Do You Suffer From Attention Splatter?!

4:13 PM

I do! Big time. You may have also heard it referred to as Shiny New Object Syndrome—you're distracted from whatever you're doing every time something new, shiny, different, fun, challenging, fill in the blank, comes along...and you're gone in pursuit. 

Yeah. That. 

Attention splatter is when your attention is splatter over EVERYTHING in your life with little or no focus on any one area unless it's a crisis. We discussed how to get and keep focus here, here and here on the blog.
Attention Splatter
If you've been reading the blog, you may have some idea that I have a rather large number of irons in the fire at the moment.

You would be correct in that assessment.

Some of those irons include planning an artist's sketching holiday at the beach in 2015, a trip to Acadia National Park this summer, interactive Imaginary Trip classes, overhauling 2 web sites, creating a couple of logos and building Independent Learning classes—just to name the highlights.

That doesn't take in account things like grocery shopping, going to the bank, dry cleaners and hairdressers, eating, cleaning, doing laundry and all those daily maintenance things necessary to keep a life from derailing.

You may think that I have a handle on them as well.

You would be incorrect in that assessment.


Up until lately, I thought attention splatter looked a little like the graphic above. I thought there had to be some semblance of order even if there was chaos.

Umm. Well, no, not really. I've found that the inside of my brain looks a whole like this:
The Way The Inside of My Brain Really Looks
Oddly enough, this isn't so much a complaint as it is a realization that despite my determination to keep on track this year with my attention to my projects and goals, life has thrown several challenges and opportunities my way that have made focus a challenge.

You may relate.

Last Monday, when I found myself with a couple of "free" hours that were not already slated to be used on a specific project, I found myself with absolutely no idea what to do first, where to start!

Panic started to build!

I wasted a good half hour before I threw my hands up in disgust and jumped into the first project I laid hands on…and gosh, what do you know, things turned out just fine.

But that's not how I want to "run" my life. Or my mind. It gets old after a while. And what I've found is that has been working best for me is to simply stop, take a deep breath and to start writing.

Write it ALL down. And I do mean everything. Every blessed and not-so-blessed thing.

All the stuff I want to do, have to do, think I want to do, should do, would do if I could and so on until I get it down on the page and out of my head.

It makes space. It calms the "noise" of all those thoughts competing for attention, clamoring to be the loudest, crashing into each other and causing a mind-numbing roar.

Whether I write it down by hand or type it out on the computer, it seems to have the same effect, but I do find handwriting to have a more last impact. Probably because it takes longer. If I use my computer, I still print it out so that I can see "the big picture" of ALL of my brain clutter.

Once I have it listed out, I can often cross things off the list because they're past their freshness date. Some are no longer relevant and some are things that seemed like a good idea in the moment, but once I hold them up in the light of day, I realize they're not so hot.

I can usually see "themes" in the items left. Some are urgent and get highlighted with a pretty-colored highlighter. Some things can be relegated to the "Someday" file. Others are just the many steps to all the projects I have going on and need to be put in order with any necessary dates applied.

Once I have some sort of a plan, a way to approach the piles, I generally feel calmer. And that's a good thing because I don't like waking up at 4:37 AM wondering if I forgot to do some major task. It irks me because it doesn't have to be that way. Keeping focus is a lot like losing or maintaining weight—we all know what to do. It just comes down to whether we're doing it or not.

If planting myself in a chair to write down the noise will stop the panic, then yeah, that's what I'm gonna do.

When I compare my recent lists to those I created at the beginning of the year, I see I've made progress even though it doesn't feel like it. I've marked a considerable number of things off my list. I've also added a bunch more because I chose to take advantage of opportunities that showed up with expiration dates.

But probably the biggest thing I realized when I saw that attention splatter is not pretty or neat is that I've realized I'm normal. Everyone I know has a similar splatter in their lives.

It's okay to have all of this going on. In fact, I figure I'm lucky to have so much going on!

We demonize our lives and ourselves because they don't look like something out of a life-managment textbook.

Do you know anyone who has that kind of life?

No? Me either. And really, as busy, chaotic, crazy, messy and overwhelming as my life can get, I'm really not sure that I'd change a thing even if I could.


I'd take the calories out of chocolate. ; •)~

How are you doing with your attention and focus to your life this year?

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6 Creative Thought(s)

  1. It's hard to concentrate on anything when I have my migraines but I try to do something even if it is just listing what I ate and drawing the weather. I have quite the collection of little suns now, lol. Today I am baking bread and making homemade oatmeal cookies. Oh that sounds like fun and years ago when newly married it WAS fun but over the years I've had enough of cooking and baking everything and just wanted to eat out most of the time now. Then a soy sensitivity shows up and derails my plans. Once I figure out the safe foods to eat I figure I can get back to doing more of what I want with my life as the headaches should be more under control. Writing down everything I eat seems to be helping and I guess it is similar to your writing although condensed. At least I don't have to keep trying to remember it all as it's written down.

    I really love the "real" look of a splattered thought process. So much more colorful than the first one!

  2.'s highly probably that most all of us will relate very much to what you've so precisely put in writing here Laure'. It made for a great post because of that very reason - we relate and are with you on every word... All for differing reasons of course but yes, life can become quite choked up at times. You are spot on, writing LISTS does it for me too. It compartmentalizes what we want to achieve and helps to sort out the mess in our head. Tick off the lists with top of the lists being priority etc... Try to fit in two or three hours here and there to wind-back with friends over coffee, or meet for lunch, or a photo-shoot or other outing. Or, even make it your very own 'artists date' and go it alone. It all helps to clear the cobwebs :) and rejuvenate our minds to get in the groove again.

  3. I used to make lists once a week, then take the most important or urgent items off those lists and put them on my weekly to-do list. That works as well as anything I've tried, but I've gotten away from it lately. I have done very poorly on my main goals for the year--keep getting derailed by unexpected stressful events, and I haven't broken down my goals into small enough pieces, evidently. But! The year is not over, and I can always try something new.

    I am keeping a list of things I've done this year--since I sometimes find it hard to remember what I actually do with my time. I hope to look back on a productive 2014.

  4. Laure- I so relate...especially keeping my focus on what is truly important. For sure my brain looks like the latter one...mine has never been that organized. Such a great post and I certainly relate my friend. Hope you have a great day.

  5. And you had time to write this delightful post. Hang in there girl. You always get it done.

  6. I'm definitely suffering from this now. What I'm trying to do to reduce some of the distraction ..... is a major declutter/purging exercise at home. Not fun, and hard work, but way overdue. When the load is lightened.... I think it will be so much easier to focus on the art I love to do.


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