TMI – Learning How to Filter

Attentional problems, ADHD or ADD is not a brain disease or medical condition as much as it is a life-skill deficiency concerning the ability to focus.  While it is true some people are able to achieve a higher level of focus through pharmaceuticals, you can develop the skill to focus for yourself thus, creating a stronger sense of mastery over your life.

We are exposed to lots of information daily.  Electronics, people, responsibilities and our own internal dialogue are constantly vying for our attention.  It happens so much so it is often difficult to turn it all off at night.

Most of what is assaulting us and demanding our attention is TMI (too much information).  Every notification, person asking for our time, the thing we have to do next and random thought will always assume to be the most important thing and the most deserving of our immediate attention.

We cannot rely on our environment or even our inner dialogue to dictate importance or priority.  We have to accept responsibility and learn to filter. Filtering is not an innate talent some people just “have;” anyone can learn to filter with practice and patience.  Ways to improve your ability to filter include:

  • Making a conscious choice to spend time on information you need to know right now, rather than information that is nice to know. Learning how to not distract yourself on “nice to know” information or “click-bait” is really half the battle of learning to filter.
  • Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can accurately pay attention to several pieces of information coming at you at the same time. Decide what is the most important for the given situation and focus on it.
  • Dedicate at least 15 minutes to a half hour every day “unplugged.” Give your mind, eyes and ears a chance to rest and regroup.

Some additional meditative practices I’ve used include:

  • Pretend you are sitting comfortably on the side of a busy highway intersection. There are no traffic signals or signs, leaving the busy traffic to fend for itself through the intersection.  You could go out into the intersection and start to direct traffic, but you do not.  Rather you focus on just sitting and watching the traffic, doing nothing to interfere.
  • Pretend you are in a very crowded room, such as at a party. You are having an intent conversation with someone whom you are very interested.  During this conversation, you are able to recognize people coming in and out of the room, people moving around and making noise, sometimes being disruptive or causing a commotion, but there is no need to give this activity more than a passing notice.  You can be aware of your surroundings and be free to return to your focus on this conversation.

Through daily practice, you fill find your ability to filter gets increasingly easy.  It really does improve your relationship with time and helps you feel more organized and in control.