If your brain is feeling swamped by the news, Zoom meetings, and Whatsapp groups—you aren’t alone. Here’s where I look at first when I feel that my attention span is shot.
Information overload. When there is always a new piece of information or book or link to click, that demands attention and takes mental energy to process. This is a particularly big one because we spend so much time consuming via our news and social media channels.
I’ve learned that at times I have to shut it all down and get intentional about those channels. I keep a list in the Notes app on my phone of new media—whether it’s the Netflix show everyone is talking about or a new book that I would like to read. That way I’ve captured it and when time and mental space allow, I can move on to the next thing.
Decision overload. All those decisions big and small with work and our personal and family lives add up. I tend to hang onto making too many decisions because as a recovering perfectionist I default to micromanaging. This is another big area, especially on the home-front, that I think about when I start feeling fatigued and less effective in my day-to-day. I know it means I either have to delegate some responsibility and/or clear my plate and ensure I have some downtime.
Obligation overload. Nothing eats up mental energy more than when we spend too much time bogged down in activities that don’t feel meaningful—all the busyness of day-to-day life. I’ve had a lot less of those activities since the pandemic began and this has been one of those silver linings that I’ve noticed has come out of the past year. Not having all those extras—whether it’s the pressure of a social obligation or driving kids to and from activities—I’ve felt a difference in my mental clarity.
Overall, there are certain high-performance principles that I always go back to restore and maintain focus and those are: sleep, a healthy diet with lots of healthy protein and fats to support a healthy brain, outdoor exercise, and meditation/mindfulness strategies. I personally like the Calm app for short meditations and I do box breathing a couple of times daily.