Concentration (lack of)

One of my faults (and you thought I had none?  I know, surprising, isn’t it?), along with procrastination, is a complete lack of concentration.  Reading, writing, thinking, watching TV; my mind just wanders off and I start thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner, work, the weekend, anything except concentrate on what I’m doing.  Sit next to me watching the TV and ask me something about what just happened, and although it’ll look like I’m staring goggle-eyed at the goggle-box, I’ll likely say “um… oh, I didn’t see … sorry” like a complete fuckwit.

This afternoon, I thought I’d start going through the BRB to get a feel for it, as A215 starts for real in a bit over a week.  Eek.  Not one word went in without re-reading each paragraph about 20 times.  It’s not that it’s hard to understand or written in long words, it’s just me.  Admittedly, I wasn’t helped by having one ear listening out for a potential house purchaser to come round to view the house but it’s not just today, it’s every day.  A215 is looming and how will I learn anything if I can’t absorb anything?

Anyone got any techniques or books on concentration they can recommend?

6 Comments

  1. I’m EXACTLY the same! Completely.

    That is the main reason I’m worried about this course: even things I am interested in, like creative writing, fail to hold my concentration for long enough for me to finish anything – I wander off, open a new internet site, start thinking of something else… it really worries me. I’m always doing about 15 things all at once, and swapping in between each one.

    Perhaps you and I can think of ways to help each other by exchanging potential tips on how to concentrate?

    I was reading something about time management the other day, and it said that you can set yourself mini-goals… like “I’ll concentrate on this for 15 minutes and then have a three minute break” and so on. That might help.

    The other suggestion, which I don’t think applies in every case, was that getting easily distracted can have a lot to do with anxiety. I.e. if you’re worried about completing something or the task feels too big, you’re more likely to get distracted and let things pile on top of you more. The suggestion with this was to break each task down into smaller tasks to make it seem more managable. Another suggestion along this vein could be to clear your desk – the clutter might be getting you down.

    Hope that helps! Please share any tips you have also 🙂


  2. I’m glad it’s not just me! I’m going to need to be strict and switch off my email, Facebook, Twitter, the A215 forums, etc. and exercise a bit of discipline. It doesn’t help though that I’m a web designer and obviously need the internet and I also work from home so don’t have anyone breathing down my neck making sure I’m working (which is another thing I find hard to concentrate on and get done).

  3. Hi, I’m doing A215 as well, and I have exactly the same problem with concentration–I think it’s my age! I find myself having to reread paragraphs several times because I get to the end of one and realise I haven’t taken in a single word.

    So far, the thing that works for me is slapping myself on the forehead and reading aloud until I get into the swing of things. Underlining/highlighting also helps, as does jotting down a note or two as I go. I like the above suggestion of breaking each task down into smaller tasks to make it seem more manageable. I do get panicky when I feel I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but competing a few bite-sized tasks does increase my confidence, and helps me to become more productive. I also find that setting time limits for procrastination tasks helps. For example, I allow myself ten minutes to answer emails, or hang out the washing, and when that ten minutes is up I get down to work and focus–I even use my kitchen timer! Rewards are good too. I’ll tell myself that I can have a cup of tea when I’ve read a certain amount or finished an activity. I try to avoid rewarding myself with chocolate as my backside is far too big already…

    All the best!

  4. Ooh kitchen timer sounds like a good idea. And rewards.

    A tutor when I was at college once suggested reading with a pen in your hand, even if you’re not going to take notes. She said it focused your mind a bit more.

  5. Headslapping Thank You Natalie!
    I now have a wonderful image of many of us all at home slapping our heads and getting on with it, fabulous image and the humour helps me concentrate! Thank you.Vx

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