Why do I need a cure for being perpetually "unfocused," you might ask? Well.....as it happened, over the the last decade (give or take a decade or two) my ability to stay on task from "starting something" until I reach "finished something." seems to be more and more difficult. In most instances there has to actually be a deadline involved or I tend to wander off course. It actually boils down to "the things that have to be done, GET DONE. The things that are optional, may or may not get done in a timely manner. Those tasks probably require multiple breaks.
It would appear that I am not the only one on the planet that has lost the ability to stay focused. Even before
I tracked down the article that the acquaintance mentioned, I happened upon a different article in the Kansas City Star written by a free-lance columnist on this very subject.
The columnist, Denise Snodell, said she has noticed her attention span getting noticeably shorter now that one child is away at college and the other is preparing to leave for school. According to her article, the calendar on her fridge that once was jam packed with household hieroglyphics, now more closely resembles a snow field in Nebraska. Her point being that she felt akin to Sandra Bullock in the movie Gravity. She is so untethered now that she isn't participating in constant activities and obligations with her kids, she doesn't know what to do with her extra time.
While often I have heard people blame this lack of focus on the aging process...perhaps it has less to do with our chronological years and has more to do with our unstructured time. Yes, by all means let's blame something other than age.
Thought Number One: Technology Has Changed How We Use Our Time and How We View Our Time
|Anything over 5 minutes is just too long.|
Let's start with speed. No... not the movie Speed (that was a waste of time)...or the drug "speed" (that would alter our perception of time) ...oops sorry...lost focus.....I am talking about the ACTUAL rate of movement.
When I was a mother of younger children, it was B.C. Seriously, do I need to explain that means BEFORE COMPUTERS! Nearly anything you can think of that required action, took longer than it does today. No smart phones, no Internet, and no DVRs. I seems shocking now but we actually had to get up and move if we needed to interact with someone or something.
For me, the first thing that comes to mind that had a huge impact on shifting time, was the microwave oven. Up until about 1976 or so, I cooked our food in a regular oven. Let's say for example, the time committment it would of taken in the mid-1970s to bake a potato. It would have taken an hour for that potato to be done which also allowed me to prepare other things like an entree and dessert. (ah the good ole days, huh hubby?) BUT THEN ...along came my shiny new Amana Radarange. WOW..baked potatoes in 12 minutes...how could they possibly be done already?
That change in speed, changed my perspective on how long I needed to allow to prepare a meal. In theory, instead of needing an hour to make dinner, I didn't need to start preparing anything until 15 minutes before meal time. As you might imagine, the quality of the rest of the meal might of suffered a tad with the new speedy meal prep but hey, progress is progress.
Same goes for that early dial-up Internet connection. In the early 1990's we bought our second computer, a Apple IIe. I thought it was magical. So what if it took awhile to connect? The sheer joy that went with that sound of connecting to the Internet was music to one's ears.
From the awesome beeps and whirrs of signing on you could go to
this in less than 20 minutes.
|downloads took a time commitment|
A minute is still a minute, an hour is still an hour but why is our perception of time so skewed?
|Our perception of time might have to do with our enjoyment of what we are doing.|
Could it be that as our technology sped up, our PERCEPTION of time also changed?
Thought Number Two: The Price of Preoccupation
As our technology freed up some of our time, it also provided a huge opportunity to take all that free time back.
If you are anything like me, you now find yourself saying...fairly often..phrases like
"Where was I?"
"What did I come in here for?"
"Sorry, what did you say?"
"I feel like I am forgetting something."
Or As I was saying... let's go back to the O magazine article. [link] I looked it up online to see what the 5 "no-fail" ways to keep me focused.
It turns out that it is a rather lengthy article so you do have to focus to get through it. The author, Martha Beck, refers to all of us distracted multitaskers as flaky and has 5 suggestions on how to make us less flaky.
Time (ironic, heh?) and space keeps me from giving you her whole thought process but the 5 points of the O Magazines "no fail" plan to resolve our lack of focus:
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