Arrested Attention Span

Like a lot of people, I go through indulging binges on Netflix. Most of the time it’s because I have a deadline that I’m choosing to ignore. And others, it’s because I just need to power off my brain. To veg and do nothing and let a story unfold before me. A healthier way of doing this is of course reading (which I’ve been doing much more of recently). But when your eyes are tired, you still have the warmth of the shower trapped underneath your pj’s and that work you started before dinner says in a quiet voice: “It’s okay if you start again tomorrow,” it’s hard to not comply.

I promise myself that I’ll only watch two episodes of something per day. But if I’m not careful, if I’m feeling particularly down, lazy, and overall uninterested in what I should be doing, I go overboard. I end up watching half a season of The West Wing. Or, to be more up to date, that would be Alias these days. Because I have another job, I don’t have the same amount of time I do during school to spend on writing. For some reason, whenever I open up Word to start working on my novel, or flip to a new page in my journal, I stop. I’ll be at it for thirty minutes, then get up and go do the dishes, or pick up the clothes I leave in a heap by my closet. Where did my attention span go?

That can’t entirely be blamed on Netflix, it’s my choice to watch all of Arrested Development, Mad Men  and Doctor Who within a month’s time. So why do I do it? For one, they’re all at my disposal. I like completing things, to have that 100% bar full. I have the same ambition in my writing, but from that I get completely distracted. The whole problem started senior year of high school, when I watched all of That 70’s Show instead of doing my AP Lit and AP Euro essays. They eventually got done, and turned in on time. Although, I could have saved a lot of sleep without wasting my time being wrapped up in the hilarity that ensued in Forman’s basement. But honestly, I watch so many television shows, I feel like my brain’s short-circuited. It’s gotten in the way of my work. And as someone who’s chosen to devote the rest of my life to writing and helping others with theirs, what does that say about me?

How do you get out of these bad habits? I’m not swearing off TV, or Netflix for that matter. I’m just seriously contemplating blocking it from my browser for awhile. The only way I get on facebook these days is from my phone, and I don’t use tumblr that much either. Maybe part of my problem is that I’m home more often, because I’m not down in the Loop for classes. I’m used to coming home, getting some work done and then relaxing. Now that I’m here all the time (when I’m not at work) that’s all I want to do.

I use Freedom during the semester, and I guess it’s time to do that this summer, as well. What do you think?


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