I’ve been thinking lately about the reasons that I have trouble staying present, and I’ve realized that it’s not just kids and teenagers who have shorter attention spans these days. At 27 years old I’m part of the young generation, albeit at the older end of the spectrum. As a Freshman in college the year the school got their first broadband connection, I spent my college years sending Instant Messages to friends, and even to my roommate. I read over 30 blogs that I track with Bloglines.com, but I don’t like “long” posts. I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, even though I love the movies and work as a Children’s Librarian, because they are “too long.” I would have devoured them all as a child, but I don’t read many books these days… I just collect them, and that’s a waste of space if I never read them!
I know that children’s minds are always growing, and there is a lot of information out there about increasing children’s attention spans. But I wasn’t sure about my own, so of course I Googled it. One of the pages I came across is this one on eHow. Some of the tips are obvious, like getting a good night’s sleep. I know that when I’m tired, I’m also cranky and short-tempered, and I don’t have the patience to do anything. Other suggestions are things like eating breakfast, turning off the TV, and doing activities that make you think, like reading.
One of the most interesting suggestions, which I found on a different site, is to print out articles you want to read, and then read them in hard copy rather than online. That way you focus better, and you don’t have the many distractions the computer has. I don’t think I could do that with my blogs, since there are a lot of posts I can easily read online. But for longer articles it will definitely be worth it (especially since we recycle paper at work).
Another thing that helps is meditation, and this is actually something I’ve been “wanting” to do for a long time, but I’ve always felt I “can’t” because “I don’t know how.” I’ve decided that I can procrastinate forever, but the best way to do it is to just start, and if it doesn’t seem like it’s working I can tweak my methods and explore other techniques. So today during my lunch break, I’m going to find a quiet place (not hard in a library), set my phone’s alarm for ten minutes, and attempt to clear my mind and meditate. I’ll post later to say how it went.