Teaching my brain how to focus

Instead of constantly bitching about the shiny object syndrome that hampers nearly everyone’s ability to focus, I decided to actively try and do something about it.

I had already stopped obsessively reading my twitter timeline daily (yes, I stupidly used to actually try and do that. And? I sadly DID for a long time). I had everyone organized into lists so I simply started using those more effectively which mean perhaps keeping my eye on the Media list during the day but only checking in on other time lines first thing in the morning or after dinner. But on the weekends I was still being drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

Same with Facebook. I was never quite as addicted as I was to Twitter, but I was still in there a lot and reading certain Close Friend lists constantly and posting and commenting quite a lot.

My Google Reader feed with all the blogs I follow? Checked it and opened/read/skimmed nearly every damn post. Which is insane because I subscribe to 75 blogs. I know that’s actually not a LOT compared to some, but really…75!!

Then I started to up my writing – both for fun and for work and..I know..this will shock you – I discovered that I couldn’t get started. A lot! I wouldn’t call it writer’s block at all. It was more like, information overload where I had taken in SO MUCH at once that I didn’t know how to unjumble the words.

I mean, in reality, I was doing a LOT of skimming. It was incredibly rare for me to click on a link from Twitter or Facebook and then read the WHOLE article shared. Same with those blog posts in my Reader. Skimmed. Nearly every time. Unless it was full of cat pictures. THOSE I read top to bottom 🙂 But commenting on any of the sites? Oh hardly ever since, well, I hadn’t really ABSORBED whatever lovely things had been written.

And as someone who thinks likes and follows are cool, but that comments on a post are GOLDEN, well…I wasn’t exactly playing the game correctly myself was I?

So, I said STOP.

What is quite funny is that right after my own internal clock setting off that alarm, I just happened to get a link to a most on What Multitasking Does To Our Brains. And I read it. All of it. In one sitting. And I nodded. A lot. In the advice on how to bring yourself back to focusing it hit upon some of the techniques I started doing.

I closed my browser tabs to all social media UNLESS I was in a space when Twitter & Facebook were OK to peruse. This also meant moving my phone out of my sight and reach and even turning it face down.

I listen to music more which does work for me.

I’ve gone back to the tried and true routine of making lists on paper. I’ve got a little notebook I carry around with a weekly task list for web content writing or promotion. I’ve got another one at my day job with a list of weekly tasks. I’ve found the process of physically holding pen to paper to jot down my ideas/notes/inspirations gained is critical to cementing them in my brain in a more organized fashion so that when I have to tap into one of them to create a post or even re-design a spreadsheet at work, the thoughts flow out much more freely.

I allow myself NOT to read things entirely. If I know I only have time to skim my Reader? Then I check the list, see if a title or an author grabs my eye and if not, then “Mark as Read” is hit and I close the tab. If I see something I want to read, then I READ IT. Depending on how much time I have allotted in that moment, I might read 2 or 3. But I READ THEM. And I try to leave a comment on anything that drew me in long enough to do that.

When I have the time at the end of the night to perhaps catch up on twitter, half the time I pick up a book instead. The goal there is to focus on something more than 140 character bursts. Again, it’s like that helps my brain keep the information going in more organized.

I also save more tweets to go back and click on links later if I know I will want to READ them.

And I have to say that it’s been so much more relaxing this way!

When I want to write, it’s no big deal to get going. Words flow, I can stick with it to the end and when I hit post I feel a lot better about what I’ve written.

At work, I am back to starting and FINISHING tasks in one sitting without those “Squirrel!” moments catching my eye. Amazingly enough, the workday goes by a lot faster as a result!

And all of THAT relaxes me so that I can respond to the needs of the other two people in the house AND also carve out time to run much more easily.

So yes, I would certainly have to say that multitasking was not working for me at all. Practicing mindful focus is much much healthier and more productive.

What do YOU do to keep your focus?

4 thoughts on “Teaching my brain how to focus

Add yours

  1. I can relate! I am too scattered and distracted from multi-tasking. The other day I was cutting up a banana for my cereal while talking on the phone, and realized that I had cut it up directly into the garbage can! Since then I’ve tried to slow down and focus on the task at hand!


    1. Hah! That’s too funny. My son recently poured soup into a bowl to put in the microwave…opened the ‘fridge to get juice…and put the bowl in there instead! Of course, he didn’t have the multi-tasking excuse – that was just classic always too tired teen brain drain :->


  2. Is it really multi-tasking, or being somewhere else all the time, or even not being at all. yes it does not make sense, but this is when you become those events (activities) which you expect from yourself, or believe are expected from you. Not being is that state, and I get there all the time.


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