Thursday, April 11, 2013

Random Thoughts on the Art of Staying Focused


 
…as my ability to focus diminishes over time

People tell stories of walking into a room and immediately forgetting why he or she entered the room. That occasionally happens to me, but I am experiencing a different but probably related phenomenon.

I am in one space, working or reading or writing, and march into another room to grab something – a book, the laundry, my phone – or do something, such as get a cup of coffee, make the bed, or empty the dishwasher.

I arrive at my intended destination and begin doing something totally unrelated to my original intention.  For instance, I just returned from my bedroom. I went in to retrieve a couple of pictures. Instead I headed directly for the bathroom and put on make up.

It is the middle of the day, but I had not gotten around to that task earlier. Later this afternoon I am heading out and will be in the presence of other people, so applying some makeup was a desirable mission. After my exercise class this morning I came home, showered, but never quite finished getting myself together for the rest of the day.

Until now. When finished I walked into the kitchen and suddenly realized why I went into the bedroom in the first place.

Call it whatever you want. Unfocused. Senseless. Forgetful. Unattentiveness (or is it inattentiveness?).

On the way to accomplish one task, I successfully complete another. That is not all bad, but does get disconcerting.

I have no idea what this behavior means. I guess one way to avoid it is to reduce activity involving mobility; get settled after breakfast and not move until lunchtime. Not very practical.

I must attempt to stay focused.

I could make a to-do list. I am very good at deciding to make a list and beginning a list. But then I lose the list. Or forget I started one. Or begin another. Suddenly I have several pieces of paper with a couple of to-dos written on each one. Once more confusion reigns.

I could create the list on my iPhone, but do not yet know how to do that. And I am not in the habit of carrying my iPhone around with me all day, like so many members of the younger generations. When home I usually place my phone on the kitchen counter and leave it there. It remains there for hours, undisturbed, unless it rings. I might not hear it if I am in another part of the house, but I can always call someone back. That is what we did in the good old days.

Uh oh. Now I am really feeling old and outdated, talking about the good old days. They may not have been so good. And, relatively speaking, they may not have occurred so long ago. I am out of touch with the rest of the fast-paced, fast-moving, tech-focused world.

And that brings me right back to my problem. Focus. A lot of the time I am not.

Focused.

The doorbell is ringing. Actually it is my phone, which happens to sound like a doorbell. We do not have a doorbell.

I should answer it.

I will get back to this conundrum momentarily. Maybe. If I remember. If I get focused. And stay focused.

Answer the phone. Wait, it stopped ringing.

So what am I going to make for dinner?...

8 comments:

  1. I make the problem worse by trying to get organized.
    Later when I look for something that I "organized" I can't remember where I put it.
    My wife says I'm to blame. If I did not try to be so organized I would know where I put things!
    Here's a funny quote:
    "Organized people are just too lazy to go back and look for things"

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  2. I have a teflon brain these days -- nothing sticks to it!!!!

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  3. My short-term memory is so bad now that I don't always successfully navigate to the end of my sentences. I stop somewhere and put on makeup instead. (That's metaphorical. I don't put on makeup.) I think that's why I like writing. By the time I get something put together, people think I can think coherently.

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  4. The same thing happens to me all the time. I cannot blame it on age either. Attention Deficit Disorder--Inattentive Type, they used to call it.

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  5. You are definitely not alone in this phenomenon. As for lists, I get a kick out of using Workflowy (http://www.workflowy.com). You can list as much as you want, but if you group items by category, you can "focus" on everything in that category on a separate page -- getting ready for a particular trip or event, for instance, or everything you need to do next Tuesday -- and print out just that much. It sends you emails after you add an item. It's fun. And free.

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  6. And did you know that some cholesterol meds do cause short term memory issues? It was so bad that I quit taking them because I'd rather be dead than take them.

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  7. It's a well-known but minor affliction that sometimes affects people as they get older, called ... uh, called ... er, what's it called?

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  8. OMG. I got up this morning, poured coffee and dropped some bread in the toaster. I went into the bedroom to get my glasses so I could read the paper and stripped the bed, heard the toast pop, went back into the kitchen and realized I did not have my glasses. I went back into the bedroom, picked up the sheets and took them to the laundry room. I am cursed. It only got worse from there. Now I need to make a list to go from one room to the next.

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