Focus is a Renewable Resource
So now he just lives with it and, although he hates his inability to focus, if he keeps going back to his original activity, even if he can’t sustain that activity for more than a few minutes, he gets things done. In fact, he gets a lot done. He published 10 papers last year and wrote at least 2 successful grant proposals. And he is very well informed about the news and weather.
I don’t have ADD, but I identify with many of the symptoms. I think this is a common experience – there are times when even the most attentive of us can’t focus as well as we would like, and we all lose our keys sometimes too. Luckily, we don’t need a psychiatrist’s approval to incorporate random Internet mantras into our daily lives.
Anyway, this idea of returning to the manuscript sits right next to my concept of meditation as a constant process of returning to your breath.
I don’t need to feel excited, or hopeful, or energetic to notice that I am breathing – I can do it whenever I want. For about four breaths, then I get distracted. If I want to keep noticing my breath I have to repeat the choice to pay attention. Over and over and over.
Focusing on work doesn’t come as naturally to me as breathing (that would be weird) and there are times when I really do has the stupid and can’t brain at all. Most of the time, though, I can repeat the choice to pay attention. Over and over and over.
I don’t know if these every-five-minute vow renewals will get me through the next year, but they only need to get me through the next three months.