When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools. One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.
Before playing the concentration game, let's ask some questions, have you ever felt that you don't pay attention as much as you should, often distracted, you don't finish projects you started, you quickly lose interest doing things. Well, that doesn't necessarily mean that you have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Although ADD and HDHD cases have been increasing in the last decades, many people (mostly kids) were misdiagnosed of having ADD or ADHD, and had to take unnecessary medicine to treat a problem they didn't have to begin with. Sometimes people are distracted/ lacking attention for many other reasons, for example when living a fast paced life style, with too many things to do, and too many things to remember, it's easy to abandon projects you started, and it's not uncommon to be distracted (because your focus is shifted to other things you might consider more important), or you may not pay attention because a lot of things are going on inside your head.
Attention is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. Examples include listening carefully to what someone is saying while ignoring other distractions in the room (such as people talking, programs on TV. Sometimes attention shifts to matters unrelated to the external environment, a phenomenon referred to as mind-wandering or "spontaneous thought". Attention is one of the most intensely studied topics within psychology and cognitive neuroscience.
William James, in his monumental Principles of Psychology (1890), remarked "Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought, focalization, concentration, of consciousness are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatterbrained state."
Here is one Concentration Game that you might like. To begin the attention game / reflex test after clicking on the link you will have to wait for a message to ask you if you're ready, once you click ok the game will start. You have to start clicking on the green buttons as fast as possible, if you take too long or if you click on the wrong square the color will change to red (meaning that it's a miss). Keep clicking until the 60 seconds are over, can you score 55 points or better?
Here is a little riddle attributed to Albert Einstein, and requires a lot of attention and concentration to solve it. Give it a try!
There are 5 houses in a row, and in five different colors. In each house lives a person from a different country. Each person drinks a certain drink, plays a certain game, and keeps a certain pet. No two people drink the same drink, play the same game or have the same pet.
The British lives in a red house.
The Swedish keeps dogs.
The Danish drinks tea.
The green house is on the left of the white house.
The green house owner drinks coffee.
The person who plays tennis rears birds.
The owner of the yellow house plays chess.
The man living in the house right in the center drinks milk.
The Norwegian lives in the first house.
The man who plays poker lives next to the man who keeps cats.
The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who plays chess.
The man who plays billiards drinks lemonade.
The German plays golf.
The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
The man who plays poker has a neighbor who drinks orange juice.
Although most scientists accept that attention can be split, strong proof has remained elusive. And there is still no widely accepted definition of attention more concrete than that given in the James quote above. This lack of progress has led many observers to speculate that attention refers to many separate processes without a common mechanism.
Techniques used against lack of attention and lack of interest in projects:
- Make frequent use of lists, reminders, notes to self.
- Break down large tasks into small ones.
- Attach deadlines to the small parts. Then, eventually, the large task will get done. This is one of the simplest and most powerful of all structuring devices. Often a large task will feel overwhelming to many people person. The mere thought of trying to perform the task makes some turn away. On the other hand, if the large task is broken down into small parts, each component may feel quite manageable.
- Prioritize. Avoid procrastination. When things get busy, sometimes we lose perspective: when things get crazy around you just prioritize. Take a deep breath. Put first things first. You have to really discipline yourself in order to lead a successful life.
- Notice how and where you work best: whether in a noisy room, on the train, listening to music, whatever.
- Know that it is O.K. to do two things at once: carry on a conversation and knit, or take a shower and do your best thinking, or jog and plan a business meeting.
- Leave time between engagements to gather your thoughts.
- Keep a notepad in your car, by your bed, and in your pocketbook or jacket. You never know when a good idea will hit you, or you'll want to remember something else.
- Choose "good", helpful addictions such as exercise.
- Avoid premature closure of a project, a conflict, a deal, or a conversation. Don't "cut to the chase" too soon, even though you're itching to.
"Tell me to what you pay attention, and I will tell you who you are." - Jose Ortega y Gasset.
Now a little attention game, without using a pen and paper, and by only looking at the numbers below, can you find out which line if read backward would look like:
Original line: 8443443974858844076656359947343993994576960645103459636
Only one among the following lines looks similar to the line above if written backwards, can you find it?
The point is to increase focus because in this little you will try to stay focused while checking the line backward and you would know if you don't focus for a single second then you might have to start again.
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