Sometimes I am amazed that for a somewhat intelligent person, I have such a hard time staying focused on my work. Isn’t that a sign of being weak-minded or incompetent?
Nope, good news! I can blame it on HSP! 🙂
A recent article by HSP expert Peter Messerschmidt, “Time Management, Work and the Highly Sensitive Person” explains how to adjust your habits to HSP-proof your home office.
First of all — Does this sound like you?
You are sitting at your desk at home, doing work on the computer, when you notice the tissue box on your desk is empty. You stop typing mid-sentence, get up, and throw out the old tissue box. Then sit down back to work. A few minutes later, you are distracted by a picture hanging next to your computer from a recent vacation. You google the name of the vacation spot and spend the next 15 minutes reading about it. Back to work! A few minutes later again, you feel like a snack, so you head to the kitchen and notice the floor is dusty, so you decide to sweep it really quick. Ok, time to focus! After a few more minutes of working, you notice a program shortcut on your desktop that you haven’t used in a while. So you spend the next ten minutes going through your programs and deleting things you don’t need. You are not getting much work done!
I am ashamed to admit that that is sooooo me! I don’t think I even realize just how many things I get distracted by and how much time I waste!
Because HSPs are easily distracted by things around them (like an old tissue box or vacation photo) and annoyed by little things (like a dirty kitchen floor or unused desktop shortcuts), we need to work smarter. Not harder.
So acknowledge the fact that you get distracted easily… then minimize those distractions! Look around your work area and see what you can do to help yourself. Clear out clutter. I’ve installed software to stop myself from visiting certain websites when I’m working. The article mentioned a person who used a dedicated work laptop with only a Word processor but no internet connection when they wanted to focus on distraction-free writing.
And if you know there is a certain time of the day you are the most productive (for me, it’s late at night) specifically plan your day so you are working during those times. Take advantage of them!
Like I’ve said many times before, once you acknowledge your HSP traits and accept them, you can adjust your life to better fit you. You might feel like it isn’t “normal”, but who cares. You gotta do what works for YOU.
I wonder if this sort of fits into the whole procrastination phenomena.
Oh dear, I am so happy to hear that I am not the only one with that kind of problem.
Reading the article is soooo me! A struggle between the distractions and being focused. I keep earplugs with me for some help with the distractions, it does make a difference.
Hi Kelly, I’ve been thinking for a while that I needed to email you to ask if you would do a show on trying to focus when working, so I was very happy when I saw this show topic come up on my podcast app. This issue is how I discovered I was a HSP, I had huge issues with both temperature and concentration. After lots of googling about temperature sensitivity (and blood tests at the doctors, I honestly thought I had a thyroid problem), I eventually figured out that I was a HSP but I am especially temperature sensitive. This has helped me immensely in concentration and focus – I need to get the sensory aspects right before I can concentrate.
– Temperature – fan, right clothes, heating, and maybe if I can’t cope with the house at all I drive to the local library and work from there. Cold water helps me concentrate too, just the temperature has to be very cold and my brain works better.
– Sound – noise sensitivity is helped by noise cancelling headphones or just safety ear muffs from the hardware store. I have also researched and discovered that game music (from video games) is best for concentrating.
– Light – I can’t concentrate unless I have a desk light on.
– Food – if I l let myself keep working when I am hungry I find the quality of my work drops significantly. Need to make sure I am not hungry. Also if I eat certain foods (carbs mostly) I get sleepy and can’t concentrate, so I need to make sure I don’t eat carbs if I need to think. A lot of people get a concentration boost from caffeine, I use this in incredibly small doses rarely as if I have too much (like a regular cup of coffee) I will feel anxious and even get shaky, but a small amount of caffeine definitely helps me with focus.
Just thought what I discovered might help other HSP’s with concentration. Ensuring the sensory aspects my environment are correct for me has made a huge difference in my ability to concentrate.
Thanks so much for the podcast.
Hi Donna, thank you for sharing! It’s so great that you have been able to pin-point your needs so you can better focus and concentrate. I should have covered stuff like what you mentioned here!
Donna Dwyer sounds exactly like me. I’m hyper focused on everything. There are no small things, everything is equally important, so much so, I can get nothing done without a life or death deadline.
It’s adult add 🙁
I thought so too. This sounds like adult ADD which is what I have 😂 I wonder if Kelly has ever had a diagnosis done for that?
This is very me except I would flatten the tissue box and put it in the recycle bin. It will also be the reason I have 48 tabs open on my laptop, even though I have been trying to decrease the number of open tabs all week!
Almost anything can distract me but I did discover a technique that can help everyone here. The Pomodoro Technique.
Pomodoro is Italian for tomato and is so-called the because the inventor had a tomato shaped egg timer which is used in the technique.
Please Google it for full details but essentially it goes like this:
You set your egg timer for 25 minutes and work those 25 minutes non-stop, not allowing any distractions at all during that time. When the alarm goes off, you reset it for 5 minutes. Now do absolutely anything else except your work or thinking about your work. When the alarm goes off, you reset it for 25 minutes and work those 25 minutes non-stop again, etc., etc. (I used to do a 30 to 5 minute routine).
You will find your productivity will skyrocket. Check it out 🙂
I’m glad I found this blog and some people who have similar ‘issues’. I’ve just googled HSP and concentration. Many things would distract me and I feel guilty because I couldn’t do much in terms of tasks.
Working from home doesn’t help since I tend to do house chores and petty tasks while I’d need to focus and get work done.
I’m trying my headphones and sound of tibetan bowls. or low frequency sounds. May be I should buy a wireless headphone that I can carry …