The internets has ruined my brain and ability to concentrate. How can I relearn how to focus and be less distracted?
July 30, 2012 12:37 PM   Subscribe

The internets has ruined my brain and my ability to concentrate. How can I relearn how to focus and be less distracted?

I use the internet for everything. In fact, as a result of my job I am on the internet all day (literally 9 hours for work and several just browsing). Surfing the web has pretty much become my form of entertainments. As such, I feel like this has given way to almost ADD type behaviors.

For instance, I could be typing a work email and the middle of a sentence go off to google something.

Various web timers,shutting off social media, and closing my email wont work since my job requires me to respond to emails and also has a social media/web site maintenance component to it.

Help me reclaim my focus.
posted by burlsube to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
Half an hour of yoga a day.
Reading real physical books, fun and/or escapist content, no 'chore' stuff.
Setting your timer on 40 minutes when you're doing real-life tasks. Don't stop doing the task before the timer goes.

That's pretty much it. After a while, you will consciously be able to switch between modes.
posted by Namlit at 12:43 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Investigate the Pomodoro technique. Basic idea is that you allow yourself to goof off at fixed intervals so that you can get shit done in the interim.
posted by blue t-shirt at 12:58 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Read books instead of surfing. Study a discipline, i.e. make the effort to learn a new subject or master a new hobby. You want more focus and application? Then do things that require focus and application. The brain is a muscle. Exercise it if you want it to be strong.
posted by Decani at 1:23 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have sometimes found it helpful to keep a pen and paper next to my computer to jot down any random thing I might want to Google, as well as any tasks that come to mind (e.g. bills I have forgotten to pay). Then, I can deal with the list at an appropriate time (e.g. when I'm at lunch, or at least when my boss is at lunch ;-)) Very often the intense curiosity will have passed by then and I won't bother with the random Wikipedia surfing.
posted by Cheese Monster at 3:01 PM on July 30, 2012 [7 favorites]

Even if your job requires you to be on email and social media, you can still set fixed boundaries around that (say, 20 minutes off, 3 minutes on, 20 minutes off, etc.) and address the sense of control and focus that you're struggling with. If 20 minutes feels like too much to start with, try 10. The point is to feel like you are in charge rather than that it is something happening to you.
posted by judith at 4:11 PM on July 30, 2012

I actually do have ADHD but have been on medication for the last two years which puts me at about your level of focus. And I also work online most of the day. Here are some things I've been doing lately to improve my focus and feel generally less internet-strung-out (some have already been mentioned):

Yoga - I signed up for a 6-week, 2x/week intro series and supplemented that with a few minutes of poses/day. Made a huge difference - I really need to get back to that!

Reading actual books - I used to read a lot, but the internet had started to eclipse real books for me, and I was missing real books. I got a kindle, which somehow helped, and got myself sucked into the Game of Thrones books, which really helped. So a good, thick, engrossing book?

Timers: someone else mentioned the pomodoro method. I've been using the similar Unfuck Your Habitat, which is ostensibly for cleaning the house, but works for just about everything. I downloaded the iphone app, which has a nifty timer feature - it counts down 20 minutes for you to work on a task, and then gives you a 10 minute break.

This is great for projects at home, but also great for work. I've started going down my to-do list, picking one thing to do, and working at that - and only that - for 20 minutes. I've actually been shocked at what can get done in 20 minutes when I'm not doing anything else at all. I only take a five-minute break (between 20-minute stints) at work, but it's still nice to get that little refresh, and even with the breaks, I'm shocked at how much more I'm getting done this way. Oh, and I don't check my email during those 20 minute blocks - that's really key.

Oh, and if you're looking for ideas on how to spend less time online, one thing that has been really helpful is that I have a "no internet for my first 2 hours at home" rule. It's only for those first hours, but I'll often find that by the time the 2-hour mark rolls around, I'm either involved with something else (if I got home early) or it's almost time for bed anyway (if I went out after work). Although, um, I broke that rule today, which is why I'm posting right now! But it works when I stick to it. :)
posted by lunasol at 7:31 PM on July 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Singletask as much as possible. Multitask as little as possible.
posted by morninj at 9:39 PM on July 30, 2012

Meng's book, "Search Inside Yourself", might be worth a try. It's a primer on meditation, written by an engineer.
posted by talldean at 1:12 PM on July 31, 2012

Start your own business! No, really... Starting your own business and becoming passionate about something you can call your own can divert your focus. Refocusing your energy may make you a real success on your own, plus you won't ever have to worry about workplace constraints. If not, try to become more interested in your current work or find a place you feel more connected to. - Kanaan Minks
posted by kanaan_minks at 7:52 PM on August 19, 2012

« Older All things bright and beautiful, an interative...   |   Accounting for Pennies Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.