Crisis of Concentration?! How I Deal with My Worst Distractions

DistractionsIt’s that time of the week again! Yes, it’s another post in the ‘blog’ category. These posts are some of my favorite to make, since they’re very spontaneous. I often don’t plan for them at all. OK, they’re not really once a week. It was a good first sentence, you know?

If the last few sentences, or various posts around the website, didn’t say it loud enough, I have the attention span of a squirrel. A squirrel on caffeine. I just can’t focus hard enough on things I’m supposed to do.

A lot of people blame it on ADHD, which I think is a pretty serious assumption. I actually think Ritalin is way overused. Not everyone has a disorder. I just find it hard to concentrate on a task. Still, in the end I get the job done.

Which leads me to the post. Since this is such a common problem in the online writing community, I decided to present my personal biggest distractions and how I prevail over them, staying productive in the process. Well come on, let’s get to it!

My iPhone (Obviously)


Smartphone Distraction
Maybe it’s not this bad…

Let’s just get this one out of the way. This is several distractions in one. Smart devices are really the cause of low attention spans for everyone these days. The average human attention span is now just 8 seconds!

My iPhone 5S is the source of countless wasted hours. I can’t go 10 minutes without texting. Or checking currency exchange rates and stock prices. Or checking Facebook. Actually, Facebook in itself is a distraction. I’ll do that one later.

When you have a device that does so many things, you’re gonna want to check it a lot. And by a lot, I mean every few minutes.  I personally spend a few minutes every few minutes. Welcome to the 2010s.

Smarphone Use
Obligatory pie chart. It’s pretty obvious people spend a lot of time on their phones.

You know how I end up using my phone so much? Because when I’m typing out a post, it’s right beside the keyboard. I literally keep it next to me. That’s not the best idea. So recently I’ve taken precautions like the one below.

I like to take advantage of another weakness of mine. I’m lazy enough not to get up after sitting down for a writing session. I put the phone the phone on silent, and toss it in another room. That way it’s not… right there.

It’s a pretty simple and clear-cut solution. I’m not a distraction guru or anything. But as simple as it is, I rarely see anyone implement it. Whether it’s an office computer job or working at home, those phones are just too close.

Melodious Misleader: Music


Like mostly every writer, I listen to music a lot. As much as I can. I like a huge variety of genres, but I lean towards Disney songs, or video game music, or show tunes/theme songs. A little character background facts there.

One of my favorite Disney songs, and songs in general, this is just way to catchy to focus with. I avoid it while writing.


Anyway, what a lot of people don’t know is that music can be harmful to writing concentration. Well, music with lyrics at least.

When I’m working out, or doing chores, all music works. Since I’m doing repetitive tasks that don’t need much focus, music makes working more entertaining, more efficient.

This is my favorite instrumental music. It’s no Pastoral, but it makes writing way more energetic.

But music with lyrics can really hurt a writer. The words get in my head, slowing me down. I try to keep them out, but it just means more concentration power used on doing that. So I’ve learned to avoid lyrics when writing. It makes focusing on the the topic way easier.

Dokkan Battle


Dokkan Battle
This game is productivity poison. But it’s still so fun!

A short entry here. It’s a Dragon Ball game, it’s on my phone, and it’s addictive. The ultimate time-waster. I should say I have a way to overcome this distraction, but I don’t. I would even play it for a lot longer if one aspect was removed…

The game itself limits how many levels you can play at a time. If you wanna do more than you can you gotta pay. And I don’t pay. It’s useful for me, but I guess it’s kinda sad at the same time.

Facebook


I suppose this goes hand in hand with the phone entry, but Facebook is everywhere. So it’s still a distraction on a PC, where most writing is done.

What can I say about Facebook that hasn’t been said already? It’s a time suck. I enter intending to read a notification and leave 45 minutes later. There’s just so much on it. Meme pages, news, stalking friends seeing what friends & family are up to.. content really is king!

I usually spend the most time on my news feed, but with Facebook adding new features like trending news stories, it makes it harder and harder to leave quickly.

Stay on Facebook
It’s pretty obvious Facebook wants you to stay where you are. Keep this in mind!

Speaking of leaving, did you know Facebook deliberately makes it so that you don’t leave? External links don’t have much organic reach because of this reality. Anything leading out of the site (or app) is demoted. In fact, if you use the app, you’ve probably noticed that links open inside Facebook, not your mobile browser. It’s a conspiracy!

