Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I need to concentrate…

Here’s a question for you… how do you gain/keep your concentration?

I have a very short attention span. I’m like Doug in ((squirrel)) the film “UP” ((squirrel)). If you haven’t seen the film… and you know you should have… Doug is a dog that talks… and is often distracted by movements and noises. When he is distracted he shouts “Squirrel”. That’s me.

Except the things that distract me aren’t squirrels… although if a squirrel were to appear in front of me whilst I was typing away… I do think it would distract me. No, the things that distract me are Texts... Tweets… Facebook comments… interesting design blog posts… games on "words with friends" and trying to find the perfect song that matches my present mood.

In essence, I am distracted by the “figital” nature of my iPhone4 and my iPods.

I also find instant messaging a distraction… and the ping of an email throws me off course too. Oh and don’t get me started with people… I’m a people person and consider it rude not to respond when I am asked a question.

Whilst the toys maybe new… and the questions are always varied… this isn’t a new occurrence for me – I’ve always had a poor attention span. I wish I could self-diagnose ADHD or something… but I can’t.

So here’s the thing… what do you do to aid your concentration?

I’ve found four things so far that help:
  1. Removing all “push” alerts on my iPhone4 or iPad. I keep the badges but not the pings. This helps. It means my electronic comfort-blankets are NOT ping, ping, pinging me all day long… demanding my attention. I go to them when I want to see if there’s anything new… which is far more figital, if I am honest.

  2. This is where the second aid comes into play… I forward calls from my iPhone4 to my original iPhone. This means I can put my iPhone4 out of reach, physically and mentally, and just have my phone for calls and texts (that reminds me… I need to make sure Olly know this number for texts). My original iPhone has a pay-as-you-go SIM that has a zero balance. This means it doesn’t have a data subscription and, as such, can’t access all the tweets, comments and alluring design posts that act as Sirens enticing me to my productivity doom.

  3. My last point is music… I am a firm believer in music… its my golf! I find listening to certain types of music helps me to concentrate: orchestral movie soundtracks (especially John Williams & Howard Shore)… long-form ambient electronica… deep ambient techno mixes from mixotic… music that doesn’t demand my attention with lyrics or breaks in theme.

  4. Setting short-term goals with rewards helps me too: “do this by 10am” or “do that before I have a cup of tea”… these wee challenges keep me active. I might even reward myself with a wee peak at PSFK.com or my iPhone4 if I meet my challenge. Sometimes.

Hopefully, these tips will continue to work for me. But I am eager to hear if you have anything else that may work? Leave a comment or “@” me.



Jonathan Blundell said...

Some good ideas there.

I've turned off all my email notification pop-ups on my computer and have to turn off TweetDeck anytime I really need to concentrate.

I've also tried to practice checking my e-mail (work and personal) 3 or 4 times a day only. I try to stick with a 10-2-4 rule (known here in Texas as "Dr Pepper Time" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr_Pepper#Marketing).

And while I don't have a 2nd iPhone to forward phone calls to, I've turned off all the sound notifications other than HeyTell and txt or phone calls and moved everything and anything that has push notification onto 2nd or 3rd screens (away from my home screen) and tried to put them all in folders as well.

This helps me avoid glancing down at my phone and seeing those glaring badges begging me to check them. (It also makes my nephew annoyed since I don't play Words With Friends fast enough for him).

While we've often done our best to make information available at our fingertips (RSS feeds, bookmarks, etc. etc.) I've found that the more I bury the shortcuts, the easier it is to focus on the here and now.

Anonymous said...

I'm easily distracted, too. Add to that also that I'm a big procrastinator. The only place I can check e-mails is the computer. Pamela and I share a cellphone and have never ever used it to send a text or e-mail. Although I'd love to have an i-phone or blackberry or some similar device, I just can't come up with enough reasons to justify it. If I did have one I know that I'd spend too much unproductive time using it.

As for concentration, I have to have music going when I'm working. If I'm doing monotonous stuff or mechanical tasks, any music will do. If I really have to concentrate I'll put on some Morricone (the soundtracks from 'The Mission' or 'Cinema Paradiso' work the best). I usually have to have headphones as Pamela needs complete silence.

I'm not good at setting goals, but would probably benefit from doing this.

This is keeping me from doing some course work, so I better go and concentrate now!


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