Ask Ceil – Hyper. Focus.

Dear Ceil,

I can’t seem to focus on anything. Why is that?

Distracted in Detroit

Dear Distracted,

You may be having too much fun.

For instance, is it possible you have been on Twitter? Facebook? Tumblr? Pinterest? Instagram? WordPress? Blogger? Vine? YouTube? Linked In? Google+?

God help you, have you been on Whisper?

So, I was watching Cosmos last week.

Between the ages of 22 and 24, Isaac Newton:

  • Conceived the method of infinitesimal calculus.
  • Set foundations for his theory of light and color.
  • Gained significant insight into the laws of planetary motion.

When Edmond Halley was 22, he

  • Published Catalogus Stellarum Australium, an addition to modern star maps of the time, with information on 341 southern stars.
  • Earned his M.A. from Oxford.
  • Was inducted into the Royal Society.

Just to draw a stark parallel, between the ages of 22 and 24, I:

  • Worked at a music store.
  • DJ’d on weekends.
  • Discovered new and different ways to kill my own brain cells while watching The Simpsons.

It’s hard to focus on things now. And that’s because we’re having too much fun. I mean, sure you could get yourself completely drunk in the 1600’s, but you couldn’t piss away an entire weekend playing The Legend of Zelda.

You had some sports. But you probably didn’t have Extreme Mountain Unicycling.

You might have had a lot of sex. But you probably never had competitive air sex. (Warning: This video is not suitable for…well, really anything. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t watch this if I were you.)

The irony here is that we probably have more free time than ever. Consider the poor worker of the 17th century. He would have killed to have a washing machine. Or a gas-powered tiller. Or one of those things that both cores and apple and takes the skin off. Or a single Ginsu knife.


“…cuts through human bone as easily as a tomato” My college roommate, circa 1988

And what do we do with this free time? Even if we’re not having air sex with our unicycles, chances are that we find so many entertaining things, we spread ourselves too thin.

My schedule, Monday
7:30 Eat breakfast
7:45 Check network news
8:00 Shower
8:15 Check Twitter
8:30 Try to accomplish something useful, fail utterly because
8:36 Notification from Facebook.
8:53 Still in inadvertent Facebook conversation about the possibility of a multiverse, for which I only have cursory knowledge gleaned from something I overheard in Starbucks. FB exchange consists mainly of jokes regarding what my alternate selves would be doing at this exact moment. Concludes, probably watching cat videos.
9:02 Goes to YouTube, watches cat videos.
9:08 Posts on Twitter, “Hey, check out this cat video. He’s stuck in a box! All the lulz! [link]”
9:09 Answers and/or stars tweets responding cat video tweet. Many responses simply say, “I can’t EVEN.”
12:00 Lunch

This is exactly the type of day that Isaac Newton would never have had. My advice: turn off your electronics for a period of the day that you would like to focus. Find a quiet place to concentrate.

And for the love of God, stay away from the air sex. And Whisper. That place is just chilling.


Ceil Kessler is a writer who is currently fending off attractive offers from corporate America, and promises of reliable income and generous 401K matches, all of which she refuses in the name of art and her love of the muses. No, I’m just kidding. I refuse all that because I am part of the sandwich generation, though I suspect I’d be a much bigger fan of the cheesecake generation, or perhaps the lasagna generation. (Mmm. Lasagna.)

Ceil occasionally writes in her blog, renovates investment properties, and  inspires people to write short fiction. You can find all her other writings and such in her writing repository. Other than that, the minute this ground thaws, she’s planting something.

Photo by Ceil Kessler.

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