Thursday, April 24, 2014


Work is hard
Distractions are plentiful
And Time is short

Adam Hochschild

I was reading a really interesting New York Times article about education recently. I was half way through the article when I decided that I knew what it was saying and moved on to a different article. Again I read half of the next and moved on. The initials TL:DR popped into my head. And that's when I knew I had a problem.

I hate the initials TL:DR, which stand for Too Long, Didn't Read. I hate them because of what they say about our society, about our loss of concentration. I should be able to read a 2 page article without getting impatient. If I can't concentrate for more than 5 minutes, that scares me. I shouldn't have to have my information fed to me in less than 140 characters. Heck, I shouldn't have information fed to me at all. I should actively seek it.

About three years ago I noticed that I'm losing my ability to focus, both when reading and in life in general. I'm struggling more with concentration, a vital part of learning. I jump from thought to thought.  It's more obvious at work, if I'm not interested in a topic. I just can't bring myself to think in-depth about things. It started slow, barely noticeable. I would put my book down after twenty minutes. I would grumble as I went to the second page of an article. Now I get impatient with a YouTube video that lasts more than 7 minutes. None of this is good for me. I want to create things in my life. I want to study and learn. I have to have both time and focus to do those things. So I'm going to pare down, get rid of some of those distractions that keep me from focusing. First to go: social media.

I won't be shutting down my Facebook page, like Jeff did, but I won't really be spending much time there. I feel guilty for that. I know that there will be birthdays that I'll miss, and celebrations that I won't know about. I know that I'll miss updates from friends but so much of Facebook lately seems to be recycled shared posts. I'll still probably check once a week or so just to see what each of my friends is up to, but I won't be responding. And I'm sorry for that. I'm weaning myself off Twitter, something that is harder than I expected. I'm even staying away from news sources like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed. I want to refocus, and those sites aren't geared towards focus.

I don't want to lose contact with people so I'll be focusing more on email in the future. I'll still check personal messages on Facebook. I'll try to stay in touch with people. And I'll hopefully be blogging more. I want to focus on writing. I want to study more. I'm hoping that dropping some of the distractions from my life, will let me focus more on personal connections, not just liking something you've shared from another person's page. As the quote above says, distractions are plentiful and life is short. I'm going to see how I use my time as I strip out those distractions. I may just waste it, but I'll be doing it in hopefully more constructive ways.

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