The struggle to be “mentally present”

by kathleenljackson

I can’t focus. Try as I might I cannot focus at the moment. I can be sitting in the most engaging conversation of the week (probably even the month) and still get distracted by the fact that NWA is playing in my current location, that I have forgotten to email important information to an important person, or, worst of all, I am so tired I feel like my face is falling off.

Make no mistake, I want to be working on my thesis. Nothing makes me happier than working on African American history…. I think my problem is two-part.


I just keep getting hung up the stupid bureaucracy or etiquette required in this industry. I get stuck, unable to proceed. I’m not being me and I hate that. It’s like I’m being an exaggerated version of myself, a version that I think may be more likable, more … accessible. But, you know, some times I am not accessible, some times I am not likable; and I kind of like that. I have always, always, been an all or nothing kind of girl. I don’t like to compromise when it comes to my values….And lately, I feel like I’ve been asked to compromise a lot.


There are so many avenues of procrastination available. I know I should be reading journal articles and writing and yet I inevitably find myself watching YouTube clips, reading the news, or just lurking on Facebook.

Thankfully, (2) is relatively easy to address. Computer apps and programs have become a crutch. I use:

  1. Self-Control – blocks website (you can add/remove specific sites to the blacklist) and once you set the timer you can’t turn it off, even if you restart your computer.
  2. FocusBooster – implements the 25: 5 timer. You work for 25 minutes then a 5 minute break. It really helps me focus…
  3. Wunderlist – to-do list that is all my devices; it is unrelenting with its reminders.
  4. Speed Reading [available in the apple app store] – it reads articles and website to me, that usually gets me on a roll. Turns out TextEdit can do that so … maybe don’t pay for the app.

I also find this mind map really useful:

Any suggestions for how I can begin addressing (1)? …Other than sucking it up.