Whether we like it or not, true productivity belongs to those who can concentrate. So, if you care about maximizing your productivity, you should care about getting better at concentrating.
A Concentration Lesson From a Text Message
“It was crazy. She didn’t even mind all the blood.”
That was a text I received from a close friend.
What could it mean?
Why is he sending it to me?
I was curious (and a little concerned).
So, I texted him back with a good ol’ fashioned “?”
To which he replied, “Whoops. Sorry. Wrong person.”
Okay, case closed. Right?
Now I had even more questions.
Who was my friend texting?
What were they texting about?
Am I friends with a murderer??
He never offered an explanation, so I left it alone.
But I kept thinking about it for the rest of the day.
I was so curious.
And I had to fight like mad to concentrate on my tasks.
I was distracted.
The Power of Unfinished Tasks
My friend’s simple text snafu almost derailed my productivity.
And here’s why:
Our brains are wired to keep unfinished tasks near our working memory. It has to do with something known as the Zeigarnik Effect.
Whether you know it or not, every unfinished task you have is using a little bandwidth from your prefrontal cortex (the part of your brain mostly responsible for concentration).
I was constantly fighting the distraction of my friend’s text because the story was unfinished. I wanted to know what happened. So my brain kept that text on deck, ready to pop up and command my attention.
That’s why it was so difficult for me to keep up my concentration on all my other tasks.
What’s Stealing Your Concentration?
Now, if I had that much trouble concentrating with one text gnawing at me, imagine how difficult it is to concentrate when there are five, ten, or twenty unfinished things rattling around in your brain.
It would be nearly impossible to concentrate.
Yet, that’s what so many of us are trying to do every single day.
You cannot be productive working like this. Your brain simply won’t let you.
So, next time you feel yourself losing focus, stop for a minute or two and think about whether you have any unfinished tasks that might be stealing your attention.