By: Oliver Burkeman | Suffering from brain mush? Here’s how to get things done | Oliver Burkeman | Neuroscience | The Guardian
It’s hard to focus on one thing if you’re anxious about multiple tasks, but there’s a way through the fog of distraction
In a world of radical inequalities and bitter partisan divides, one thing apparently still unites us: nobody can focus. Recent events (“gestures broadly at everything”, to quote the internet meme) seem to have turned everyone’s brains to mush. “We can proofread and check things,” the art historian Susan Haskins told me recently, “but any new work, anything that requires tough intellectual input, remains in a befuddled mess.” She was spending too much time scrolling through the news, she admitted. But even her colleagues who screened all that out and got on with their gardening were similarly afflicted: “None of us can write.”
A standard piece of advice here is to do one thing at a time: to pick one small, well-defined task and focus on that only until it’s complete, then move on to the next, until you have accumulated a satisfying collection of finished jobs. This is correct, but also borderline useless. Telling someone with brain mush that the answer is to focus is like telling an arachnophobe that the answer is not to be scared of spiders. Yes – and your point is?