An exercise to Improve Attention
Improving attention through visualisation is easy and will help you improve your ability for selective attention and focusing. Improving your attention will also help improve your memory. All you have to do is focus your attention on one thing. This thing can be a pen, a visual image, or anything else. Keep your attention on the object or image and notice all aspects of it. Notice the colour, texture, shape, function and meaning. When ever your attention becomes focused on something else other than the object or image, just gently bring your attention back. You can start with 2 minutes of focusing and then gradually increase the session over time. This exercise will help your ability to maintain attention in conversations, on your task and on your goals. Don't forget to do this exercise in a comfortable position, such as sitting on the floor, pillow or chair and to use a meaningful object or image.
Benefits of Improving Attention
Self-awareness and being self aware of others is an important aspect in maintaining focus. Improving your attention will help you will learn to identify how you feel, to trust yourself, and to know your strengths and limitations. When you need to focus on group work or to maintain a conversation you will learn about the other person's likes, dislikes and goals without judgement but full acceptance because your attention will stay with what is in front of you rather than shift to another topic, idea or object.
Mnemonics is any device used to help you remember. A device may include rhymes, using pictures, groups of letters to remember a long list of numbers (i.e., abc = 1). The letters can be formed into words to help you remember the numbers easier. An example is a telephone with numbers and letters on a key and telephone numbers with 1800 - ring - me.
Another strategy is to connect words with pictures to improve retention and retrieval. Make the image as vivid as possible in your mind. You can even make it is interesting ridiculous as you can. Connect emotions with the image. Click here for an example from Vocabulary Cartoons
FACT: Mnemonics is effective because it connects new information with information that you already have in your long term memory. The memory is further improved when you use all your senses such as smell, image, feelings.
Most of these translations are from Cindy Goldrich's book "8 Keys to Parenting Children with ADHD". While it is important to understand ADHD challenges to help the children learn how to remain focused, organised and self-aware, it is also important to see their challenges from another viewpoint. All children are unique, but their uniqueness may present as challenges when put in a pool of normality. When you let them thrive in their own unique way, you may get amazing results. Some unusual and unique people who helped changed the world for the better with their crazy, creative ideas include Walt Disney, Albert Einstein and Richard Branson, just to name a few. Remember, ADHD people are now being called the creative genius.
•Questions Authority – Independent Thinker
•Lazy – Laid Back, Relaxed
•Argumentative – Persuasive
•Manipulative – Delegates Well
•Bossy – Signs of Leadership
•Distractible – Curious
•Poor Sense of Time – Lives in the Moment
•Difficulty Transitioning – Can Focus Intensely
•Hyperactive – Full of energy
•Strong-willed – Tenacious, Persistent
•Daydreamer – Creative, Imaginative
•Daredevil – Risk Taker, Adventurous
•Aggressive – Assertive
•Slow Processor – Deep Thinker
•Confusion - Intellectual Curiosity
Yesterday I was listing to a segment on RN radio about super recognisers. Super recognisers are people who have the ability to remember a face after years of meeting the person. They are now used in law enforcement agencies to recognise faces of people caught doing criminal activity on CCTV footage. CCTV footage can be blurry and difficult to decipher, but not for a super recogniser. A super recogniser will firstly identify the face, then remember who it belongs to, to identify the person. To confirm if the first step is accurate, the information will then go to another super recogniser who will again identify the face on the CCTV footage. The information will then be used as a lead for police officers to investigate.
Super recognisers were identified after Harvard University called for people who had prosopagnosia (people who have difficulty recognising familiar faces), however received inquiries about people who had an unusual ability to remember a face after years of meeting the person. They are now being used in identifying people in CCTV footage that would otherwise be difficult to recognise.
People who have prosopagnosia will identify a person from their clothes, as apposed to the face. For example, a person who has prosopagnosia can know a person well, but if that person is wearing the same clothing (i.e., same suit) as another person next to her friend or family she knows well, the person with prosopagnosia will have difficulty knowing which is her friend or family because she won't be able to discern from their faces.
Here is the article and audio from RN http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/rnafternoons/super-recogniser/6744260
Here is a link to a test you can do to find out if you are a super recogniser, have prosopagnosia or normal when recognising faces
Ryan Holiday wrote a book called “The Obstacle is the Way” to teach about using obstacles as a way to drive you forward rather than hold you back. Some obstacles that can be understood as catastrophes may be normal and only as bad as we think it to be. It is important to prepare for the worst, learn how to remain resilient and learn persistence. Another strategy is to think about what you can learn from the obstacle such as your inner strength and other ideas you can gain from the situation. Ryan Holiday states that learning from the experience is power over the situation and will is your internal power. “True will is quiet humility, resilience, and flexibility; the other kind of will is weakness disguised by bluster and ambition. See which lasts longer under the hardest of obstacles” by Ryan Holiday.
Self-determination theory posits that being aware of yourself will help you remain self motivated without the need for external rewards. Self-awareness is one of the 11 components related to self-determination theory that address intrinsic motivation.
Self awareness means that you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Self awareness builds self respect because you will be willing to work in an environment that support these aspects of yourself and thrive. Therefore find work that you are good at and where you can delegate work you are not so good at to other people. An environment that supports this structure would have to include people that won't mind your own shortcomings but their own too. Finding an environment that supports your strengths and working in a team that will distribute work that you are not so good at to others will help you stay focused and attentive.
A supportive environment and team also means providing a structure that will provide accountability, meaning standing by your decisions and actions. Each decision and task completed will help complete the overall goal and vision of the team. If you fail to focus on your goals, then you fail the team. People who tend to respect their manager, colleagues and the vision of the company are more willing to work hard and cope with the challenges because where they work, who they work with and why they are doing the work provides intrinsic motivation as it is important to the person.
In summary, it is important to work in an environment where you are respected, respect others, understand each others strengths and weaknesses and delegate work you are not so good at to remain stimulated and engaged.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo have found that drawing pictures of information that needs to be remembered is a strong and reliable strategy to enhance memory.
“We pitted drawing against a number of other known encoding strategies, but drawing always came out on top,” said the study’s lead author, Jeffrey Wammes, PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology. “We believe that the benefit arises because drawing helps to create a more cohesive memory trace that better integrates visual, motor and semantic information.”
Read more http://neurosciencenews.com/drawing-memory-recall-4094/
Survey - Survey the page by skimming through through the chapter. While doing this notice headings, pictures, summaries, quotes and anything else that captures your attention
Question - Make what you are reading more interesting by turning headings into questions, dot points into questions and anything else that you notice into questions. You may want to write the questions down for additional learning later.
Read - When you read, try to answer the questions you wrote. Additionally, when you read ask turn sentences or any other part of the text into your own interesting questions and answer them as you go along to improve retention.
Recite - Mentally or orally rehearse any of the information as you read
Review - When you finish the chapter, or page (your preferred strategy), recall the questions you wrote before going along to the next section
wRite - As you read or listen to lectures, write questions and answer them as you go along. You may also wish to only write questions while listening to lectures and answering them at your own time.
SQ4R is about active learning and is another mnemonic strategy.
Source: Burton, L, Westen, D, Kowalski, R. (2009). Psychology (2nd Ed.) Australian and New Zealand Edition. Milton, Queensland: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Limited.
Helping you stay focused can improve your attention span. If you find your mind wandering think about:
Information on latest research and strategies to improve mental health, trauma symptoms and trauma-informed care for children, young people and adults.