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Concentration in the Time of a Covid Pandemic

ConcentrationConcentration, what is it good for? huh . . . absolutely nothing. Say it again . . .

Many aspects of our lives are impacted by our ability to concentrate. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on us in a lot of psychological, economic, and emotional ways. All of which makes it harder to concentrate.

Concentration for Work

Many folks continue to work from home, which should be “easy” right? Familiar, safe surroundings? Not so much.

People are creatures of habit. Even if there were things we didn’t like about the commute or certain co-workers, going to work every day gave a lot of us structure and comfort. Having that taken away by forces out of our control is stressful. Which makes concentrating at home  harder than it should be.

In addition to doomscrolling, we’re interrupted by our partner working in the next (or worse, same!) room. The kids are trying to go to school on the computer in the kitchen, while the dogs and cats have decided it’s now a free-for-all play time with their people at home 24/7.

I even have one friend interrupted in her day by her chickens.

Turns out it’s a lot easier to concentrate on our work when we’re in a dedicated space for those endeavors.

Marking out territory in our home for our “work” can be difficult, but making up a “Working” sign to hang on the back of your chair might not hurt. The chickens can’t read it, but the partner and the kids can, and it will be a visual reminder that you aren’t home on holiday.

Concentration for our Writing

ConcentrationCarving out time for our writing can be difficult in the best of times. Trying to concentrate in the moments we do manage to grab can make us feel like giving up. If we can barely find time to write, then can’t get focused when we do, we can feel overwhelmed.

The good news is, if you are wanting to write, then the muse hasn’t left you. My first suggestion is give yourself a break. You don’t have to write more words than before the pandemic started. And no one is saying you even have to write as much. Just write what you can.

It’s important to try, but it’s also fine to “fail.” Because there is no true failure in writing other than giving up.

Used to be able to rattle off 1000 words without problem? Now you spend twice as long writing 200? That’s okay. You still have 200 words. Instead of beating yourself up, applaud yourself for the little successes. All it takes for a big success, is a trail of little ones behind it.

Concentration for our Loved Ones

Yeah . . . this is me. I have found that part of why I’ve been able to get through all these months in fairly good mental shape, is my ability to put my head down and just do my thing. I write, I edit, I review, I play with my horses. Engaging in conversation doesn’t play a big role in any of those things.

If you’re anything like me, having someone around 24/7 is a little tricky. I enjoy people, but not all the time. I need downtime to recharge. So I often find after getting through a day of working harder than “before” to get my client work done, my writing done, and some semblance of housecleaning, I don’t have much energy left over for my hubby.

And he’s an extrovert!

Luckily for me, he’s also an upbeat person like myself, so we acknowledge the situation is hard on everyone and cut each other some slack. It’s a good time to spell out to your loved ones what you need. It’s not selfish, it’s better for everyone to keep stress levels down. I think it’s fine to say to the people in lockdown with you that you “need a little space right now.”

Again, the chickens might not get it, but your partner should.

I have no advice for parents about this, but if you have suggestions, feel free to put them in the comments for my readers.

Concentration for our HobbiesConcentration

Hobbies are important in these strange times. We have to keep doing things that we love and that make us feel engaged in the world.

Whether you’re an amateur painter, a knitter, a baker (oh so much baking!!) it’s good for our mental health to find ways to do things that aren’t required. To check out from our continued responsibilities and do something solely for us.

But it’s also okay NOT to work on something. The idea that we’d all come out of the pandemic speaking new languages, playing new instruments, and penning the next Great American Novel is laughable.

Hobbies should be bringing us joy right now, not adding stress because we aren’t achieving some particular level.

I’m still working on getting my banjo tuned, but I also enjoy it just sitting next to my desk, as something I’ll do when I can.

Writing a first draft is like tuning a banjo

Final Thoughts on Concentration

It’s okay if you’re having trouble concentrating. Stress will do that to you. The more you struggle against it, the more you beat yourself up, the worse it’s going to be.

Take a breath. Take a walk. Take a bath. Take a little time out, because a little quality work/writing/conversation/hobby is going to be much more productive than hours of feeling overwhelmed.

Sometimes you have to take time out in order to make forward progress.

Hang in there. We’re all in this together.

Want to read more about writing during a time of covid? Click the link here.

Elena TaylorElena Taylor is the author of All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio book format at all your favorite on-line retailers. And don’t forget many independent bookstores can order books for you and have them shipped to your home or for curbside pickup.

For more information on All We Buriedclick on the link here to visit the home page.

Student image by geralt on Pixabay.

Writing image by free images on Pixabay.

Musician illustration by Jills on Pixabay.

Elena Hartwell

Author and developmental editor.

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