One Thing More Valuable than Time and Money

People (especially Americans) say time is money. But the fact is both of these commodities are wasted without ATTENTION. Let there be no mistake, attention is power. When we apply attention to time it’s magnified and when we apply attention to money it’s multiplied.

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I’ve got all kinds of quotes for you:

In business:

“Attention from those interested and able to buy is worth more now than ever before. Companies like Google, Amazon, Daily Candy, Netflix, Target, and on and on traffic in attention. It´s their primary asset.”

-Seth Godin (Business guru)

And in life:

 “Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

-The source of this quote is disputed but I heard it in the movie about Margaret Thatcher (Iron Lady) and loved it.

And in writing:

“The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome indescribably magnificent world in itself.”

-Henry Miller

Okay, Henry Miller had a flare for the dramatic, however, being an expatriate writer himself, he knows what he’s talking about. The areas where we invest attention blossom. The new culture you’re living in doesn’t really begin to come alive, until you focus your attention on it. Through attention comes knowledge and understanding. And let’s face it, living in a new culture that you don’t understand is pure misery.

But attention requires discipline. No one has had a harder time with this than I.

Last Christmas I was walking on a beach with my best friend of twenty years. She’s a psychologist and she was saying how when we were in high-school everybody was getting diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, and that it was ridiculous, and that really only a very small percentage of the population actually has it.

Excited, I asked her, “Really? Do you think I was misdiagnosed?”

And she said, “No, Emily, you definitely have it. I mean you don’t even finish your sentences sometimes.”

But still, even I have managed to become quite functional in the world through the conscious harnessing of ATTENTION. First you just need to capture your own attention, and then you can capture the attention of the world.

Toward those ends, I’ve found some websites that, rather than distracting us, help us focus. Here are my top 3:

1. Rescue Time  Do you really know where your time is going? I mean REALLY? Rescue Time hooks you up with the answer by tracking exactly how much time you spend and where you spend it online. Once you have an honest idea where your attention is being spent, you can get it back under control.

2. Think Clearly This innovative site is creating a movement to bring us back to the oldest trick in the book. Writing things down. I am an avid proponent myself. The simple act of scratching an idea onto paper makes it more real and this site specializes in getting your mind onto the blank page.

3. Headspace  It does your brain a lot of good to focus your attention on attention itself. That’s right meditation.  This site has specialized meditations based on the regular things you do in your life. It helps you do everything you normally do BETTER through mindfulness. Or in other words, attention.

This is by no means a definitive list. If you have other attention practices that work for you, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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