Sunday, May 22, 2011

Short attention span and maintaining enthusiasm... A quandry.

I have attention deficit disorder, and so it's pretty much par for the course that I have a short attention span.

I have a tendency to undertake interests and projects with enormous enthusiasm and then quickly tire of the same interests and projects. I hate committing myself long term to anything because I'm really afraid of letting people down when I eventually and predictably lose interest in whatever I was committed to. I realise this probably sounds terribly fickle and selfish, but I definitely don't feel that people should simply accept this about me. 

I guess I love the thrill and challenge of starting something - like, just recently, I started playing Gardens of Time on Facebook. It was fascinating and I loved the challenge of the hunt for objects in pictures. I loved setting up my Garden and designing it, but after the first fifteen or so levels (which I played with almost obsessive enthusiasm), it all started to just run too slowly. The learning curve had dropped away and I realised I couldn't just keep playing by building pretty gardens - I was going to have make them ugly and overcrowded to level up - I lost interest. Then friends were talking about it and the group enthusiasm was a little contagious so I went back in, but it felt like I was wading through molasses, the thrill wasn't there for me anymore, the game felt conquered.

I came to thinking about all of this after reading Leanne's blog at Deep Fried Fruit this morning about drive and having too much of it. This post really resonated with me, except that I lose drive, or get sidetracked, and I find it all very frustrating because I'm naturally a very driven person. I find being still, not having a goal, being passive, torturous - that is probably exactly what you would expect of a person with attention deficit disorder.

This short attention span often leads to me feeling as if I fail at a lot of things. I never really become very good at anything because to do that a person has to stick with beyond the acquisition of basic skills and know-how. Once I basically know how to do something, or have a basic level of achievement, I often want to move onto the next interest or skill.

I can knit a hat, scarf, socks (if I remember where I sourced my basic pattern) or a blanket but I can't knit a jumper or do anything fancy like lace knitting - and I lack the enthusiasm to really pour myself into learning those skills either.

I can blog and Twitter and Facebook with the best of them, but I fall short when it comes to networking because I lack the enthusiasm to really dedicate myself whole-heartedly to building a blog empire.

And so on, the list of things I've started enthusiastically and then let peter out when I was distracted by some new and shiny pursuit is as long one of my son's school yard tales (and believe me, they're epic)...

However, I don't want to give into to this facet of my condition because I am a driven person, and more than anything I'm driven to making something of my scrappy little patch of life. Maybe if I focus my efforts on devoting short spans of focus to one of five projects at a time, and give myself time limits so that I don't have the chance to become tired of one thing, maybe that would work? It would look something like this...

For the next hour I will work on Classroom Rep stuff, but once that hour is up, I will stop NO MATTER what stage I'm up to, and then I can pick things up again for an hour another day. For another hour I will brainstorm short story ideas for upcoming writing opportunities, but I will not start writing any of those ideas out in brief - this hour is only for brainstorming... And so on...

I'm going to try that this week, I'll let you know if I'm more productive than usual - with less burnout of enthusiasm...


2 comments:

Rachael said...

I pretty much have the exact same problem. It sucks!

Sif said...

Maybe you can try this approach with me and tell me if it works for you???

Teenagers and the failing parent...