Creativity requires sustained focus. Whether you’re working alone or in a group, you need the ability to pay attention. Paying attention is an apt phrase, because it costs something to focus. You pay the price in psychic energy. Most of us can focus on a difficult task for a few seconds or a few minutes, but it’s real work to stay in the game much longer than that. Our minds tend to wander, looking for an escape. We can almost feel our brain squirming in its seat.

Difficulty focusing isn’t new, but our attention spans are getting shorter as the pace of life speeds up. This is the trap of today’s “always on” culture. If we’re ...

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