October 25th, 2019
The modern world has become anti-focus. All our devices and entertainment options pull us toward constant, relentless distraction.
We see and read much more every day than we did just a few short years ago. Social media has upheld its promise to connect us, but the downside is too much information. Our workdays are full of short meetings instead of long, deep sessions.
It all adds up to lower output and more input, along with a lack of intensity.
Our brains are wired to seek novelty and new, especially for those of us who love innovation. The desire to seek and find new ideas and combinations that create newness can be very strong.
Since this wiring is part of who we are, the body also rewards us with a chemical reaction when we find new ideas that we can use. Dopamine is released and gives us energy. This same chemical is applied when we run long and hard, or are in “fight-or-flight” mode.
All these encourage our behavior to seek the NEW and not the DO.
However, we cannot pursue excellence in innovation management if we don’t balance seeking and doing. Our thinking functions are subdued when we are seeking and searching. We cannot be as effective at combining all the ideas we have found when we don’t have focus to think about these ideas and how they can work together.
Effective methods to pause the seek-mode and utilize the think-mode can include:
- Use a tool on your devices and computers to capture time and sites, then analyze the results (atimelogger or Smartertime are both great apps to track activity);
- Plan time to think and combine the ideas you have found;
- Seek to understand how downtime can help your mind focus;
- Schedule an hour to clear your mind with no devices and no interruptions twice a week;
- Also, schedule bi-weekly focus time to repeat and maintain momentum; and
- Use a pen to write what comes to mind as clarity improves.
A good text to reference is Habit Stacking by S. J. Scott. This book promotes the idea that small consistent habits can help focus and output. Scott also has a free online-course and site that walks through the improvement methods.
The core of this book is centered around three types of habits:
- Keystone habits that have a positive effect on your life;
- Support habits that help achieve key steps; and
- Elephant habits to complete large projects in small consistent steps.
By utilizing these app tools, the reference text, the online course and the recognition of all the anti-focus in our day, we will achieve much more progress. Innovation intensity will be improved and your teams will see the difference.