Not really. Take off those tinfoil hats! The point of all this is that Facebook is made to waste your time. I don’t mean there’s something wrong with using it. I spend quite a bit of time on it every day. But I’ve taken steps to keep myself away from it while writing.

Namely I just turn off notifications, and removed my Facebook bookmark. My Facebookmark. Get it? My wordplay is unparalleled.

I wish I had a cool life hack or something, but I don’t. That’s really all I do, since most of time on FB is spent on the phone.

The Internet in General


Let’s take a trip back to the intro, way up there. You know how long it took me to write that intro? 40 minutes. 10 minutes of writing, and half an hour of browsing.

I tried to get the real attention span of a squirrel (no success, but a dogs’ is 2 minutes), learned about the causes of ADHD, found some new memes, and ended up watching an episode of “The Office.” American version, if you really wanna know. That’s how lost you can get when you’re distracted.

The internet is so varied you can spend hours on it without getting bored. That’s what makes it so dangerous. I eventually catch myself a few minutes in, but sometimes I totally forget what I’m supposed to be doing.

Here what I do. I activate the ‘distraction free’ mode on my word processor first. Anywhere you do your writing has a mode like this. Except paper, of course. Then I close all tabs and extra windows. Then I shut off the computer.

Maybe not that last part. But distraction-free and closing everything really go a long way. I also try to keep the mouse away. Then it’s just me and the keyboard. Keeping to these criteria has helped me train my field of vision on the writing.

Heightened Focus!!! No More Distractions


Those are just the worst of my distractions. I have a lot more that don’t deserve the hyperbole. Maybe they’ll be the subject of a future post.

Alexander Graham Bell
Mr.Bell invented the telephone. Some people think he stole it from Elisha Gray, but that’s false!

As with every post, there’s a lesson to be learned here: distractions can be really harmful to your productivity. You need to be more zen. And I sure hope someone notices my use of the word ‘zen.’

Thanks for reading! I hope you learned a thing or two. Or half. The important thing is, you learned something. It could be the dog fact, even. Not ideal, but workable.

Are my distractions really that bad? How do you deal with yours? Can you think of better ways than I did? Leave an answer in the comments below! Don’t be shy! We’re all mammals here!

Your companion in concentration,

-Makki

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20 thoughts on “Crisis of Concentration?! How I Deal with My Worst Distractions

  1. Really enjoyed reading your post. The thing I like most was when you talked about…Oh look a squirrel!! I have the same problem as you and get easily distracted. I like how you employed stats such as the attention span of dogs (since I run a blog about dogs, I found that particularly appealing) and I love it when people reference historical figures such as Alexander Graham Bell. Well done.

    1. Gee, that means a lot, Mike! I try to keep things varied, if not totally random. I’d love to see your blog sometime. Thanks for reading!

  2. Great stuff. Distractions, oh my gosh, they are everywhere. Actually now that I am in my 50’s I don’t have as many because I really don’t give a “zen” anymore. And squirrels, love the little critters. Love to ploink them with my pellet gun that is. Don’t worry, It doesn’t hurt them, it just sends them over to my neighbors house so they can eat the wires out their cars. Dealing with distractions. I have a little boat I take to a lake where few people go. It is very quiet, very peaceful. I go fishing for a couple of hours, it works. Oh did I say fishing, I meant casting because I never catch anything! Loved the post, hope you have a great day.

    1. Haha! I’d sure like to ploink one myself, when I get a pellet gun. Sounds like you have a great way to deal with distractions. I’m sure you’ll get a bite eventually Johnny! Thanks so much for reading!

  3. Thanks for the article with the useful tips about distractions while writing. Because I often write articles for my website, I also need to concentrate and my mobile has been the distraction too. But the music not so much, as I find that some kinds of peaceful meditation music, actually improve my concentration. Have you ever tried that?

    1. As the videos in the post show, I’m into manic, fast-paced music. So I haven’t really tried meditation before. I did mention that instrumental music is beneficial to writers, so there’s that. I will give the meditation a try, though. Thanks for the suggestion Sandy!

  4. Loved your post! You are witty and articulate both. I also have to admit that I am every bit as distracted as you are. I sitting in the upper percentages of the 46% who spend 2 or more hours on their smart phone, guilty, guilty, guilty! Facebook is another culprit of my time too as I get sucked in when I plan to just check in or make a quick post.

