I’ve never been officially diagnosed, but I’ve long suspected that I had some type of ADD. In the book “Driven To Distraction”, I learned that ADD does not mean someone can’t focus, it just means that there brain is different. In the book, they describe the ADD brain as having a Ferrari engine and bicycle breaks. Boy oh boy do I get that.
As I’ve gotten older, and especially as I moved back to America, my attention span has gotten worse. I had a very different life in Denmark. I had a flip phone, I didn’t run a business. When I moved back to Charleston, the demand to start building a life here both as a entrepreneur and as an artist required me to mesh myself with technology. Lots of good comes from this, and lots of interruptions too.
Lately, I have been really struggling. Anything to do with people and I’m good. But sitting down to make flyers for a show or do office work for my business and its like I am holding my breath until I am done.
Genetics or brain aside, I know that there are things I can do to re-grow my focus so to speak so I’m working on that. This is what I have learned so far. Note: I am not expertly doing any of these things, but they are my new ideals and from what I have read, help a lot.
Do one thing at a time
Eliminate distractions in your environment
Do one thing at a time
We all think we can multi-task, and the truth is, we can’t. There may be some people who can, but from what I am reading, the people who think they are best at multi-tasking are the ones who are the worst at it. When we multi-task, we feel good, but it doesn’t mean we are getting lots of things done. Its like when you think of writing a thank you card that you don’t really have to. You think to yourself about how thoughtful you are, then you don’t do it and completely forget. How you feel is different from what you accomplish.
I do think there are things that pair well together. For me, I like to do complex things like writing or office work paired with relaxing things like ASMR videos or soundtrack music.
And I like to pair low level tasks like cleaning or manual labor with complex background things like audio books, rap or even TV.
I’m working on this right now, but so far, forcing myself to do just one thing from start to finish is really helpful.
2. Eliminate Distractions In Your Environment
When I teach my kids classes, I have to ask people on the sidelines every now and then to keep it down. This isn’t because I want to be rude or a control freak, actually, I hate doing it. But the reason I do it is because most children’s focus is a fragile thing. A kid walking in the room can pull the gaze of the entire class as if the circus just paraded down the street.
Our attention span is kind of like a class full of kids. When we do easy engaging stuff, focusing is a synch. When we learn complex skills like Jiu Jitsu, we need all the damn help we can get.
So eliminate distractions. Clean up, turn off your phone or set the notifications on silent. Put everything out of sight expect the things you need to accomplish what you are doing.
I know this to be true because there is a part of me that is micro depressed when I walk by undone tasks in my house. I have had that bottle of Goo Gone on my kitchen counter for 2 weeks now. I am no closer to using it on that spot in the carpet, and seeing it makes me sad. Better to put it away and do other things then come back to it. Don’t bottleneck your focus.
This is the one I am most interested in. Not because I want to mediate mind you. I am not looking for the truth, I am not even trying to be more gratful or mindful. But from what I’ve read meditating is like lifting weights for your concentration. The paradox is that focusing on nothing can help you later focus on anything. Right now I try to do 10 minutes a day. I go on youtube and look up 10 minute mediation and I sit in my floor or on my bed and I go for it. I want to build up to 20 minutes, we will see.
Distracted people are fascinating to me. Because they are working in some ways from a deficit. It would be like if you worked in one of those pursuit of Happiness type sales call boiler room jobs but your phone only has 20% juice to it. Well you best believe you are going to make way more calls in that 20% and be way more persuasive in that time than the other guys because you have to. But what if you could have your phone charged to 30%? How much could your life change with 10% more focus? How much better would your relationships or Jiu Jitsu or writing be?
I hope to find out, we will see :) I’m not opposed to taking some kind of medication, I know many motivated cool people who do. But part of me suspects that some of my problem is habitual and environmental. I’ll start here first and see where I get.