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This episode’s vocabulary
- To multitask (verb) — to deal with more than one task at the same time.
- Distraction (noun) — a thing that prevents someone from concentrating on something else.
- Stray (adj.) — occurring at random or sporadically
- To lose track (phrase) — to stop being aware of how something is changing, what someone is doing, etc.
- To cancel out (phrasal verb) — to take away the effect of one thing by doing another thing that has the opposite effect.
- Simultaneous (adj.) — happening or being done at exactly the same time.
- To stay focused (phrase) — to simply persist with the task at hand. To continue to work towards whatever it is that you need to do and ensure that you stay concentrated on that one activity.
- Self-directed (adj.) — making your own decisions and organizing your own work rather than being told what to do by managers, teachers, etc.
- The matter at hand (phrase) - the issue, topic, or task that is currently being discussed or is the current priority.
We have also added these words to a “Quizlet” set for you to study and revise in your free time: bit.ly/quizlets04e08
Questions and Answers
Maria: Rory, let's talk about concentration. When is it hard for you to concentrate?
Rory: I think probably the hardest time is when I'm multitasking. Whether it's a conscious choice or not, I usually have to multitask because people are talking to me and I'm working at the same time. It is always hard. I think... I think it's hard for everybody, to be honest. Some people think they can, but I don't think anyone can really. There's always one task that suffers.
Maria: What may distract you when you are trying to stay focused?
Rory: People talking. All the time. It's the main distraction. And sometimes I'll have a stray thought that I kind of run away with... but it is usually people talking. Whether they're talking to me or talking next to me, it's extremely distracting and I can't get away from it. So it's a real problem sometimes when I... Especially when I need to focus on something.
Maria:: In what situations do you need to concentrate?
Rory: It's usually when I'm making assessments, whether it's making assessments of people's language levels or lessons or assessments of how situations are going to go. Um, it's also important that I concentrate when something is boring. Like, if I'm in a meeting and it's boring, but it's essential, like if people are complaining and going on and on, but you have to listen to people at those times, even though they're being a bit boring.
Maria: When do you need to be focused?
Rory: I suppose when I study. Especially if I have maths, because I actually really need to build up my ability to focus there, because I often lose track of whatever is the calculations that I'm supposed to be making. And I also have to focus at the gym as well. You've got to pay attention or you could end up hurting yourself or other people around you if you're not careful.
Maria: What do you do to improve your concentration?
Rory: I remove distractions. Usually physically remove them. So for example, if I'm at my work, I'll only have my work on my desk. The phone will be away in my bag or I'll wear my earbuds to cancel out any noise that could be distracting... And it makes people think that I'm busy listening to something, even though I'm actually not listening to anything. I just don't want to be disturbed.
Maria: What do you do to help you concentrate?
Rory: In addition to what I just mentioned, I always like to have a set of goals or targets for the day to aim at, and I know that I'll feel really bad if I don't hit them. So that really helps me concentrate on whatever the matter at hand is.
Maria: Is it easy for you to do two things simultaneously?
Rory: I like to think I can, but the reality is the... Well, like I said at the beginning, one task, when you're multitasking, is probably not being done well. "So no, it isn't" is the short answer.
Maria: Is difficult for you to stay focused on something?
Rory: I think that depends on what the environment's like at the time. For example, if it's quiet, then I can usually concentrate with no problems at all. And it usually is quiet in the office, which is really helpful for me and I'm normally quite self directed as well. So that helps me stay focused... No problem at all. But if it's loud and there's a lot going on, then it can be quite difficult.
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