The latest issue of Oprah Magazine features an article promising “A no-fail plan for the chronically distracted.” I didn’t finish it.
It was likely a good read, because, you know, Oprah. Anything stamped with an “O” is usually researched and vetted by a team of professionals. The actual consumption is left to us.
It’s ironic that I stopped reading the glossy advice not even halfway through, because it was meant to help me focus. I think what happened was by the fifth paragraph, the phone rang. During the call, I was pacing. My eyes were darting around. I noticed dust on a book shelf. The call ended. I decided to Swiff the house, but soon realized the mundane task would be more tolerable with background music. I couldn’t find the CD I had in mind. All was okay because the phone rang again. The rest of that afternoon I continued to bounce around like a pinball. An average day.
Have I mentioned I’m up for honorary chairperson of the Chronically Distracted, Midwestern Division? But before I go on with this topic, let me get more coffee first and check Twitter.
(Ten minutes pass.)
I’m back. What was I doing? Pondering distraction, yes. It’s getting worse with me. I don’t know if this attention span issue is just a phase, or if there’s been a convergence of life events bringing an inborn tendency to the surface.
It could be the almost-empty nest. Warning: The Great Offspring Bolt slowly creeps up on moms and dads and then at some point hits us with a KAPOW. I think I’m in mid-KAPOW.
Here’s what happens. When the kids start driving themselves everywhere, parents notice the calendar of busy-ness becomes speckled with a little more white space. In my case, the first one left for college last summer and the second one is about to, so now there are even more blank areas on the old planner. A calendar that was once jam-packed with household hieroglyphics now looks like a snowy field in the middle of Nebraska.
My scheduled distractions of the last two decades — playgroups, toddler survival, music lessons, soccer, basketball, Scuts, school performances, orthodontics, driving lessons, PTO meetings — POOF! Almost every built-in zip-zoom activity has been Dysoned from my life. I am now Sandra Bullock in “Gravity,” floating around untethered, but without 70 million dollars. So it’s time to focus on other things.
Hold that thought. The email alert just dinged. (Denise checks email. It’s spam, which reminds her to grab lunch. Thirty minutes pass.)
Back again. As I was saying, a sudden schedule vacuum is a bad thing for highly distractible people. It puts us in a phase of self-discovery, where, instead of focusing on school fundraisers, which … oh, man. Just remembered. I still have one final auction gig to work on this month.
But I digress. (Personal mantra. Like it?)
Maybe the problem is as simple as too much coffee consumption. I’m just juiced, that’s all. This gal is hepped up like a shoe freak with a gold card at a Manolo Blahnik trunk show. It’s the caffeine.
(With that trigger, Denise momentarily steps away to top off her coffee mug.)
Okay, one more theory and then I’ll go. Constant distraction could be a reaction to technology. My attention span might have been retrained by computers and phones. Everything is instant and at my fingertips. What’s trending? Who’s that? Click. Click. Tap. Tap. Instant gratification.
But am I really chronically distracted? Doubt it. Anything chronic sounds like a long-term commitment.