(All my posts are just for fun. If I talk about something medical, ignore it. Never take my advice on anything. Truly.)
Everyone has trouble focusing. We live in a world where there are numerous interesting things to do, and it only takes seconds to get access to those interesting things. As a chronic multitasker myself, I am completely guilty of separating my focus onto three different tasks at once. For example, the other morning I found myself reading, watching television, and answering texts messages at one time. I should probably have been ashamed, but I wasn’t. In fact, I was proud of myself. Here I was, maximizing my time, using different gadgets, and keeping in touch with my family and friends.
The truth of the matter is, we can’t really focus on that many activities at once. The television show I was watching, I had seen hundreds of times before, and the messages I was writing didn’t require much effort. You could say I was only really soaking in the book.
Being a graduate student has affected me strangely. Some mornings I get up, drink a cup of coffee, and immediately get to work. Other mornings, I sleep until 12 PM, go for a two hour walk, clean my house, and never once think about my thesis. (For all of you writing your dissertations, trust me, I understand that I have no right to bitch. But here we are.). It is infuriating, and I am scared every day that I won’t ever graduate or get my writing over with. My focus goes from place to place, and I never really seem to be able to grasp what I am trying to accomplish at any given point.
There are a couple of extreme measures I take to sit down and truly focus:
1. Throw my phone away. Or put it in another room. Whatever it is, I get rid of it. There are too many cool things on my phone: games, social media, good conversations, books, comics, and music. If anything is going to draw my focus away, it will be my phone.
2. Lock myself in the most boring room I can find. Honestly, this is usually some place in the library, or (no one tell my advisor) the archaeology lab in the evening. Unless there are people in the lab, in which case I hightail it away from there.
3. Never open an internet browser unless it is connected to JSTOR, some peer reviewed journal, or the thesaurus. NEVER.
4. If you take ADD medication, don’t skip that day. If you don’t take ADD medication, start taking it now.
5. Find something that relaxes you, yet keeps you productive. I have two go-tos. Incense and tea. I know, you all think I’m a useless hippie. But if your relaxing agent is saying “bro” out loud to yourself or chugging a 40 of Coors, go for it.
6. Don’t underestimate the power of taking a ten minute break. As long as you come back to what you were doing before, your mind can re-set itself, and give you a more long-term spurt of productivity.
7. Ignore your pets. This sounds cruel, but here’s how it goes in my house. I will be sitting around, playing on the computer all day. Or reading a book for fun. My cats will ignore me during this time- they will sleep or play with each other or run up and down the hallways. But the minute I bring up a Word document, they decide it’s time to get in my lap and be incredibly cute. And then I have to make the decision: do I pet them and immediately ruin my day of productivity? Or do I look into their sweet little eyes, pick them up, and throw them onto the floor? Damn them. Damn them to hell.
8. If you are having relationship problems (and I know you all are, so don’t act like this isn’t a thing) stop thinking about them for five fucking seconds. Jesus, as if you weren’t defined by more than just your pretty face and your inability to communicate with your partner.
9. Try to be excited about your work. Again, this sounds like a given, but there are times where I immediately sabotage myself because I am tired of what I am doing. Or I don’t see the point. Don’t feel bad about having those doubts, but try to remind yourself why you were drawn to the subject in the first place. How did you feel at the beginning of your project? (I know you had a schedule at the beginning of your project. How did that go……)
10. If you miss a day, don’t freak out. There is always tomorrow.
What are your productivity tips?