Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Attention Span of a Gnat

This might be insulting to gnats everywhere; just fair warning.

When I was little I would focus on one thing for hours. I was well known for being able to play a computer game for eight hours straight, or read an entire novel in a day.

Some things have not survived my PhD. That sort of attention span is one of them.

It's a funny thing, this 'other' side. Emerging from four years of intensive academia and finally having the time to take stock of what's changed. A few things were temporary (memory loss, hair loss, compromised immune system), and some things have not been temporary.

But the one that is causing me the most grief is the inability for anything to keep my attention for longer than about twenty minutes. Things I used to enjoy for hours I now grow bored of in minutes. I can't watch an hour of television, even with commercials to distract me (I can't watch it without commercials either, thanks Netflix). I can't read more than a couple of chapters of a novel. I can't read more than one academic article a day (and even then, if it's long...). And I can't do fun things. I get bored of Pinterest after ten minutes. I get bored of Twitter after five. I get bored of writing blog posts in the middle of writing blog posts.

I'm certain there's some psychological reason for all this. I'm quite certain someone could tell me why so long intensely concentrating on one thing has somehow hardwired my brain to not be able to concentrate on anything. And maybe I'm just - still - recovering, and it'll get better. But if anything, it's gotten worse.

It used to scare me a lot. The things stress does to the body. But I've gotten over that, mainly because a lot of the stress-related issues have gone away. But this one? This one may never, and I'm going to have to adjust to that. It's entirely doable, I'm sure. I just have to learn to do things in 5-10 minute windows, rather than do one thing for three hours.

Time to try to Pomodoro technique, I think.

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