Life can be considered as the study of attention. Your life grows towards the stuffs you put your attention the most. Chances are high that you are now in a career for which as a child you put most attention to no matter whether the subject was in your course curriculum or not. Same thing applies for relationships. Chances are high that you are now with the person you gave most attention to. Your life revolves around your major attentions. Decades of literatures on the topic of personal growth and self development, including different genre of mediations teach us how to control our attention to achieve our fullest human potentiality.
Now you may be wondering why I’m talking about attention and energy in a post titled ‘Developer Economy’? As a developer, your currency for growth and success in your life is your ability to control and channel your attention to learn and to solve real life hard problems. Attention is also needed to form inter personal relationships which will help you to build your team and work together to achieve more. As a developer we always look for efficiency in our work. The most successful and productive developer out there produces the best ‘return of energy’ when he or she focuses her total attention to a certain task. But if you are not careful enough, current world if ‘mass distraction’ is always out there to rob you from your energy, and attention. A developer who isn’t attentive with his work produces garbage and sometimes does more harm to the product than doing good in the long run. It applies for both technical tasks and also capacity to build successful productive teams.
As the job of attention is to focus your energy, to reach the level of hyper productivity and creativity, you first need to ensure that you have a high level of energy to start with. But there are carefully designed subtle energy leaks all around us. Energy leaks are both inside you, and also out there.
Let’s look inside us first – how are we robbing ourselves of our energy? It starts with negative thoughts and anger. Negative thoughts are major energy leaks and the stronger you get with your emotional intelligence the better you can handle negative thoughts in your life. Negative thoughts will be there, and they will constantly try to rob you from your energy – but it is your response ability towards those thoughts which will give you utmost control to protect yourself from them causing any energy leaks. You should also limit the channels using which negativity can start polluting your thoughts – like controlling your habit of checking social media in every hour, or checking on news headlines in every other hour.
Another major energy leak is anger. Uncontrolled anger causes a short circuit in your positive energy level and leaves you with a feeling of depleted and devastated. You need to learn to control your anger and channel it in a creative way so that it helps you increase your energy level, rather than depleting it.
There are people who will swear by the effectiveness and success of the power of goal setting and meditation in their lives. But if we try to simplify the process, doesn’t it all boil down to enhancing one’s ability to control his or her attention? Daily goal setting and personal mission statements are tools to keep someone on the track by bringing back his attention to the goals he has prioritized in his life. Visualization techniques in meditations also strengthens ones capacity to laser focus his attention to the events he wants in his life to unfold. Many of today’s trainings involves teaching mindfulness which is again another tool to enhance your attention so that you can bring your focus to present. You will find this pattern of enhancing someones level of attention in all the self development tools that many use in current world.
The power of attention applies to listening empathically too. Most leaders and managers who are successful have already mastered the art of listening empathically by focusing their attention to it. You may ask, what’s so special about listening, we all do it every day, right? Well think about speaking. We all speak everyday, but of course there is huge difference between someone speaking with colleague at the coffee corner, and a prolific speaker empower others with her speech. Same way listening is an art too, and you will only start realizing the power of listening when you start putting your attention to it.
As a developer, we are constantly connected to the rest of the world through our terminals. And this ‘rest of the world’ is on a constant battle to rob you from your attention, which in turn doesn’t allow you to channel your energy to focus on your goals. Few months back I was so overwhelmed with such distractions that I forced myself out of Facebook and other social medias (including news sites). It helped me – I was able to break my bad habit of constantly checking news feeds and my notifications. Now, as I moved back to using social medias, I’ve learned to use it only as a personal contact manager. I am still fighting not to let it make me a source of attention donor, but it is a battle that I’m winning by actively mastering my attention.
Attentions are needed to grow a habit. And once you have internalized a habit, it will be there with you for your lifetime – all you might need to do is just give a little push time to time to keep it rolling. As a developer, we need to constantly channel our attention to create positive habits which will lead us to reach our potentiality.
There are some tools which I use in my daily life to keep my attention in check on the stuffs which I want to work on daily. To start with, I want to mention about ‘Personal Kanban’. It is a way to sort and prioritize your personal tasks on a kanban board which ensures your todo list is sorted the same way a Product Backlog is sorted for a Scrum team. I also want to mention about the Pomodoro Technique which will help you to laser focus your efforts on the task you choose to do now.
If life is a journey your attention is how you put your control over it. The sooner you learn to master to channel your energy through attention, the quicker you will start enjoying the aftermaths of having mastery over your energy and life itself.