The Fight to Concentrate

We’re a generation all too familiar with instant gratification and of living deep in the delusion of being multitasking phenoms. We’re one of shiny new phones with apps that buzz, ping and glow to announce all manner of distraction. One with a surplus of ‘friends’, ‘followers’ and pressures we create for yourselves out of comparison and self-consciousness.

All the makings of a complex.

We’ve bred ADD and ADHD into ourselves and those to come – an evolutionary adaptation at the whim of technology and modern convenience. Food is a click away, communication quite literally at our fingertips at all hours of the day. Need anything and the internet will answer in access. And if that’s not enough to tempt distraction, we’ve also piled on all our own self deprecating insecurities, the skepticism of older generations and stocked and lit our own fires for aspiring to create something impactful in the world. So it’s no wonder concentration comes and goes so unsparingly. It’s not an easy task to hone in on one thing, to live in a single moment and exercise patience in the times that seem most chaotic.

That said, there are still ways to boost that attention span and give yourself a much-needed break from overwhelming stimuli.

Change It Up

Really as straight forward as it sounds. Move, switch physical locations, relocate. It’s easy to find comfort in the familiar – procrastination in the ‘must-dos’. If you notice you’re efficiently tackling everything but your work, try putting some space between you and all those convenient chores. Concentration comes sometimes by pure force of having nothing else to do.

Try It Out Loud 

Whether reading, writing or buckling under the weight of a work problem, try talking to yourself. Be weird. Embrace the void.

Speak. Literally. Open your mouth and say things. Read it out loud, talk it through. Kicking the threat of a wandering thought quite ably out of your head. It’s bulldozing the inner wayward slips of concentration and making it tactile – or ya know, audible. You trap yourself into committing to whatever you’re throwing out into the world and sometimes that’s the best way to one-up elusive concentration. By being louder than it.

Turn It All OFF

Airplane mode. No music. No tv. No WIFI! Bold, right? But I swear when I’m working on a deadline, this method is one for the books! You won’t believe how freely writing flows, how effortlessly a book shortens with each turned page. It’s not for the faint of heart. There’s a moment of apprehension, a quiet addictive pull that sparks anxiety with some, but if you can commit, take the plunge and press ‘off.’ You won’t regret it. The notifications will all pile in regardless, so let future you deal with those. Limit the buzz, hum and beep of temptation.

Routine

Time management, also known in the bizz as the Pomodoro Technique is a popular move for writers everywhere. It’s a program of time blocking. 25 minutes to dedicate to a task, a 3-5 minute break when the alarm sounds, back into it for another 25 minutes and then follow it up with a longer 15-30 minute break. The greatest things in life are balanced. This technique affords a breather from the exhaustions of concentration while still being regimented and efficient.

Break It Down

Big task? Intimidating up close? Cue procrastination. There’s nothing concentration dislikes more than a looming project. So take a few steps back. From a distance, even the most demanding task can be looked at objectively and broken down into smaller segments. Not only will you feel less overwhelmed, but you’ll also get the benefits of accomplishment in closer succession making you more reward-motivated. And I don’t know about you, but that reward donut trumps distraction every time.

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