it's all about me; dug; up; dog from up who says squirrel; squirrel effect; tips to help concentrate in a meeting; tips to help focus

The squirrel effect

“The letter states that we have, oh look at your hat! Is it new? I love it! I love it! I love it!”

That was how a conversation started with a colleague of mine today. And I’m beginning to notice a wee, little trend: 96% of conversations end up this way. To the point I’m not even sure what I was trying to message when I started babbling.

For the last 58 minutes this page sat blank as I opened browser after browser. As I gathered my thoughts for a post, 92 other ones popped in my head that I needed to look up: Oooo, I wonder if Nat has her pictures posted yet? Does Minted Consignment have anything new? I should check to see if {insert random nothingness} and so on and so on and hey, did you know that the Gap has 35% off your purchase right now, including sale items? Ya, like that.

Over the last couple of years I became more conscious of my listening, or lack there of, skills. It’s not that I didn’t want to listen or follow along but I am not capable of sitting through long conversations without drifting. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking strategic planning or the rockin’ boots that Steve Madden just launched, no subject is exempt from the clutch of my squirrel effect.

As soon as a thought or idea off topic pops into my head it is generally followed by 14 others. Something as simple as “what should we have for dinner” can then lead to a full on executive functioning thought process. Is there anything in the fridge? What time will I be leaving work? If I stop at the grocery store, what time will I get home? The answer to that question determines how much prep and cooking time I have which then determines the type of meal I can prepare and clearly you can see the rabbit hole I am down. These frenetic thoughts are usually interrupted by “ahhhhh, Sarah?”

And queue prayers of hope that whatever spews out of my mouth is even 62% close to being on topic.

it's all about me; dug; up; dog from up who says squirrel; squirrel effect; tips to help concentrate in a meeting; focus; national squirrel appreciation day

I did some research a while back and found some easy tips to help me focus in meetings. While I originally thought these would actually be more distracting, I have found I retain much more of the conversation. Doodling has been a lifesaver. To be fair, a two-year old could kick my ass in a doodling competition so it really consists of filling in the letters on meeting agendas. I do my best to stay in the lines.

Note-taking has also been helpful. Writing down key points as they are relayed forces me to keep listening for the next point. I have more recently started paying attention to my body language. It’s much easier to drift when I’m half-lying in a chair than with good posture. I also consider this a work-out as my core is exhausted after an hour-long meeting. Reminding myself to stay focused and making full eye-contact without being a creeper has worked too.

Since I’m getting better at listening I need to find ways to tackle my squirreliness when I’m having a conversation where I can’t paint by numbers. Soooooo, watcha got for me?

And those thoughts I was originally gathering for this post? Ya, I’ll come back to those another day.

Image Source: Curtain


4 Responses

  1. I can totally relate. Working at home and online I find my mind is constantly being pulled all over the place and it is so easy to get distracted. This then carries over into my offline world too…lol

  2. Rhonda

    The Feldhahns write: Women’s brains are like a computer screen w/ 4 word documents, an excel spreadsheet, Internet, Pandora & anti-virus pop-ups opened at once. We’re always running 4 trains of thought at one time. It’s not squirrel… it’s multitasking! 🙂

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