With Such Poverty of Attention, how do you read books with focus?

FocusEconomics is the study of how scarce resources are allocated; whether that is housing, food, or money. However, in an era of endless amounts of information at the hands of our fingertips, what is the scarcity? Unlike the first three examples that can be empirically quantified and measured, our intangible yet extremely valuable attention is the limiting factor: we are in the age of the attention economy.
The term “attention economy” was coined by psychologist, economist, and Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon, who posited that attention was the “bottleneck of human thought” that limits both what we can perceive in stimulating environments and what we can do. He also noted that “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention,” suggesting that multitasking is a myth.
Paying Attention: The Attention Economy

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We live in an era of a specific challenge that is only getting worse: a serious shortage of serious attention; a shortage of serious focus, of undivided concentration. And with such a shortage, there is a shortage of genuine learning.

We all know of the value of being a life-long learner.  But if you can’t be a life-long focuser, a life-long concentrator, then you won’t be a very good life-long learner, will you?

Time for a reality check…

How many books do you read, with enough attention and focus, that you actually learn from the books? I mean, with enough focus that you learn the information in the book, that you can remember it well enough that you can think about the book, ponder the teachings of the book, over the days following your reading?  Well enough that you can put the wisdom of the book into practice in your work-life and in the other parts of your life?

distracted-reading-mainMy hunch is that your attention is pretty divided.  We are so bombarded by information – newspapers, magazines, articles, podcasts, broadcasts, books — that shutting everything out except for the one object of focus at this moment is practically a lost skill.

I think about this as I present my book synopses.  People who attend my events tell me that they did not quite understand the value until they experienced the session.

What do I provide?  I help people pay attention!

I choose good books; important books.  And I have developed a synopsis approach – both verbally, and in my synopsis handouts – that helps people hone in on the useful and essential wisdom found in the books I present.

These days, my synopses are delivered over Zoom or Webex.  And, these days, participants have to print out the handouts that I prepare and provide.  But the experience of learning is rich.  And, I think, my synopses help people focus, in order to capture thoughts that stick long after the presentation is completed.

You have to fight to focus. You might need some help to help you do that.  I can help.

If nothing else, attending my events will help you put everything down and away except the one thing of the moment; this particular book synopsis. And you might focus your attention long enough to learn; and remember; and change.

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My synopses handouts are 8-11 pages of content.  They provide a pretty deep dive into the book.  What do I include in my handouts?

  • the point of the book
  • reasons why the book is worth your time
  • the best highlighted passages from the book
  • the stories, principles, and lessons, that make the book so valuable
  • my lessons and takeaways from the book

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Note: the First Friday Book Synopsis always meets on the first Friday of the month.  Our Zoom sessions begin at 7:30am.  And the details, and book selections, of next month’s gathering are always on this blog.   We are in our 22nd year of our monthly gatherings.

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My synopses are available for purchase. Click on the buy synopses tab at the top of the page to search by title. Or, click here for our newest additions.

 

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