To agree on some kind of physical cue to help us to snap out of hyperfocus.
Like setting two alarm clocks, one ten minutes before quitting time to invite us to wrap things up, and another at the designated end point.
Or asking a manager not to check up us you until a specified date.
Or using a task management system to time box your work plan into daily or weekly iterations, after which no further changes will be made.
Each of these cues are boundaries that enable us the freedom to focus to our heart’s desire, but also come back down to earth at a reasonable time.
Remember, the ability to amuse yourself in the confines of your own mind for long stretches of time is both an asset and a liability.
Use it wisely.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What is the potential cost of your constitutional undistractability?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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