This post is about my personal strategy that I use to be able to consistently work towards my goals despite a fairly poor ability to hone in on one specific topic over the course of extended periods of time.
I have a short attention span
While I’ll see a project through, often I’ll need to step away from it and return back later multiple times because the amount of drive I have at any given time just isn’t enough to push it over the finish line.
I’ll do a few really long editing sessions, (5+ hours) on a song or video then step away from it for two months before I have the motivation to put the final touches on and finalize it.
It’s like that with various hobbies as well.
I won’t practice something consistently for years straight. Instead, I’ll go on a hot streak for 3 months, maybe 6 months where I’m being really consistent at something and building up that skill then I’ll just fall off a cliff for the next 3-6 months, sometimes even longer.
When I try to fight it and force myself into doing whatever specific thing I fell off from I’ll inevitably get burned out on an even deeper level.
The purpose of writing this post isn’t to talk about myself but to give my philosophy behind how to best take advantage of being this way.
Now let me be clear, what I’m talking about is NOT how to not be lazy. While I have my lazy moments like anyone else, I don’t struggle with that overall.
I’m talking about
- wanting to consistently develop yourself &
- setting aside the time to do so &
- having the motivation to focus your mind for long sessions,
- but fragmenting yourself between multiple fields.
If you have this problem what you should attempt to do is have a circle of multiple things to jump between that all feed into the same overall skillet.
Let me give an example that isn’t about me.
If I was a mechanic, I would be bad at focusing on one project car.
What I would do if I implemented the system I am talking about is
work on fixing up an old Camero one week,
take apart a lawn mower the next week to see how it works,
study boat engines the week after that,
then the forth week look into 3D printing and modeling and how to work that into your mechanic skill set.
the fifth week return to the original project car
While the focus on one thing is most definitely poor all the skills/knowledge you’re picking away at gaining is under the umbrella of being a better and more versatile mechanic.
An example about me, right now I’m practicing writing by writing this blog post. This is because I want to get better at writing these but also to practice my overall skills in expressing ideas.
Writing these will help with writing music, video scripts, and any writing related to a job in the future.
It may even aid in overall storytelling and help me use only visual images to tell a story.
On a larger scale, I try to keep my focus in my free time on activities that will help to build up my overall skills in creating audio-visual art.
Therefore, learning any computer software related to audio-visual creation or learning how to use any physical object such as a musical instrument is a way to use my time that, “follows my rules”.
An example of something falling outside of this scope would be learning CSS to design websites or learning about marketing. While these would be fascinating and useful topics to study, diving into learning them would be spreading myself too thin. Especially as someone that already doesn’t have the best attention span.
IdeallyI could collaborate with a person that has the knowledge to do those things just mentioned who could fill in gaps in my knowledge.
But, going back to the main point,
1. any type of writing I do feeds into the overall skill of writing,
2. Any way I make music, even if it’s drumming on a table with my fingers, feeds into the overall skill of music creation.
3. Any way I make visual art whether it’s shooting footage with a camera, photoshop, 3d modeling or 2d video editing all feeds into the overall skill of making still/moving visual art.
So, if you’re like me and have a bad attention span, use it to your advantage. Learn to practice your desired craft from multiple different angles and get better at each aspect slowly but surely.
The downside of this is that it may take longer for your practice to pay off in any substantial way, but you can’t fight against a fragmented attention span you need to work with the way your own brain functions.
Just make sure you’re keeping the frequency at which you practice up & don’t make excuses and be lazy.
Lastly, if you develop a diverse skillet be sure to not get cocky and be sure to appreciate people who have taken the time & had the focus to master just one thing.
If you have a more broad knowledge you may be able to act as a link between people that do specialize in one certain thing and get to enjoy and learn from their superior knowledge in that specific lane.
I had a really good teacher back in Junior high that had her entire classroom covered with one phrase.
She must’ve had over 100 different laminated pieces of paper, plaques, and drawings that all said the same thing
While I’ve definitely complained my fair share in my life, being in her room for hours and hours over the course of a few years in Junior high definitely hammered that phrase into my head in an hilariously obnoxious way. Something I’ll always be grateful for.