Attention Deficit

Learn to lavish anticipation, and the wait can be as good as the reward.

Or, spend the lead-up in agony; anxiously imagining everthing which could go wrong between now and then.

Our imaginations might do some to prepare us for what could occur, but no sum of preconceived scenarios will ever come close to the efficacy of a charged, focussed presence.

Quit worrying about two weeks from now; there’s something in front of you.

Take it in.

Some of us excel at chipping away at task over long periods of time, slowly accumulating progress towards our goals.

Others work better in batches; short bursts of focussed attention through which a large amount can be accomplished in a short period of time.

There are things each of us will chip away at and others we will batch, but we usually have a natural tendency towards one or the other.

Neither is necessarily better or worse, but it’s possible that us natural batchers could learn a thing or two by sequencing our workloads in more digestible chunks over time, freeing us up to harness our batching abilities when we need them most. The chippers could probably learn from us too; that there are times when rigorous, stubborn and sustained short term effort can be a productive and creative force.

Chippers are guaranteed to build something if they stick at it long enough.

Batchers craft opportunities to test the things they’re making before spending all the time which a chipper would need to make it.

Your pace should be determined by whether you’re running a sprint or marathon, not by which race you’re more naturally inclined to run.

The hardest thing about having ADHD medication is remembering to take your ADHD medication, and days tend to pan out differently when I don’t.

When these days start to snowball, I sometimes hit a slump: the blog posts become short and unremarkable; I have no interest in being around other people; I’m more vulnerable to snacking, on dopaminergic foods as well as activities (read: video games); and I just generally become less fun to be around.

In all honesty, this truth is a scary one. I don’t plan on taking this stuff forever, but for the moment it’s the best tool at my disposal.

Days like this make it hard to see the forrest through the trees.

There aren’t many apps I can say that I’m honestly afraid to download.

TikTok is one of those apps.

I’ve watched my sister and my girlfriend filter through video after silly video until they find something which sends them into a fit of uncontrollable laughter… and looks like a stupid amount of fun.

My concern is that if I open the TikTok floodgate, I won’t be able to close it.

So I’m running an experiment.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to create a TikTok account and download a social media tracker which I will use to monitor my usage over the course of a week.

Next Thursday I’ll check how much time I’ve spent and ask those closest to me if they’ve noticed any changes in my behaviour.

I’ll then decide whether I delete it for good or leave it on my phone.

Either way, I’ll keep you posted.

Hey hey,

A little while ago I mentioned that I was preparing a book pitch and the first 5000 words of a creative non-fiction text. Today that draft was due.

7681 words, way too many hours of reading, and one mad scramble later, I’ve submitted it for my first round of formal feedback. But I felt I’d be remiss not to ask for your feedback too.

This is a link to the first draft. I have my own thoughts about what I like and what I think needs to change, but I don’t want to influence your read.

If you have the time and the inclination, I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have.

You can reach me via any of the usual means, but here is a link to an anonymous feedback form which you can use if you’d prefer.

Much love,

-Luke

The act of putting things off is how we the waste the most time. What’s worse is that we rarely even do so deliberately.

Unconscious procrastination is perhaps even more poisonous than the conscious, conservative kind.

Too many young people find hilarity in the fact that our parents’ generation worked themselves to the bone for fifty years, all for the sake of a handful of holidays spent limping between Balinese pubs and war memorials. While unbeknownst to us, as the un-retired amongst our parents sacrifice their present for a luscious, expected future they aren’t guaranteed, we let our present dwiddle away before our eyes in an even more insidious way.

Glowing screens snatch our attention involuntarily, as if not by choice but by instinct, and the time we have left is often spent curating the next thing we’ll contribute to the very ocean of content we ourselves are drowning in.

At least they know what they’re giving away.

In 2014 a professor at the University of Melbourne published a study in which the computer sessions of 1249 students were analysed over a total of 3372 sessions.

Facebook was present in 44% of all sessions and accounted for the second most common task, totalling 9.2% of all task instances. Only being beaten by university work itself.

What’s interesting is that about 99% of the sessions involved instances of media multitasking.

For the purpose of the experiment they defined focussed behaviour as instances of 20 or more minutes with two or less different activities.

They discovered that students tended to multitask regardless of whether or not they used Facebook.

What was stunning is that when they compare the focussed behaviour between Facebook users and non-Facebook. Around a third of the non-Facebook users spent most of their time in focussed behaviour, compared to only one in nine Facebook users.

Further, Facebook was responsible for initiating multitasking behaviour at the cost of student’s focus.

While these results shouldn’t surprise anyone, they are a reminder that if Facebook is your vice of choice, maybe there are times where you want to restrict your access.

If you’re studying, maybe consider installing a website blocker to stop Facebook initiating distraction.

Your phone is probably the most distracting thing you own.

You can pick it up and access any one of a hundred apps at almost any time.

But this convenience comes at a cost.

Have you ever checked a message on your phone, then decided to check your email as well, jot down something in your shopping list app, Google the closest pizza place and then open up deliveroo? Me too.

When we engage in the consumption of media across channels and switch frequently, it’s called media multitasking.

Unfortunately, media multitasking taxes our ability to learn implicitly.

Which means that while you’re switching through channels, you’re not actually learning (or growing) a whole lot.

Because most of our learning happens naturally and subconsciously.

So be mindful. Next time you pick up your phone, try to do only the thing you first intended to do.

Then put it away.

Our attention is driven by how we feel.

Every decision we make to do one thing and not another is motivated by the feelings we’re likely to experience as a result of doing or not doing the thing.

Attention deficit disorders are emotional regulation disorders.

When we’re not satisfied with how we’re spending our time, there are always emotional reasons we make those choices.

Sometimes it’s the avoidance of discomfort, disgust or fear.

Other times it’s simply that short term dopamine is more accessible than more sustainable sources.

What we do and how we feel are inextricably linked at all stages of decision making.

Treating them separately makes no sense at all.

Here’s a few things I’m pretty convinced are true;

  1. There is a constant war being fought for the attention of our digital selves which is having dramatic adverse effects on people’s happiness, especially amongst digital natives who have never known a world without digital media;

  2. Activities practiced regularly which reward participants for consistent time investment over many years are essential to a meaningful life;

  3. The instant dopaminergic gratifications available through social media and the 24-hour news cycle are training us against investing time into activities which generate meaning over time;

  4. Therefore, it is necessary to reframe the benefits of investing time and energy into skills and activities which create meaning and value over time for those who don’t understand this intuitively.