Ellie's World, Learning and Growth, Self-reflection

Maintaining focus

This week has been a bit of a slog at times to be honest. Work is interesting and needs doing soon but for some reason it’s felt a bit like wading through mud this week and I’ve been easily distractable. Which then ends up with me being frustrated with myself come Friday.

I’ve found a couple of ways to help me focus that I thought I’d share here:

1. Ambient sounds and screensavers on youtube. There are a number of youtube channels offering “cafe” sound tracks accompanied by a screen shot of a cafe landscape. Sometimes it’s music, other times just chatter. Also some more academia focussed old library’s with rain and cracking fires (note none of the university libraries I have ever worked in have looked remotely like this but it’s a landscape that I associate with work. Some of these run Pomodoro timings too (focussed for 25 mins, 5 mins break).

2) I’ve been trying out a daily 20 minute FLOWN session – it’s a kind of online “stand-up” meeting apparently adapted from the daily practice of many start ups. The session is led by a facilitator and includes a brief meditation/breathing exercise, 5-8 minutes “daily pages” writing (more of this below), and then a short breakout with 2-3 people where you set intentions for the day and answer another question posed by the facilitator. You finish back in the main group with a thought for the day. I’m enjoying the connection with different people (it’s really short and focussed so it doesn’t feel pressurised the way some online networking does to me), being accountable in setting my intentions for the day and even the meditation.

But most of all I’m enjoying the writing. Daily pages is a concept where you just write for a set amount of time, dumping whatever is in your head onto paper. I’ve tried before but without encouragement I struggle to make it a habit. And the best time for me is when I wake earlier than everyone else and my brain is racing but I don’t want to wake anyone up by moving around the house or putting a light on. So, this seems to work for me. You can write anything but I’ve been using the prompts they provide which are varied. I’ve found the writing flowed easily and in useful directions and I’ve found myself feeling more creative outside of the 20 minute sessions too.

Of course this creativity could be another way to distract myself but even if that is the case, it is probably more useful than doom-scrolling!If anyone has other things for me to try around maintaining focus, I’d love to hear them.

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