I’m really good at focusing for long periods of time doing two things: coding or playing guitar. I can easily do those for hours at a time. I’m not so good at it for anything else. I’ve been working on improving that.
This weekend I was able to finish two books, reading over 400 pages, and a video game, the second game I’ve ever actually finished in my life. A year ago this would’ve been unimaginable to me. It used to be really hard for me to sit through a 30 page chapter of a book, and my gaming sessions were limited to one or two 10-minute matches on an online FPS.
Here’s what worked for me.
I started listening to albums of music straight through. No skipping or picking-and-choosing songs. I picked an album of the day1 and listened to it until I was done. Albums are usually about an hour long, so that would be my focus time. My sister got me a turntable for my birthday so it was even easier for me to do this with vinyl records.
I practiced. A lot. I set a bunch of goals and completed them2, and it got easier every time. What gets measured gets managed.
I took a break from social media. Sort of. I still log on occasionally so I can check messages. Besides that I’m not reading anything on there. I follow over 1700 accounts on Twitter so there’s always something there for me to get distracted with. Cutting that out helped a lot. When I get back on Twitter in a few days I think I’ll do a purge of the list of accounts I’m following.
I think what ultimately mattered was recognizing that this is something I want to change in my life and actually doing something about it. Apparently I do this more than most people (more on that later). Woohoo, personal improvement!