What Did Angel from Mayans M.C. Remind Me?

Sarah Deane: Founder MEvolution
5 min readMay 9, 2022

Hint: It’s to do with being present!

I like to watch shows to unwind. It’s true. My work can be intense. Whether it’s coaching people and teams to live life at maximum capacity, or analysis on vast amounts of data, it all requires high levels of focus. Therefore, a show that doesn’t require too much thinking works for me to switch off for a bit. The genre changes more frequently than the wind blows, but this time, I had an episode of Mayans M.C. on when I heard something that caught my attention. I rewound it and watched again as Angel Reyes (one the shows characters) said, “being in two places at one time, is a sure way to end up in neither.”

He was giving some advice to his brother, EZ Reyes, as they were about to embark on a task that required attention, but his brother was distracted. While their task could be described as life or death, it was a reminder that we can all benefit from remembering and can likely all apply to many daily situations. That meeting we are in, while trying to do emails or create a presentation. That time we are with our family, but not really paying them full attention. That thought that gets triggered while someone is talking, and we end up missing what they say next. The list goes on.

The reality is that distractions, and distractedness, are causing major problems for people. One 2021 survey found that employees experienced a distraction every 31 minutes, and that these distractions reduced productivity and impacted mental health. Another study estimated that, on average, 581 hours per person are being lost annually due to distractions (an equivalent of 28% of total working hours). This has a monetary equivalent estimated at $34,448 (€30,173) per person in lost productivity. With the impact of disruptions and distractions impacting wellbeing, performance, relationships and even the bottom line — it is something that affects both individuals and organizations.

As a solution to tending to all the demands on our time and energy, many resort to “multi-tasking”. Now, I am almost certain you will know this but, please humor me. When you think you are multitasking, in reality, your brain is switching between tasks (or focus) very rapidly. You are not actually doing both tasks at the same time. And there is a cost associated with this. To switch focal points your brain first must shift focus from one task to the other. Then, it also must “load up the rules” required to perform the new task. To do that it moves away from the rules (the “how-to guide”, so to speak) that the previous task required. This is known as goal-shifting and rule activation.

Now, this is not to say that you cannot listen to music while washing the dishes. When this becomes important, is when one or more of the tasks you are trying to switch between requires high attention. For example, reading an email and trying to talk to someone at the same time. These both require the same part of the brain, and therefore, the brain cannot handle both demands on attention at the same time. And, even when disparate parts of the brain are used, it has been found that neither task will have the brain’s full power.

This works both ways. For example, if your partner is reading something on their phone, and you are trying to talk to them, the chances are that they will not be fully listening. In this case, perhaps you may want to say, “are you free to talk?” Or wait until they can provide their attention. I can only imagine how many times this same scenario has led countless partners to that conversation of, “well I told you already…,” followed by, “umm no, you didn’t!?!” in response.

We are also able to ignore certain distractions. For example, we can tune out some background noise. And we can also see through the noise in some cases. For example, still hearing your name in a loud crowd.

So, here are a few things you can try to help you limit your distractions and increase how well you can focus. Of course, what you do and what will work for you will depend on the context of your role or life, and what is feasible for you!

Start training yourself in the art of focus.

Pick one activity to practice focus on. This could be eating or even washing the dishes. While doing the activity, notice various focal points in the present situation. For example, the taste of the food, how many bites you take, the feel of the water on your hand. You can try and engage your senses in the present. For example, what do you see, hear, and feel? If you find your attention being distracted by other thoughts, return to thinking about your focal points in the present moment.

Pick a duration for tasks.

Set some durations in which you focus on a task (or set of tasks) and do not check emails or have notifications on during that time if possible. For example, an hour to focus on a presentation you need to make, then check back in on emails. Time-boxing your tasks can help you retain focus for a set time. You could even start by just one day a week protecting a 2-hour window of when you know you have more focus — and reserve this for tasks requiring higher levels of attention.

Set email checking times.

Check emails at set times throughout the day. For example, I have three slots throughout the day. Morning, mid-day, and evening, and then, depending on context, I may have a quick check between tasks or meetings. In this case, the quick check is only to see if there is anything urgent. Anything not urgent can either be responded to, or left to respond in the set times, but, again, it depends on context. What works for you may be different, but you basically are removing email distractions from times when you need to focus.

Consciously remove distractions.

Try to remove the barriers to focus. For example, for at least one dinner a week with your family, do not have your phone out. Or, perhaps in meetings that require attention, do not have emails or other communication systems open.

Create space between tasks.

Schedule in space! Even if it’s 5-minutes between meetings, or 15-minutes between work and hanging out with your family, giving yourself space can lessen the likelihood that you will carry over thoughts of the previous task into the next one.

While in Angel and his brother’s case, it was life or death, it serves us well to remember that multi-tasking and distractions have a cost. In some cases, the time to switch can lead to critical errors which may very well also be life or death. But, at the very least, it can leave you fatigued, increase mistakes, make you feel less present to others (even if you are physically there), and reduce output (in both amount and quality). So, maybe, start with just one action. Just one, feasible action you can take to help remove some of the distractions from your day and increase your ability to focus.



Sarah Deane: Founder MEvolution

Energizing souls by relinquishing blockers, reclaiming mental capacity, restoring energy, and redefining human potential. www.JoinTheMEvolution.com