MeFites, I need your help learning to focus...
December 28, 2011 7:32 PM   Subscribe

MeFites, I need your help learning to focus...

I'm a 26 year old man with a voracious appetite for knowledge and yet I have a lot of trouble staying focused on a single thing for very long. Friends of mine joke that it's my super power to spend a month's worth of focus into a single week on a new thing then lose interest in it and move on to something different and repeat the process. It's great because I get exposed to a lot of different things but I would like to try to actually master something. With all of the children today being diagnosed with ADHD I sometimes wonder if I might suffer from something similar yet it wasn't as prevalent when I was that age. What are some of your tips or knowledge regarding honing one's focus?
posted by cassini to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I have ADD and what you describe has nothing to do with it. Learning about a subject only to move onto another seems pretty much the process one undertakes when discovering the world. I went through zillions of interests--antique roses, WWI posters, plagiarism, female explorers, etc.--before I found subjects that intrigued me longer than a couple of weeks.

Why do you want to hone your focus? I don't mind having a pool of knowledge that's very wide but shallow. Knowing a little bit about a lot of things works for me.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:38 PM on December 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This has come up before.

I've found a lot of useful tips in the question above and in several others. I've learned to see this as less of a problem and more of a gift.

Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 7:48 PM on December 28, 2011

For the past few years, I've been picking annual projects with concrete goals, milestones, etc. The ones I've been most successful at intentionally rekindled interests I'd had in the past. The one that failed pretty badly seemed very doable (still does), but what stands out about it is it had a significant "I've never done this or been interested in this before" element. So I guess what I'm saying is that if all you want to achieve is more focus, then try to focus on things you've been able to focus on to some extent previously, but stretch yourself just a little by aiming at realistic targets with measurable steps to them. And repeat.

Or enjoy being a dilettante, because that's really fine too.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:51 PM on December 28, 2011

Best answer: I keep shifting from one project/interest to the other, often moving on without fully finishing stuff. I think this is just another symptom of my procrastination but it doesn't have to be the case for you.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:11 PM on December 28, 2011

Response by poster: I don't learn the entire subject and then move on to another, I learn what I can in one week then my interest wanes. I don't want it to but it happens anyway. Whether it's a matter of focus or not I don't know. What I do know is it's damned hard to keep on track with my interests.

Foci for Analysis might be close to the mark with procrastination. I hadn't considered that to be a culprit.

Thank you bunderful for the link! Couldn't find this myself with a quick search. I'll give this a read through!
posted by cassini at 10:42 PM on December 28, 2011

I'm sort of the same way, but my interests always loop back to previous things I was interested in.

I wrote up a brief "framework for handling multiple interests" which is similar to what I do to manage multiple projects/interests.

In a nutshell - write them down & keep the list in front of you & keep referring to the list.
posted by MesoFilter at 3:08 AM on December 29, 2011

I'm like you, and for me, projects and interests that stayed are the ones I have to do daily, for example, gardening and cooking (otherwise the plants will die / I will not eat).
posted by leigh1 at 9:37 AM on December 29, 2011

Best answer: You and me both, bud. Hey, I'm 26 too! Queue the Twilight Zone music...

Anyway, it's a blessing and a curse. As someone up above mentioned, try to view it as a gift, or at least in a positive light. Being a "Jack of all trades, master of none" means that you're an intelligent person with a wide array of capabilities & potential. You could apply yourself in any of these areas of interest. It's just a matter of finding what sticks.

I know that doesn't make it easier to handle the frustration of being intellectually insatiable or attentionally overwhelmed. But I'd much rather be this way than have no interests whatsoever.

There's a continual temptation to attempt to translate every passing interest into a real passion. Don't. You're (we're) pretty young yet. Most of your life is still a blank canvas. Don't rush it. Trying new things is the spice of life, yknow? Most people can only have one or two true passions in life, I'd say. But it's okay to have lots of shallow interests on the side.

Out of curiosity, would you say you have at least one hobby/interest that is more serious, or a favorite, or something you imagine yourself always pursuing through your life? What interest would you put down when filling out a survey or job application?
posted by sprocket87 at 9:26 PM on December 29, 2011

Response by poster: Over the last year I've developed an intense passion for amerature Astronomy and general physics and cosmology. I'll go hard on going out whenever I can to peek through the telescope I bought and then go hard on reading books about physics and cosmology. That'll last for about a month then I'll get into something else. For instance I've always wanted to pick up electronics as a hobby so my friend and I are ordering some Arduino starter kits! So that's what I'm currently into.

I guess MetaFilter has definitely been the place for me as there's so much great information on all of these various hobbies I pick up.
posted by cassini at 10:24 AM on January 9, 2012

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