Like most people I’ve always had a little Attention Deficit problem and found myself staring off in to space and half a conversation has gone by without me paying any attention at all.
I snap myself back in to the present moment and pick up the thread again.
It usually happens with I’m bored, or under pressure, or when I am awake.
I remember my attention drifting off in science and nature class once when I was nine. I’d decided that as a city girl I didn’t need to be able to classify trees based solely on its leaves.
In all reality I think I remember saying “this is stupid, there are no trees, I’m not doing it” so my little mind wandered into the void of nothingness.
I know a few Buddhists who would be very jealous if they weren’t Buddhists of my ability to consider nothing for a few minutes.
Sound becomes muffled and far away, light softens and diffuses, and when I hear and feel my heart beat I am mesmerised for a period of time.
I heard Professor/Dr Robert Winston (picture below) who is a very famous Doctor in the UK and who pioneered the “test tube baby” fertility treatment – once explain that in the developmental milestones of babies and young children, the quiet moments where they are staring out to space and focussed on nothing are the precise moment that neural pathways and connections are being laid down in the brain. It’s perfectly fine to let that happen and not interrupt their inactive activity or seek their attention, just let them be for a moment.
That’s lovely for babies.
I, however, am a grown woman.
So now when something threatens my concentration, I have a plan.
I have a A5 size distraction notebook and a pack of sticky notes.
Whenever I feel the sirens call of drifting off topic, I grab a sticky pad, scribble my thoughts, stick it in the book and knowing it is safe and captured, I get back on task.
Then at a more opportune moment I review the scribbles on the sticky notes and get to choose which are actually important or urgent or potentially entertaining.
Sometimes when I review those half captured thoughts it is inspiring and thought provoking, and other times I say to myself “why did you think that this, of all things, was important, Woman!”.
The idea that the floating thoughts are captured on sticky notes somehow tells my little brain that they’re still portable, not permanently tethered to somewhere they ought not to be, and I can relax that the idea is still floating around out there in the world but I don’t have to fret over it right now.
It works for me, frees up my attention to stay on task, and gives me a little peace of mind when I cannot get to that idea or important action right away. I guess we all have our coping strategies for times when we are about to stray off track, but this is the one that works for me right now. The current notepad is almost full, it is burgeoning with off topic ideas, and todays offering are “chairs, floor tiles, passport signatures”, three things that can wait.