Sunday, January 09, 2011

Dealing With Difficulty Concentrating

If you've kept up with my blog posts, you know that not too long ago I went to the doctor for help with my difficulty concentrating. This is when I found out that I had high cholesterol. The cholesterol is unrelated to the concentration problem, mind you.

However, it got me to start thinking about my health. So, I started making changes in my lifestyle. I've started eating better and exercising. I have started taking vitamins from USANA, even becoming an independent rep for them. Even started not staying up until all hours every night like I used to do.

This actually has helped. I find myself less obsessive about tweeting and checking my phone. I am more task oriented, like I was in my youth. Although I changed my lifestyle for a different purpose, it helped with my original concern. Who knew?

Even with all that, I find that there are some adjustments that have also helped me with boring tasks, like reading books.

Loic Le Meur just posted Read this if you can't concentrate or read a book on his blog. I thought I was the only one with this problem. But, it appears that I am not alone.

The lifestyle adjustments helped me, without a doubt. However, it's not enough to overcome my ADD tendencies. There are other mechanisms that I have developed to help me deal.

Lists
There is no way around it. Making lists and doing what is on them is a tremendous help. It also helps to have routines if you're not into lists; however, if anybody screws up your routine, you risk losing your entire day.

Single Purpose Devices
I know it's fashionable to buy multi-purpose devices. Theoretically, you get a lot of value from a device that can do several things. The only problem with the concentration challenged is that it's distracting. This includes mobile phones, tablets, and computers.

For example, many people love to praise the iPad because it allows them to read books and do x, y, and z. This wouldn't work for me. If I want to read a book, I either need a book to read, which is tough enough; or, I need a dedicated eReader. The problem with reader apps on a phone or computer is that you'll get notifications from other apps that are running, which is distracting. Good luck finishing your chapter. 
As much as tablets have revolutionized productivity; they just don't cut it for focusing. Nor do mobile phones. Nor do computers.

Evernote
I mentioned list making earlier. Evernote is the tool of choice for my list-making. It follows me everywhere I go. Loic is also a big fan of Evernote. In order to understand why we like Evernote so much, you have to understand that part of what clouds our minds is consciously trying to remember stuff. Evernote relieves that mental burden. You can simply dump information into Evernote and retrieve it as needed.

The beauty of Evernote is that you can simply dump text, photos, documents, and audio notes into the service with the knowledge that you'll be able to retrieve it later. This, in turn, allows you to focus on the task at hand rather than half focus on remembering crap while you are working on your current task.
I also happen to make my lists in Evernote.

In The End
In the end, there are many techniques you can use to improve your concentration. But, I'm willing to bet that the majority of them include some variation of optimizing your brain's chemical balance (could be as simple as diet and exercise), multi-task avoidance, and writing stuff down. Be sure to latch on to whatever works for you. In today's environment, having focus can be a competitive advantage.
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