Treat Your Attention Like an Arcade Game

Completing a large task is like playing an arcade game: it takes all your concentration. As soon as you pause the game and leave, your chances of getting a high score practically disappear.

On his blog, Cal Newport describes that focusing on a task is like playing an arcade game. Your mind is focused on what you are playing and trying to think ahead so as not to lose. But if you pause the game for a moment and walk away from it, you are more likely to fail when you return. Why? Your mind now carries the ” remaining attention ” of what distracted you from the game, and your cognitive performance is now suffering.

The same thing happens when you focus on a productive task and let your attention be diverted to something else – be it email, coworkers, or your phone. Even the shortest breaks take you out of the zone and require your mind to slowly return to the focus you had before the break. As Newport explains, if you constantly allow your attention to switch focus every 10-15 minutes, you enter a persistent state of voluntary cognitive decline. So, just like in a hardcore arcade game, get down to the task that needs to be completed and don’t leave the car. Otherwise, you will continue to lose and run out of stock very quickly.

A Performance Lesson From A Classic Arcade Game | Cal Newport

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