Hi, I’m Ryan and I’m a scatterbrain.
Sure, I have my moments of clarity and concentration, but way too often I find my mind unable to lock in on any one thought or task, instead swirling them all together with distractions and future plans, hoping that they’ll coagulate into something I can work with.
But focus doesn’t work like that. It likes to check things off, one at a time. It’s calm, collected, stations in the present. In a way it’s like there’s this inner battle between chaos & order. Too often I let the chaos rule, and it results in unproductive days (which I hate) and a plethora or hours-long rabbit trails. That’s right I said a plethora.
In this digital age, where only a couple clicks separate work and flash mob videos, focus and attention have become scarce commodities. Honestly if you even read this far without checking your phone I’m impressed. There are a million things vying for our attention at any given time, be it in the real world or the cyber one. It’s a lot. So yeah, I’m a casualty of distraction’s war on my mind more often than I’d like to admit.
Since becoming aware of this state (awareness is the first step), I’ve begun to come up with some hacks to get my focus back on track, so I can pick up slack and keep my brain intact without letting my attention fall through the cracks. *Ahem* They don’t call me wordy dirty for nothing (nobody calls me that).
One simple thing I have found to keep me in the zone (not the twilight zone) is to leave my phone in another room (or turn it off) while I’m focusing on a particular project. “What?” you say, “Ryan, how do you capture the moments for your Instagram story and post funny hashtags with you phone OFF?” Well it turns out “pics, or it didn’t happen” is a myth (I know I was just as surprised) and that you aren’t going to lose half your followers by getting off the social media grid for an hour. This was a shock to me, and something I still need to remind myself often. Like every day. Sometimes twice.
Another trick to turn my hocus pocus into a magnum opus by way of focus is to define one thing that I’d like to get done. That’s right, ONE THING. My scatterbrain rebels and says “but why do one when you can TRY and accomplish 10 things? Hmmmm? We WANTSS IT, PRECIOUS!! [Gollum voice]” That’s when I have to break out the comeback of “I’d rather do one thing well, than a bunch of things mediocre” (take that, scatterbrain! (Also, is it weird that I have this many convos with myself?)). It’s easy to feel snowed under when going after multiple projects at once. So I’ve been trying to focus my efforts on one thing before I move on. This can be tricky as an artist because I’m constantly getting new ideas and wanting to run with them. What I end up with is hundreds of voice memos on my phone that just sit there, untouched. If I have an idea I think is a keeper, I’ll try and capture the essence of it at the time, but then I move on, or risk “rabbit-trail-it is” (Medical term). Look, is it nice to start ten new songs in a day? Sure, but you know what’s even better? Finishing an entire song.
One more thing I’ve recently been employing are positive affirmations. Taking a few minutes before I begin a task to reassure myself that I’m in the right headspace. Things like “I am focused on my task”, “I’m grounded in this moment”, or “I am not thinking about Cardi B’s hot new music video” (that one sometimes can have the reverse effect). It can feel a little new age-y at first (summon that third eye, damnit) but it’s really just a tool to bring your full attention back from whatever long dark taverns it may have been loitering in. And my attention is known to frequent some doozies.
So yeah, I’m a scatterbrain. But me and focus are starting to see things more eye to eye.