I once spent a week organizing seed beads by color. My box had been tipped over during a move, and everything had gotten mixed up, so I sat down with a pair of tweezers and sorted them out one by one until I’d organized all the beads by ROYGBIV. I don’t remember finding it tedious. It was something that needed doing, and I sat down and did it until I’d finished.
This ability to focus has, for the most part, served me well. It meant I did well at school because I’d sit down and get through all my homework without getting distracted. It means that I get through books in a shorter amount of time (measured in days) than the average person because I can read for hours without noticing the time pass. It means that when I’m in the writing zone, I am seriously in the writing zone.
But there’s a downside to hyper focus. I call it the binge cycle. Every few months, for a few days I’ll get completely engrossed in a single TV show or comic book series. I have (really, guys, this is something I need to do) to get through the entire thing. I forget to eat at regular times. My sleep cycle goes out the window because midnight isn’t that late (says the girl who goes to bed at 9 pm most nights) and there are only 20 minutes left in the episode or 10 pages in the chapter. And do I need to shower on the weekends, or get dressed or go grocery shopping? I’m sure you get the picture.
This weekend, I was going to harness my hyper focus into knocking a big chunk out of my revisions. Sadly, it was not to be. Instead, I spent three days watching series 7 of X Factor UK (Yes, that’s the year One Direction placed third). I did manage to get some good revisions in, but that was after I watched the entire series and then scrawled through Youtube for One Direction interviews and clips and scoured Wikipedia for information of the member’s current solo projects, etc..
I’m going to pause here and say, despite what I wrote in the previous paragraph, I’m not an obsessive One Direction fan. I like their music, but it’s not my favorite. I think it’s fun and their story makes me smile. And that’s the root of it: I get pulled in by a good narrative, and I’m lost.
I was planning to revise and write a blog on a different topic, and I was going to finish reading Arabella and the Battle of Venus by David D. Levine (great series, highly recommended). Instead, I watched YouTube videos of a boy band I don’t even care about much. So I guess, what I’m looking for is other people’s experiences with hyperfocus. What embarrassing things have snared your attention? How do you pull yourself out to refocus on something productive?
Thank you for reading and please help me!