FOMO Should Really Mean Fear Of Mind Overload
Our brains are amazing. They control our bodily functions. They recall past events. They provide us with lucid dreams while we sleep or nap.
But our brains are also annoying. They never shut off! They continually crave new information, data, and experiences to process. In today’s world, they also cannot seem to go a dozen minutes without needing to check email, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Remarkably, research studies have shown that the average person accesses their mobile phone up to 110 times a day (you can now blame your brain’s persistent need for new information to process for this incessant craving).
The popular acronym FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. I sincerely suggest it should really be a warning of Fear of Mind Overload. All that fear of missing out on something, even something trivial or minor like where a friend is eating lunch, is definitely causing our minds and brains to be overloaded.
Fortunately, we can change our ability to focus by changing our behavior. And it is easier than you might think. However, it does require immense dedication and fortitude.
The key is to purposefully put away anything that might distract you during periods when focus is paramount. For instance, when I am writing a draft of a book I will set my mobile phone to airplane mode. This prevents me from being distracted by any electronic notifications, incoming phone calls, or new text messages. For the remainder of the time when I am writing, nothing is more important than that draft. This process prevents the urgent from also getting in the way of what’s important.
After three to four hours of focused writing, I will then turn off airplane mode to check messages and email. The urgent ones will be responded to immediately at that time. The others can wait until later in the day when the draft of this chapter is completed. And each time I sit down to write I will implement this same process again.
Since I do need to maintain regular, on-going contact with the outside world (such as my clients), despite being in what I call “writing mode,” I simply batch all email, text messaging, and social media interactions into designated blocks of time when I need some respite from writing. Knowing myself well, I know that these blocks of time will take place every three to four hours, depending on how the writing is progressing.
Likewise, I try to arrange for all scheduled phone conversations and conference calls to take place on one single day during the week. Non-urgent email replies and other tasks, such as paying bills and grocery shopping, will also take place on that day. By grouping all these activities into the same day, that day becomes my scheduled non-writing day for the week. This also gives my brain a one-day break from focusing on the content of this book, a kind of “day at the beach” for my own busy brain.
It is important to put aside the Fear of Missing Out, since not doing so results in a Fear of Brain Overload. The brain is truly amazing. And the better we take care of our brains, the more amazing they will be.
What other tips do you have for removing distractions so that your brain can fully focus on a task at hand? Please share these in the comments box below.
This article is partially excerpted from my recent book Better Decisions Better Thinking Better Outcomes: How to go from Mind Full to Mindful Leadership, available on Amazon in both paperback ($18.88) and Kindle ($7.88) formats. (Note: prices increase on February 4, 2019)