Cartoon ” Goodnight Smartphone”, from The New Yorker

People always say that things move very fast in Asia. Living outside of Asia after all these years, my “back to home” experience proves this statement to be true.

In most meetings (even some personal meetings), people expect you to express your ideas in a few words or sentences. If you’re not able to send the right message to someone else’s mind, the other party may interrupt you and stop listening. Sending/replying to emails and messages needs to be done fast, where you almost feel imposed to excuse yourself from your meetings and respond right away. Time is precious; people just can’t wait. Thus, patience as a virtue has somewhat lost its meaning in this day and age.

In a fast-paced society, we focus on productivity and efficiency. Speed is a very important element. Being fast is the golden rule. However, contrary to the time-bound communication style, making connections is a slow process. Almost every work requires human interactions, and it takes a lot of time to build and develop real connections with others.

When to go fast and when to slow down?

In a digital world, we seem to be losing the key ingredient to our health, happiness and success: the human connection. Everything is always go, go, go. We don’t take the time to see the people in front of us and get to know them. We’re usually overwhelmed by all kinds of distractions: instant messages, social media, interruptions …

We have to manage our time better to get things done quickly. We may also give ourselves permission to slow down regularly to think and savor life. In fact, focusing on a few important things one at a time is much more important than doing everything fast. The combination of Fast & Slow creates healthy and great individuals.

To improve your focus, here are some quick tips:

Delete apps on your phone that you haven’t used for a while or never used

– Set an alarm time to put down your phone and go to bed

– Set email check frequency (2 times per day is recommended) and try to deal with your mails in batches

– Stop endless online chats and schedule face-to-face meetings with friends, families and colleagues

As the psychiatrist Livingstone once said, “The real secret to a happy life is selective attention. If you choose to focus your time and energy on things and people that bring you pleasure and satisfaction, you have a very good chance of being happy in a world full of unhappiness, uncertainty, and fear.”

Best Books about focus and making connections :

Hyperfocus : How to be more productive in a world of distraction by Chris Bailey

When: The scientific secrets of perfect timing by Daniel H. Pink

We need to talk : How to have conversations that matter by Celeste Headlee

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