Focusing

With the start of a new year, I begin the annual tradition of making goals and hopefully accomplishing them. One New Year Resolution is to improve my focus. 

The reason for this goal is that the duration of my focus has become unreliable over the past year. I am starting to look into exercises and food/supplements that can help get my laser focus back. It used it be very easy to reel in my wandering mind because every time it went away the words of one of my middle school teachers would float to the surface, “The minds of both smart and dumb people wander. The difference is that a smart person can bring their minds back.”

When I do homework, I can work on it for hours at a time. There have been instances where people have to stop and remind me to eat.

In the classroom, on the other hand, I can focus for about half an hour before my mind starts to wander. Most days, I can get my mind back on track after about 5-10 minutes. Other days, the rest of the lecture period is wasted on doodling or staring off into the unknown.

When I write journal entries or blog posts, I churn out words for at least half an hour. However, these activities can easily take up 1-2 hours at a time.

At work, my focus times change depending on my task. The amount of time I spend varies between 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours. The 30 minute and 2 hour durations are fine. It’s the 10 minute productive periods that bother me. There is very little that can be completely done in 10 minutes (besides email) and I often get frustrated with myself once I realize how little I got done.

One way I plan to bring my focus back is to use a planner. Lucky for me, there was an after Christmas sale going on at Michael’s and I nabbed myself a Creative Year planner by Recollections. I had fun looking at the various journals and inserts that could be placed in the small 6-ring binder. Eventually, I settled on the 12-month calendar packet. This gave me dividers for each month as well as sheets to see the entire month and each week, which is really all I needed. I may consider adding some the original grid and blank sheets if I need them.

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I fell out of practice of using planners about a year before I graduated. This was because I had less assignments and I could easily remember them each day. By forcing myself to write out my tasks each day with the due date, I am hoping it will kick myself into gear and manage my time better.

I only used a planner when I was a full-time student, so I will probably need to adjust my note taking to accommodate a schedule of full-time work and part-time school. A possible aid in this endeavor is the Pomodoro technique.

It is about using cooking timers (or any 25 minute timer) to encapsulate specific tasks. These tasks are pretty much a checklist of what you want to get done for the day/week. For those 25 minutes, you only work the predetermined task. If you suddenly get a thought or idea that is not related to your current goal, write it down and come back to it after the pomodoro is finished. When the timer goes off, you take a break and do other things before starting the next pomodoro task.

It is a cute idea. I am not sure how well I can follow it, but I am willing to try. Hopefully, with a more regulated schedule, I will spend less time browsing the latest news or solving a kakuro puzzle.

Any ideas of how long I can follow this technique?

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