    Discipline is the key, yeah, that’s it, Discipline. We just need to discipline ourselves..hey wait, I bet I can go google a great quote on discipline to post to Facebook…

    1. Careful there! Yeah, we’re all getting more and more distracted by smart devices in recent times. Facebook, as you mentioned, is the #1 culprit. I try not to open the app at all. But eventually I do. I’m weak that way. Thanks for sharing Sue!

  5. I’m easily distracted too lol, and I totally get what you mean about being called ADHD when the average concentration span of humanity is 8 seconds long. Essentially we are all people with ADHDs.

    Jokes aside, it is good to have a longer concentration, I agree. It makes us more productive, and I believe that successful people are successful because they are able to concentrate on their goals for a longer period of time (namely, until they reach it) as compared to the rest of ‘us’ (those that give up before reaching the goals that we set for ourselves). There is no doubt that there are many other factors at play, but without determination, everything falls.

    1. Exactly! Spot on, Rachel! Concentration plays a big part in achieving goals. That’s actually what keeps me from totally losing focus. I know if I do, I’ll never fulfill my end goals. You’re absolutely right: determination is key.

  6. Wonderfully done. I thought it was definitely the ADHD also, but apparently distractions are a common problem for everyone. I’m going to have to take this advice, especially the one about Word processor. It’s good to use Notepad as a template as well.

    1. Notepad is obviously a great distraction free place, but for me it’s just too bland to handle. I need some color or… atmosphere. And yeah, ADHD is very often used as a synonym for distraction, when it’s really not. Thanks Derrick!

  7. Hi there,

    I just have to say I loved this post!! Because it’s so similar to what I experience!!! 🙂

    You’ve definitely given me some idea on a new blog post for my own website! My distractions and how I handle them 😉 So thank you for that.

    I also agree when you say they diagnose someone to soon with ADHD or another disorder.
    I’ve made my thesis about this subject actually.

    I’m a highly sensitive person, which is a characteristic and means it has quality’s and difficulty’s. One of them isn’t to be able to concentrate much…

    Thank you for sharing this amusing post!
    Rian

    1. Happy to see I’ve provided some inspiration! I think ADHD is way too misdiagnosed. People should accept they’re not very focused. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Rian!

  8. The thing with distraction is that it is … well, distracting … 🙂 When I first started working from home, distraction was my biggest fear. However, I found that by ‘regimenting’ my working day (i.e. doing specific things at very specific times) I was less distracted by things such as social media, phones, music. etc. It even includes having lunch at the same time each day, have tea breaks at roughly the same time of day, etc. It works well for me.

    1. Having a routine is a great way to fend off distractions. I’ve tried setting one up, but it dissolves after a day or two. Still, it definitely works, just not for me. Glad to hear it worked out for you!

  9. The phone is definitely a distraction for me. Through the phone I can do everything else on your list! I often like to shut my phone off when I work so I don’t get distracted. Music can be good sometimes if you listen to the right ones. Although, I guess maybe not really music but if you listen to rain it actually has a calming effect and helps you concentrate. You can find ‘rain music’ on youtube. Give it a shot!

    1. I don’t really shut it off, because I know I’ll just turn it on again. Rain music sounds like a good idea, Matt. I haven’t considered it before. I should give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion!

  10. Excellent post here, I really enjoyed your writing style. I could almost sense your inner squirrel.

    Boy are you ever right though about the phones these days. Every time I get a notification I just have that urge to see what it is. Even if I recognize the notification to be from something that shouldn’t be important at the time, I still have that desire to check it.

    Just last night I got frustrated with the auto correct on my phone once again and after it refused to listen to me I tossed it to the ground. Unfortunately it decided to slide once it hit and somehow managed to fit perfect through the deck railing and fall to the patio below. Now the screen is all cracked up and I don’t mean laughing either. Regardless I almost felt relieved to see it in that shape, hoping that it will help keep it from distracting me.

    1. Sorry to hear about your cracked screen. I know the feeling of having to check my phone a lot, but your story makes me extra cautious! I’ve been frustrated before, but never to the point of tossing it. I try to be sure to treat electronics well, even if they deserve a thrashing. Regardless, at least the damage done will help to keep your mind off it. Thanks for the fitting story James!

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