Attention Is A Limited Resource
Always remember, your focus determines your reality. George Lucas
The theme of this blog is my subtitle: “Attention is a limited resource.” My goal is to convince you of the significance of this fact. Attention is a finite source; there is only so much at your disposal. And attention isn’t free. When you spend it on one thing, it costs you the ability to focus on something else. Paying attention to one thing necessarily comes at the expense of another thing.
Today’s multitasking myth is a barrier to my goal. Scientists now say if you think you are multitasking, think again. New research shows that we humans aren’t as good as we think we are at doing several things at once. In other words, we can’t pay attention to the forest and the trees.
However, in today’s age of modern technology, the myth that we can multitask has never been stronger. But researchers say it’s still a myth — and they have the data to prove it. Humans, they say, don’t do lots of things simultaneously. Instead, we switch our attention from task to task extremely quickly. Switching our attention back and forth has consequences. What does this do to our focus? One possible consequence is a fuzzy focus: attention that isn’t clear or coherent for determining our experience and reality.
And it is well known that the reason you can’t see the forest is because you are paying attention to the trees. Since you can’t pay attention to everything, what you decide to pay attention to and focus on determines what you see which determines what you experience which determines your reality. Knowing that you can’t see everything helps you acknowledge your “inattentional blindness”, being blind to what you don’t pay attention to. Are you are aware that you are “blind” to what you are not paying attention to?
If I was successful convincing you of the significance of the fact that “attention is a limited resource”, or if you already believed it, that is an important first step. However, I realize the next step of selecting what to pay attention to intentionally is not easy to do. What you and I pay attention to (focus on) isn’t often a well thought out conscious choice. This is because intentional attention isn’t a natural, instinctive thing to do.
But that is another topic — for other blogs.