This essay was written by me, Brandon Nolet, in the context that taking your work seriously is an effective way to create a realm of focus.
When I was in kindergarten my mother was told that I either had to get on some sort of hyperactivity control medication or that I had to change classes. I was deemed to be too hyper for her class. This was because I would be playing games when everyone else was supposed to be relaxed.
I just couldn’t sit still and during the time where it was time for everyone to round up in a circle, I wouldn’t. It was story time and every was to sit around and listen to the story that the teacher had picked out. Meanwhile, that was not my idea of fun! I decided that it would be more entertaining, for everyone including myself, to run around the circle of students and play duck-duck-gooose.
So my mom took me to a psychiatric hospital and got me diagnosed and followed up that diagnosis at ages 11 and 14 as well.
Before continuing I’d just like to make sure that we’re on the same page. Let me just define ADHD and ADD as a higher than average level of necessary stimulation required in order for a greater level of focus to be achieved.
For the longest time, and even into adulthood, I still find myself struggling to maintain focus or interest for long periods of time. I find myself to be highly impulsive and only when I get into the zone do I ever feel like I’ve really progressed with any one thing.
It’s rare for me to find a moment of clarity where I don’t feel like my brain is actually an obstacle coming in between where I am and where I want to be. Since it’s so rare, it’s also an important time in a day or a week or a month for me to take that time.
Unfortunately the side-effect of that can be that I just don’t want to go outside but I try to balance that with my strive for being healthy both in mind and body.
I’ve been trying, and mostly failing, to control when those rare times of focus happen. It’s actually happening right now and that’s probably because it’s only 2 hours to midnight and I’m only writing this post now. It’s hard to control but I think I might be getting the hang of it.
There are two factors in this.
The first is that I realized whenever I’m at the workplace, it’s a lot easier for me to focus. It almost seems like that separation between home and work is enough for my brain to “activate” in a way that keeps me focused.
The second factor is me hearing something that CGP Grey said in his podcast Hello Internet. He said that when you’re trying to gain a new discipline or trying to hone a certain skill, it’s not that you’re training yourself to not fail. It’s that you’re training yourself to “get back into the game” whenever you inevitably do fail at some point. I want to touch more on that but I’ll save it for another post.
How the first factor helps me is that I can use that isolation trick with some of the projects I’m working on at home. I already did a more basic version of this when I decided to keep my computer desk(and computer) out of my room. By separating my waking and sleeping life, I get a better experience in both parts of my life in that context. By separating my play and work computer life, I can probably achieve better experiences in both parts as well.
The second factor is mostly a mantra that I try to play over and over in my head which, admittedly, helps me “get back into the game” the same day. It’s something that also relieves me because it leaves room for failure while at the same time encouraging against it.
I think that more and more as I age (even though I’m only 25), I’ll find more tips and tricks to help me focus and get into the zone when I’m working. Up until now, this is about what I’ve found. I hope that reading my experience has helped you.