In this digital age it’s hard to stay focused. I think everyone occasionally suffers from writers block, but for someone who does it for a living it can pose serious problems. I found myself procrastinating and I was having trouble staying focused. I decided to go back to the basics. I needed to figure out what was giving me these difficulties and keeping me from achieving my goals. I wanted to find a solution so that I could get back to business.
In the digital age we are presented with a wealth of information. I have found that sometimes it is too much information. There are so many opportunities and so many ideas flowing through my head that I can’t seem to focus on just one.
I am so eager to take advantage of this opportunity that has been given to me. I’ve used computers for over 15 years and sacrificed a lot in my quest to explore this World Wide Web. It truly is a world of it’s own and there is indeed meaning behind the word web. It is a tangled web of information. In between the links to SPAM, the advertisements, the sales market, the software, downloads, there is information, useful information, and not so useful information.
Your brain has various processing channels in which have limited capacity. It is easy to overwhelm your brain. We have the ability to multi-task, but at what cost? It’s like the old saying, ”you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.” obviously this is possible and is done all the time, but there is such a thing as an information overload. Sure you can multi-task say, by talking on the phone and e-mailing at the same time. But your recollection of the phone conversation and e-mail you sent the next day may not be as accurate as it would have been if you had been doing just one of those two things. Your brain takes time in-between pauses in a conversation or a task to store information. If you’re doing too much at once it doesn’t have the needed down time to do this.
I’ve found that writing out a to-do list helps me feel accomplished, it relieves some of the pressure and stress I feel. It’s a step in the right direction. Because you’re not just thinking it, you’re actually implementing it and moving towards your goal by writing it out. You no longer need to store all those little details in your head, they are all on paper for you to refer to when needed. This helps free up mental space for other ideas and tasks.
The to-do list is detailed but not too detailed. Think of it as defragmenting your brain. By writing out and categorizing – your list is no longer a jumbled mess of ideas in your head.
Once you have your list completed it is a good idea to prioritize it. This way you’re not overwhelmed at the concept of having to get all of these things accomplished at once. I put stars or dashes beside the ones that are most important and leave the rest to when I have spare time.
After you’ve done this you should reward your accomplishments by putting a check mark beside the tasks that you have completed. Sometimes I didn’t necessarily do as good of a job as I thought I was going to, or something didn’t go through as planned, so I will give myself a check minus. It’s important to reward yourself for attempts too. For example, on my list I had:
Call Doug about computer cord [ √ – ]
E-mail video networking guy [ √ + ]
Do dishes [ √ + ]
Clean house [ √- ]
You will notice I gave myself a check minus on Call Doug about computer cord and clean house. This is because I called Doug, but he didn’t answer, and I started to clean my house, but didn’t finish. I still need to reward myself for my behavior. I attempted both and will simply need to go back to follow up and finish the tasks I started. The important part is I started them and therefore moved towards success. Be sure to turn that minus symbol into a plus when you conquer your goal.
Another way to help clear the mind is just to take a break. When I’m feeling overwhelmed and my mind is overloaded I know the best thing to do is to just shut everything down and relax. Sometimes even this can turn into procrastination so it is important to just do it. Even if it’s just 2-5 minutes, it can do a world of good. One of the things I like to do is take a nice, hot, bath. I put in my favorite bath salts, light some incense, turn out all the lights and light scented candles. I just lay back and relax. I don’t really worry about anything, I just stay in the moment and enjoy it. It’s okay if thoughts of work or obligations come to mind, I just remind myself of the wonderful, relaxing environment that I’m in.
You can put in a instrumental CD, light incents and just sit and let the music take you away. I’ve found that music with foreign lyrics can prove to be relaxing, as can sounds of the wilderness. There are no words to decipher, just beautiful singing and sound.
It’s like when your computer is acting slow and you reboot it. You come out feeling refreshed and will be more open and able to focus and accomplish your goals. Just think, you just accomplished one of them by taking a break.
So next time you’re feeling scatter brained and are experiencing educated incapacity, take a break. Use this guide to help you relax and regain your inner peace. The digital age is full of information, remember that we are people and not machines, but like our machines once and awhile we all could use a little defragging.
Alison. M, “Focusing in the Digital Age – Information Overload”, Associated Press.