8/365: Focus!

Posted: January 8, 2011 in Misc.
Tags: , , , ,

How do I focus? Well, manually mostly but sometimes I use the in-built auto-focus too.

Sorry for the PJ. Frankly, I’ve never given much thought to this so am not so sure. But here’s an attempt…

I don’t know how is it for other people but for me external distractions have never been an issue. I’m pretty good at blanking/blocking them out and concentrating on whatever I’m doing – reading, working, studying, watching, cycling, sleeping or anything else.

It’s the internal disturbances that trouble me – those from my eternally jaywalking thoughts. You see, I’ve always had a hyper-active brain in a lazy body. I remember my history teacher telling my mom in class 8th that my answers showed that while I knew everything, I’d just jump over sections because my writing hand couldn’t keep up with my brain. Those grey cells that prevented me from scoring marks in history papers back in school, continue to cause me trouble to this day.

My most successful method of avoiding these mental distractions is to place myself in the midst of a hyperactive location. So, while I get absolutely nothing done when I’m alone at home as I let my thoughts roam. However,  a couple of hours in that day spent at a neighbourhood cafe or public library can produce tons of output. In fact, more than half the job applications I’ve sent out since moving to LDN have been sent while sitting at a neighbourhood cafe called Roma. Also, most of the books I read during the last year in Bombay were read at the noisy and chaotic neighbourhood Barista. I don’t know what it is, but I thrive in the midst of chaos and noise but lose my bearings when I’m left in a quiet place.*

One reason for better output outside the home is lack of distraction from a TV set (actually, most of the distraction comes from controlling the remote, not the TV itself). But I’ve noticed recently that I even check the mobile less frequently when outside, despite all my regular spots having free wi-fi available.

I think it’s something to do with how taxed the brain is. When in a quiet, isolated place, my brain finds the task at hand too small, too trivial a challenge. So it starts wandering off exploring other thoughts or shooting off on tangents to the main task. But when I place the same brain in midst of a noisy, chaotic environment, focusing on the basic task at hand itself becomes a challenge. A challenge that’s hard enough (but not too hard) for my brain to take on. And so it starts delivering. Or, so I’d like to think. But then since it’s the brain thinking about the itself here, there may be several ego issues involved as well, so I’d take it with a pinch of salt.

Now, the above process is concerning to activities that do not require deep, out-of-the-box thinking. For such deep-dive, high level focus, I have one grand solution – the toilet seat. It may sound gross, but it’s true – there’s no other place that the thought  process in my mind clears up like it does when my trousers are down and I’m sitting on the throne inside my loo. No, unlike the previous concentration technique, I’m not gonna try and decipher the reason behind this one here. Maybe I’ll do that when I next visit the loo ;)

So, there. We’re done with post #8 and with the first week of the daily blogging challenge. Only 51 more weeks to go now. Actually 50 weeks and 6 days but whatever…


P.S.: Would love to hear your ideas on how to focus. Also, would really like to know if there are any other people out there like me who get their best, most original thoughts in the loo. :)

*The only exception to this rule in the last decade has been my preparation for 4th semester exams at b-school. That was the only semester I used the campus library, and to great effect.


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