Getting my attention span back

Updated: Apr 5

Last summer, my attention span dwindled down to almost nothing. I was a little worried about it, but I kept seeing other people on Twitter making jokes about experiencing the same thing, so I laughed it off. I thought that things would get better after the election, but the number of cases kept going up, taking my stress level with it. Watching or reading the news was misery, but I couldn't stop trying to keep up with everything going on. After the election, I began to feel better, but my ability to focus didn't snap back. I read somewhere about a book called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, and I thought, that's exactly what I need. For the first chapter or two, I worried that it wouldn't help me. The beginning of the book is about the need for and usefulness of doing deep work, meaning focused, driven, intentional work, with distractions dialed down to nothing. The first example is Carl Jung, who built a tower in the woods to get away from people. But I was intrigued and stuck with it, because I felt sure that there was something in this that I could apply to my job. I spend alot of time at my job on a public service desk, where I can't tune out the sound of the phone ringing or decide to ignore the email for a few hours, but a good part of this book is about learning to find the time, even small periods of it, to prioritize doing deep work. There are strategies to support this. I took notes while I was reading and even typed them afterwards as a review, which is something that I never did as a student. I would have thought that was bonkers if anyone had suggested it. But the book made me want to knuckle down and just try harder. I know that part of the reason that I feel like I can think again is that the news cycle is shrinking, and while the pandemic is still a slow-rolling tragedy that I can't wrap my head around, it feels like now there are people who are making thoughtful, informed plans to deal with it. And, the cases are going down. But part of the reason why my brain is starting to work again is what I learned from this book. Deep Work by Cal Newport


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