Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Posted by Laurel Garver on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 15 comments
One month from today, I will be arriving here:

photo by schurch, morguefile.com
As you might guess, planning is making life a bit hectic. It's my fourth trip to the UK, but instead of being in a college program, on a bus tour, or having a romantic getaway with my hubby, I'll be taking a family trip. It's my 10-year-old daughter's first  time off the continent of North America, and we'll be renting a car and driving. On the left side of the road. Yeah. A many of new adventures lie ahead.

My day job tends to get very hectic in late May, when all the college professors get busy with summer writing projects and submissions to scholarly journals like the one I work on.

Promoting my novel and poetry collection continues to take my time in dribs and drabs.

And then there's the new novel, crying for my attention.

It's so easy on days like this to scurry from thing to thing and feel like I never fully engaged with anything.

That, friends, is "attention splatter," a helpful concept in the social media-soaked world. This article by Christine Kane explains it well.

She recommends having fewer priorities a day. Awesome. I'd love that. However, I can't control my agenda to that degree. I can, however, build pockets of focus into my day.

How? Set aside "sprint hours" and "concentration hours." In other words, give yourself pockets of quiet to do focused work, then at set intervals, deal with the small tasks that tend to interrupt: check and respond to e-mail, make a call or two, pop onto Facebook or Twitter.

Then stop.

Breathe.

Get up and walk a little. Drink a glass of water. Say a prayer or hail the muse.

Sit. Sink into your stillcenter.

Dig in to your next concentrated task with your full attention.

Do you have certain times of year that bring more "attention splatter"? How do you cope?

15 comments:

  1. Attention splatter - such a perfect term! I loved the "pockets of focus" term and "stillcenter." I'm in the slow learning process of changing over from reacting to everything, to acting, e.g. making conscious choices.

    A trip to the UK!!! I was 14 when my mom took me, and I treasure every memory. I would love to go again. My favorite memories, surprisingly, were not the famous places but several of the bed and breakfasts we stayed at where we were treated like family.

    I mentioned Never Gone in one of my top ten book lists - your book has stayed in the back of mind even months after reading it.

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    1. Especially this week, I needed to revisit that article. I have a print out pinned to my bulletin board. The best lessons take a while to stick, I think!

      We will be renting a little vacation cottage for a big chunk of the trip--on a sheep farm, near the Forest of Dean. That should be truly magical for my girl, I think.

      And a thousand thanks for your encouraging words about Never Gone. That made my week!

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  2. I have this problem. So much to do, don't know where to begin, so nothing gets accomplished. Sometimes it helps for me to a proper to-do lists. Proper meaning, if I write 'finish revisions' that will never happen but if I write 'revise chapter 1', it'll happen. Feel free to tweet your goals to me too ;) For cookies. And, I'll be attempting to drive on the left side of the road in July in Ireland. Prayers for all of us ; )

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    1. I think taking the extra step of writing down a task helps so much. I use the "tasks" function in gmail to help me keep track of things for work. And I agree that small goals are the way to go.

      Thanks so much for being my twitter accountability partner!

      I think my hubby will be doing most of the driving, but there will surely be times I might need to pop out to Tesco for something. Eeep! Have a fabulous time in Ireland. Hope you get to see "the Ring of Kerry"--some lovely scenic drives on the west coast.

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  3. I have the same problem--too much to do at work, home, blog, and then writing. I like this idea of trying to get smaller pieces of time to focus. Thanks for sharing it. And your trip sounds awesome.

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    1. Thanks Natalie. It worked well for me yesterday. An hour of concentrated work produces better results than three hours with constant interruptions.

      Sixteen days in the UK should be so lovely. If we have internet access, I'll try to blog about it.

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  4. I love the phrase "attention splatter."
    Lists help me, because once I have everything written down, I know that I can focus on one thing at a time and not worry that I'll forget something.

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    1. Great point about remembering things. I know my mind can get very cluttered and the stillcenter impossible to find when I try to hold my task list in memory alone. Jettisoning the clutter to a piece of paper gives great mental breathing space, so to speak.

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  5. I will watch for you in London! Will you be visiting the Shakespeare &Co bookstore?

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  6. I will watch for you in London! Will you be visiting the Shakespeare &Co bookstore?

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  7. I will watch for you in London! Will you be visiting the Shakespeare &Co bookstore?

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  8. I will watch for you in London! Will you be visiting the Shakespeare &Co bookstore?

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    1. Not sure what's on our itinerary, Leah, other than Harry Potter Experience and a friend's ordination service. We'll be landing in London on the 15th, picking up a rental car and heading west to a cottage in Glouchestershire for a chunk of the trip. I'll be in the city at month's end (26-30).

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  9. I saw a good philosophy once that said we tend to have three focuses at any one time, but they fit inside a triangle and only one can be on top. From time to time we tip the triangle different ways, changing which item is our main focus, but always only one. I've accepted that at these times I have to just let some stuff go.

    Enjoy London!

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    1. How interesting. The article I linked also mentioned the number three as how many priorities one can reasonably have in a day. That triangle picture is helpful, I think.

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