Ever since I was about 22 I’ve never been able to focus while there’s distractions. I recognise this is similar for many people, except I think what differentiates it is in what I class as a distraction. I can’t listen to music and work, I can’t have the TV or a movie on in a background and focus, I often can’t finish simple tasks with the distractions presented by people speaking nearby me. Even writing this post with my Spotify Daily Mix playlist of some light industrial music is an exercise in frustration and unfocused bopping.
This brings me pain when I live with someone; I can barely stand to hang out in the same room as a housemate or partner while they’re watching TV or playing games because I can’t focus when I’m trying to work, write, or code. I even aim my desk in such a way so that I’m facing away from their screens to prevent me getting distracted while they’re using headphones - I’m known to often simply stare blankly at their screen or TV even in the absence of sound.
Noise cancelling headphones are definitely a blessing, but they can only do so much. I find white noise too grinding and liable to make me get trapped in my own head. So far the only thing that’s managed to be a good blocker (aside from being alone in a quiet room) has been listening to drone metal like Sunn O))) or Earth.
Even in the absence of distraction, I’ll often make my own; I’m a sucker for just scrolling social media to my own detriment and will continuously Alt+Tab out of my work to refresh Twitter/Facebook. Slack at work is such a distraction as well, every few minutes (at most) I’ll flick back to it to see if there’s any new messages in any channels to catch up on.
I don’t know if the components of my condition (schizoaffective disorder, kind of a mix of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) could be worsening this or what I could do to help it but uhhhh, suggestions welcome.
Hit me up on Twitter at @adamjogrady if you have ideas.