Curb Daydreaming with “Intention”
Have you ever found yourself in a conversation, class, or meeting when you all of a sudden realize that your mind has drifted off?
What was that like for you? . . .
I’ve worked with high school students who have found that they’ll be in class and find that all of a sudden the teacher calls their name and they have no idea where the class is in the discussion – they’ve been daydreaming. It can be a stressful and embarrassing experience!
I’ve worked with college students who have found that class has ended and they suddenly realize that they weren’t paying attention. If they’re responsible to know the material from the lecture, this can be very stressful; it can also impact grades.
A similar experience can occur with adults in meetings at work or in conference presentations. Oops! That can really be a problem.
Sometimes daydreaming is helpful to escape boredom, but in times that we want or need to be paying attention, participating and learning, daydreaming can be very frustrating.
In her book The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD, Psychiatrist Lidia Zylowska suggests that a simple approach to curbing daydreaming is to develop a habit of matching your attention with previously set intention.
You can do this by first setting the intention, such as “I want to be focused on this lecture.” Then, during the lecture, periodically ask yourself two questions:
- “Where is my attention right now?”
- “Is this matching my previously set intention?”
This strategy can be particularly useful when engaging in tasks in which your mind is likely to wander. For students, this might be studying. For adults, it can be any number of tasks that are somewhat routine or perhaps tedious.
Try it out! It may take some practice to build the skill, but hang in there and give it a chance!
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