Concentration 2.0
Are you easily distracted? Why is it difficult for some people to stay focused? What improves concentration? Is it good to do several things at the same time or is it better to focus on one task?
Vocabulary
  • To distract (verb) - to make someone stop giving their attention to something.
  • Flit (verb) - to fly or move quickly and lightly.
  • Notification (noun) - a message that is automatically sent to you on your mobile phone or computer.
  • Compel (verb) - to force someone to do something.
  • Task-orientated (adj.) - focusing on the completion of particular tasks as a measure of success.
  • Work away (at something) (phrasal verb) - to put effort (toward some task or activity).
  • To prioritize (verb) - to decide which of a group of things are the most important so that you can deal with them first.
  • Compromised (verb) - to allow your principles to be less strong or your standards or morals to be lower.
  • Executive (noun) - relating to making decisions and managing businesses, or suitable for people with important jobs in business.
  • Work at sth (phrasal verb) - to try hard to achieve something.
  • Remove (verb) - to take something or someone away from somewhere, or off something.
  • Draw away (phrasal verb) - to move away or ahead.
  • Chip away at sth (phrasal verb) - to gradually reduce something so that it becomes smaller or weaker.
  • Urgent (adj.) - very important and needing attention immediately.
Questions and answers
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M: Rory, when is it hard for you to stay focused?

R: Ah, well, I tend to get distracted when I have about a million things to do. I often flit from one task to the next without any sort of logical order to it, which isn't good for getting things done quickly. But I still do get them done. So perhaps it isn't such a big deal.

M: Are you easily distracted?

R: I suppose that depends on what the distraction is, really. Generally, I'm quite good at shutting out loud noises and background goings-on. However, if there's a message notification in front of me on my phone, then I'm almost compelled to investigate. That and I already mentioned that other tasks will distract me. So it's sort of a competition of productive tasks.

M: What do you do to stay focused?

R: Well, I like to think I'm generally a responsible, hardworking person, and I'm quite task-orientated. So I like getting the job done. Those character traits more than anything keep me working away until things get done. Plus, I like to imagine what I can do once all the hard work is out of the way.

M: Why is it difficult for some people to stay focused?

R: There are all kinds of reasons. I suppose the main ones are that they have a lot going on in their lives, and it's hard to prioritize, or they might have difficulty prioritizing in general, due to compromised executive function. Others have just never been taught the skill of working at things until they get done. And they give up after a very limited period of time.

M: What improves concentration?

R: Generally, a lack of distraction is the most useful thing. So if you have a minimalist approach to things going on, then you could probably focus more. At least that would be how it works in my case. You can also remove things that are drawing your attention away from what you should be doing. Or you could move yourself if you can.

M: Is it good to do several things at the same time? Or is it better to focus on one task?
R: Well, I think that's probably dependent on what it is you have to do and the kind of person you are. I mean, sometimes it's fine to just jump around from one task to another rather than chip away at one thing, especially if it's taking an eternity. On the other hand, there might be tasks that are particularly urgent that need to be done right away. So obviously, if you can do one thing, then focusing on one thing will be quite useful in this sense.

M: Thank you, Rory, for your focused answers!
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