The Art of Focus

“Like every one else, I am losing the attention war. I toggle over to my emails when I should be working. I text when I should be paying attention to the people in front of me. I spend hours looking at mildly diverting stuff on YouTube. …

Many of us lead lives of distraction, unable to focus on what we know we should focus on. According to an op-ed on Sunday in The New York Times, 66%  of workers aren’t able to focus on one thing at a time. some 70% of employees don’t have regular time for creative or strategic thinking while at work. The information universe tempts you with mildly pleasant but ultimately numbing diversions.”

                                                                                                                                                                         The New York Times

The problem is that for so much of the time, we walk around in a state of ‘waking sleep’, our heads full of past and future, or we waste time being distracted by all the information available to us on multi-media. Really another form of procrastination!

Let’s take a simple example – visiting the supermarket. We can walk down the appropriate aisles putting the things we need into our basket. Or, we can wander up and down the aisles, thinking about last weekend and a programme on TV. Inevitably, this reduces our efficiency and we tramp the same aisle more than once, then going back to a previous one for something we’ve forgotten. At the check-out, we realize we don’t have milk but it’s too late to go back. So we leave the shop cross and stressed.

The solution? Being right here, right now, rather than there then.

Being in the present empowers you to do your best without unnecessary stress. (Chapt 2: Focusing the Attention)

The most common impediment to focused attention is circling thoughts in the mind, especially those with an emotional overlay (Why do I always have to do the shopping? It’s not fair! etc) So how do we learn to focus the attention? Next  time you keep being distracted from the task in hand, try using your senses to return to the moment. What do you see/ hear/ feel/taste/smell right now? Be there. Allow any thoughts to come and go and return to the task at hand. The aim is not to make you into a Goody 2 Shoes! Living in the Now and being able to focus the attention when needed, leads to inner peace and greater happiness.

Be kind and gentle with yourself.

The full book can be downloaded as an e-book from Amazon on  or, Search by typing in: Living in the Now by Jill Jacques


About Jill M Jacques

I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, and have spent most of my life here doing the usual things - marrying, having children and caring for an array of pets ranging from dogs to silkworms and chameleons. I first became interested in philosphy and its practical application in everyday life in my early 20s and spent many years as part of a group that pursued this goal. Drawing on this experience, I have been running "How to live in the Now" programmes for over 10 years. I wrote this book in response to requests from group members for something "simple and practical". I tend to see the funny side of life situations and enjoy writing humorous back pages as well as short stories and some poetry. Some of these have been published. Being here now is what really matters.
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