Are you Paying Attention?

As a child I had all sorts of trouble paying attention - not just in school, but to anything. Soccer was my group physical activity of choice, and I would regularly find myself standing on the field looking at the other games on adjacent fields. When we would rent a video game for the weekend I would quickly lose interest if I couldn't complete on my first few attempts. And remember: we're talking about the early days here, video games were very new, and there wasn't any "saving".

In school my lack of attention was attributed to a number of things; this was the just before the "Ritalin generation" really came to be, but already child psychologists were touting the ability of pharmaceuticals to focus the mind of a wandering student. My mother - while not opposed to the use of prescription drugs for children - did not believe this was my problem. We were told that I wasn't being challenged enough (I know, very cliche, but as much as today), and I was put on the "honors" track as they called it then.

Skip to the end

So here I am two decades later, I still play soccer and occasionally find myself staring off toward another game. When I do play video games (which isn't too often) I tire of them quickly, and it seems that this lack of attention has infiltrated my work. I find myself continually having to chunk up my tasks into pieces that can be done in two or three hours, and yes, this is actually a strategy employed by a number of project management methodologies, but I'm talking about something a bit different. For me, its not just breaking down the task that is significant, its stopping after a given amount of time - and if I don't the work suffers.

My difficulty in maintaining focus causes me to take on a number of smaller projects so that I can keep my mind interested. A lot of people use this sort of tactic to over come developer burnout, I find that I have to use this tactic as my everyday process. So why am I writing about this if I have a solution? Well, lately my solution has been sputtering out. More often than not I am trying to think of what else I could be doing instead of what I need to be doing.

Here's the twist

You might be asking yourself how I am going to overcome these feelings and stay on track; I hate to disappoint you, but I'm not. Truth be told, I want that next challenge. I want to be engaged and get that rush of something new and shiny. Sure, I'll still fulfill any obligations I have, but its time for a change, and I welcome it.

Published on September 3, 2010