I can be such a scatterbrain. My mind will wander, my thoughts will race, I’ll forget where I set my keys when they’re right in my hand. I have these and also every single other classic example of a short attention span, including the fact that I have gotten distracted 47 times already during the course of writing this one single paragraph.
Ugh! That’s not what I want. I want a nice, long, perfect attention span that allows me to perform my tasks wonderfully and exceed every goal I set for myself…
…Too bad literally nothing works out the way I want and also I am going to die one day.
Jokes! (I’m testing the temperature of the humor of my readers.)
Anyway, lately I’ve been really wanting to work on my attention span/focus/concentration. I feel it’s an area that I can afford great improvements in and I’m curious to see how those improvements might affect my life.
After reading a few articles (links below), here are some basic tips I found on improving attention span.
1. Reduce distractions.
This means limiting use of technology while studying/working on a project (sometimes I’m not great with this one, but it’s most helpful when I absolutely cut myself off. For me, that means writing at a cafe but not turning on wi-fi, or putting my phone on airplane mode so I can’t hear the pings or be tempted to check social media.) It also means avoiding menial tasks, phone chats with gabby friends, or whatever else you may be doing to avoid doing what you really need to be doing (only you know your weaknesses! Home in!)
2. Jot it down!
YES to this one. It helps me out so much. Carry a little notepad and pen/pencil with you (keep it small so it fits easily into most compartments/bags/large pockets) exclusively for your random thoughts. As they come up, you can jot them down and get them out of your system so they don’t continue to cycle in you loop of thoughts.
3. Mindfulness meditation.
You can either get on board now with meditation or be way behind the times. It really is a movement and I think it’s one for a reason. If the word “meditation” makes you think of standing cliffside with a contrived serene look on your face while you spoon hemp seed into your mouth, avoid the term and use a replacement one like “thoughtfulness” or “contemplation”. Terms aside, taking a few moments to be present and check-in with how you’re feeling and the speed your mind is operating at can work wonders for your focus. You can essentially see “what you’re working with” and then work from there.
4. Have a cup of joe!
There’s so much information out there about caffeine and its positives/negatives for you. I happen to be an anxious person who LOVES coffee, so figuring out the right relationship with it is something I’ve been working on for a while. The fact that caffeine helps with focus is a great argument in favor of coffee and one that I will always keep in my back pocket. Perhaps if you’re anxious, keep the coffee to a small like I’ll be trying to do. (Trying.)
5. A good environment
If it’s within your control, make sure that your environment serves your focus. That means if a little chatter and ambience works for you, awesome – go to a cafe and get the thing done. If you need total silence, set yourself up for success by spending time alone in a quiet place. If music you like helps you, keep that playing in the background. The tricky aspect of having a good environment is that you need to know for sure what works best for your mental aptitude. If you don’t already know the answer, take a project of relatively low-urgency and try working on parts of it in different environments. Take note of when your mind and concentration feels best, when you do your best work, and when you feel happiest.
Let me know if you guys try any of the tips and which are your favorites. What would you say your current attention span is like? Are you able to focus pretty well or do you struggle? Are there certain subjects you’re able to focus on better than others?
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