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Difficulty focusing (#1065)

Topics/tags: Autobiographical

I’m finding that I have difficulty focusing these days. There are, of course, different kinds of difficulties. There’s the big picture issue of having difficulty focusing on major tasks, such as the rewrites I need to be doing on my manuscripts or some of the class prep I need to be doing. Those I blame on the normal external factors: I’m spending time advising students, receiving and sending administrative email [1], although I also admit that my distractibility [3] has ramped up.

Some times I’m having difficulty focusing because I have a carefully balanced sequence of small activities in mind (e.g., the five things I have to do next while preparing a meal, the four steps necessary to deal with a student question, some related set of edits for a musing [4] or a paper) and something distracts me so that I lose the sequence and have to restart it, which often means that I miss something or get orders wrong. What distracts me? All sorts of things. An alarm going off to remind me to do something. A member of my family talking to me. A pop-up message on my screen. Music stopping. An interesting email subject when I’m looking for another message. As I said, all sorts of things. I guess these are natural, too. I often work with too many thoughts in my head, and interruptions break the flow.

Then there are the things that worry me. Here’s one example. Yesterday, I needed one of our baking dishes, which we store at the top of our kitchen shelves. Our step-stool was in the other room and getting to it would involve interrupting one of my family members. So I did the only rational thing [5]; I used a kitchen chair instead. We have nice, solid, wooden kitchen chairs that I know can hold me [6]. So far so good. But once I got the pan down, I realized that the chair was in the way. And so I put the chair away. In the bathroom. Where we normally store the step-stool [7]. It was only when I tried to put the kitchen chair behind the bathroom door that I realized it was the wrong place for it. And it was certainly harder to get out of the bathroom than it was to get into the bathroom. I’m somewhat amazed about how long for me to realize that I was in incorrect autopilot mode.

I also feel that I’m increasingly encountering that experience of going into the other room to get something, but forgetting what I was intending to get once I got there. I think we all have that experience. I know that I’ve had it for as long as I can remember; at times the only way I can only retrieve the memory by placing myself and the world around me as they were when I made the initial plan. Even that doesn’t work all the time. Anyway, while such experiences bother me, they don’t usually concern me. But I feel like the number is increasing. Is it that I am keeping more in my head and things drop out? I’m not sure. But it’s strange.

Then there are the less worrisome, but still stupid, things. For example, yesterday I turned off the volume on my not-so-smart phone so that it would not interrupt Middle Son’s awesome senior vocal recital [8]. This morning, I slept through my alarm because ….

Anyway, it appears my muse primarily made me write this piece because she thought you would be amused by the image of me walking into the bathroom with a large wooden kitchen chair and the turning around first trying to figure out why I’d brought the kitchen chair to the bathroom and then trying to navigate my way out.

On that note, did I ever tell you about my experience hanging shades in the master bedroom when Michelle and I first moved in? [9]

Postscript: Speaking of forgotten things. I completely forgot to watch Jon Richardson at 7:00 p.m. tonight while I was writing this musing [10]. The last ten minutes or so were great, though.

Postscript: If I end up writing the same musing tomorrow, please forgive me. And if I wrote a similar musing yesterday, just be amused.

[1] It’s only fair that I help Jerod with some chair stuff. Plus, I’m a busybody who likes to ask questions. I try not to ask too many [2].

[2] I’m certainly asking fewer than I would in normal times.

[3] No, Mx. Spell-Checker, not my destructibility. I suppose that’s also increased, but it feels like everyone’s has.

[4] How many times do I have to tell Grammarly that Change a musing to amusing is an inaccurate suggestion, one that I find not the least bit a musing?

[5] No, I did not wait until later to get the dish. And no, I did not decide to interrupt the family member.

[6] Unlike, say, folding chairs that collapse under you if you stand on them wrong.

[7] Our first-floor bathroom is right off the kitchen. It makes a nice storage area. When we moved in, there were no first-floor bathrooms in the house. It was our first addition, but not our last.

[8] Watching a delayed video stream while listening live is a very strange experience.

[9] Fortunately, my muse is not forcing me to reveal those details. At least not today.

[10] Or is that musing this writing?

Version 1.0 of 2020-05-08.