Focus | Filtering Out Distraction and Maintaining Attention

by - 2:58 PM

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday who was sharing a similar struggle as I had last semester and a strategy that helped me and I thought I'd share with you.

Our conversation was on our decline in our ability to filter out distraction and focus our attention, most notably while lesson planning. Last semester even the casual thought of another task, an email notification, the mentioning of the score of an athletic event or funny video, or even research articles relevant to my field would all derail my ability to focus. This required me to carry more work home than I would like and affected my time at home with family and the time I would get into bed at night.

I came upon a study last semester that our ability to filter out distraction and focus our attention is not fixed and can be improved with practice.

The strategy that helped me most and I still use every day is to set a timer on my phone and focus my attention for a fixed amount of time. During that time, my email is closed, web browser is closed, phone is across the room and I do focused work until the timer goes off. Then I get up, walk around, check the news or social media, and set another timer. This began with 10 minute blocks and has progressed to focused work for 30 minute blocks at a time (I don't think I am going to push it further because I don't think we should sit for more than 30 minutes, but that is another story)

I hope this strategy may be helpful for someone! I'd love to hear any other thoughts you have on the topic or strategies you find helpful to filter out distraction and maintain your attention on a task!

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