[Elsa captured this snap of me on our holiday this year. I love that extended period of time off when all I do is read and no matter what book I’ve got in hand, I can spend hours at a time focusing on the story.]
I’ve been working a lot lately on finding focus. I’ve realised a lack of focus is a weakness of mine, and I’m sure of many people. I watch a TV show while browsing through Instagram. I watch a film and message friends throughout. I cook, eat, dress, shower, scrapbook, write all with Friends playing in the background. I listen to music and end up thinking. I overthink and think over a lot of things though, and I reckon that’s a whole other issue in itself to tackle separately!
After the huge step up in to third year at uni and a few wobbly moments of feeling inadequate and incapable of certain things, I’ve realised that actually, if my focus was better, surely a lot of other aspects of life could be to? If I really watched the TV shows and films I had on, I could form fuller thoughts and opinions on them. If I listened to the radio, I’d pick up on interesting snippets of information. If I just cooked and focused on the cooking, it would be more enjoyable and relaxing and rewarding. If I actually focused, engaged and paid attention to each thing I was doing while I was doing it, I’d absorb so much more information and gain a lot more.
I turned to podcasts as a first step to improving my focus. I’ve enjoyed the Wittertainment podcast for about a year or so now. Kermode and Mayo never fail to make me laugh and, with the exception of films I know from the outset are not my bag, I’ve never had a problem devoting my full attention to their witterings. Mum recommended a Radio 4 Women’s Hour show and Chris suggested David Baddiel Tries to Understand podcast, so I plugged in to these both and made sure my brain was engaging fully with them. With the exception of a few wandering trains of thought, it was easy to listen and react to what the presenters and guests were saying. Be it Radio 4’s In Our Time culture shows or shows on random acts of kindness since, tuning in to various podcasts have been thought provoking and just plain entertaining!
While it’s still early days, I have noticed an improvement. I sat in my lecture the other day and, while sometimes I just find myself day dreaming about the most unrealistic situations, I didn’t find myself tuning out and tempted to pick up my phone half way through. This weekend, I’ve left my phone in another room the majority of the time (unusual for me!) and last night watched through my first viewing of Beetlejuice (so weird and wonderful!) without any temptation to check my messages or let my friends know how great the film was half way through. I’ve been reading for my course and actually fully engaging with the texts first time. It’s such a small change but, in a week where my head has been full of a lot of crazy thoughts and feelings as it is, it’s been great to actually find the focus I was striving to.
I’ve identified my weakest point of day as about half 2 to half 4. For whatever reason, in those couple of hours my head just shuts down and I feel sleepy and unable to concentrate, so those are no go zones. They are for absent-minded show watching and endless, nonsensical messaging before knuckling down and getting back to work. I’m planning on researching and reading around focus a little more in the coming weeks. Life lately has felt a little like clutching at straws. Like there are so many juggling balls that I just can’t actually get a grip on while they fly through the air. I could be wrong, but I suspect a better sense of focus might help feel a little more in touch with all the things going on in my world!
What do you do to find focus? I’d love to hear what it is that keeps you connected and concentrated with what you’re doing, be it individual tasks or just life in general!