Thursday, November 08, 2018

Distractions, you say. Where was I?

I read Rick’s and Thomas’s excellent posts this week and had to cringe. Not because I dispute anything they say; but, rather, the opposite: I think most of us wish we had longer attention spans. I read somewhere that eighth graders know 50% fewer words now than they did in 1950. I don’t doubt it. I don’t know for certain why this is, but I do believe young people, in general, don’t read as often as they once did. Because of Rick’s dreaded television? Not sure.

I do, however, know screen addiction is real. “Close your laptops, please. Eyes up here,” is becoming a mantra in my classroom. But here’s the thing, I, too, probably suffer the same addiction. My phone might as well be a sixth finger.

Like many people, my day job requires me to be accessible for the majority of the day. Given that I oversee a dorm of 46 teenagers and need to be available to coworkers and parents just about 24/7, the relationship I have with my cell phone is probably more dysfunctional than yours.

There are, though, are a few things I’ll share here that I do to help me exceed the attention span of a hummingbird.

A single tab: The first thing I need to focus is to avoid email. At all costs. Google runs my world, so I open the Chrome browser to full screen with only one window open. I can’t see a second tab.

Lose the phone: I mean this almost literally. When I’m writing, my office door is shut, and the cell phone is in the other room. (I check it on coffee breaks, and I can hear it ring, but texts are set to vibrate.)

Work on paper: Rewriting takes place on paper and clipboard. No distractions when I’m laying on the sofa, reading, slashing, and writing longhand.

Chew gum: Yes, that’s what I said. It helps students to focus. I know it helps me.

Run: Not necessarily fast or far. But exercise helps me to clear my head, and I write much better after a run.

I don’t have a cure-all for concentration lapses. No prescription. Just some (hopefully) thoughtful tips. Feel free to send yours my way.

1 comment:

Sybil Johnson said...

Interesting about the chewing gum. Hadn't heard that. Shall try it sometime.