I’ve struggled with my attention span and general sense of focus for a very long time, and being stuck at home all day rotating between four screens (TV, phone, work computer, personal computer) has not helped my case. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that some Tik Toks feel impossible to get through. In the two minutes that I’ve been typing out this blog post, I’ve thought about grabbing my phone twice.
I know that this lack of focus is in part a side effect of circumstances: modern life, my job especially, requires me to be constantly online and multitasking. I’m expected to be a jack of all trades at work, so I’m constantly context-switching. And we’re somewhere in the middle of a pandemic that shows no sign of letting up.
All this is true, which makes me worry that I’m doomed for a life of abandoning interesting articles halfway through because something more interesting, urgent, or pressing catches my eye, of starting and stopping Coursera classes that could be genuinely fulfilling.
Achieving the level of focus I want isn’t just going to happen. It’ll be the result of consciously making small decisions – fighting the urge to pick up my phone when I’m watching a show, scheduling time to complete Coursera coursework, and slowly disarming my instinct to abandon a longread that seemed interesting but I just couldn’t follow through.
One strategy for focusing comes from an article I read in Man Repeller a few years ago (linked below). In the piece, the writer talked about how her boyfriend dedicates time and thought to the writers, musicians, and filmmakers he admires, and makes the decision to do the same. While my approach is going to be a little different (I think – I haven’t figured it out yet), I have the same goals. I want to be more focused and deliberate with what I consume, and frame the content I consume in a holistic, contextualized way. I also want to be able to communicate it better than I’m doing now.
I’m using this post to hold myself accountable. In the next two weeks, I’d like to figure out a plan for myself that ensures that I’m consciously consuming content, and allowing myself to process it and generate my own opinions on it… Without making myself crazy.
If you are reading it and have or had similar goals, I’d love to hear about the ways in which you have found focus with what you consume. Or if you’re like me and fall into the same patterns of watching Parks & Rec, The Office, Happy Endings, and Shark Tank on a loop, how you manage to break those patterns up and watch something new.
Much love, xoxo.
Recommended Reading: I Think I Figured Out Why My Brain Always Feels Fried, Haley Nahman for Man Repeller