The ability to not be distracted is possible when you have learned what I call “the art of concentration”. I see the art of concentration in the feature image I painted, “The Canadian Standoff”. It is a photograph I took many years ago of my daughter and a Canadian Goose concentrating on each others movement as they cross paths in the shallow waters of a Muskoka Lake. Most people work 8 hour days at a full time job that demands full concentration for most of that time. In my case, I need to be extremely focused as my job has to do with quality assurance and requires catching errors before the final product. However, I am human and occasionally remind myself and the corporation I am imperfect. I think I have the capacity for 4 hours of solid deep concentration every single day. Is that being imperfect or is it just being human? I thought I had a problem until I read some statistical article on the internet that actually confirmed it is just being human. I can not promise you that this is an actual fact, but I find it evident in my own life to agree with it.
When I paint, I do it with deep concentration and I hate being interrupted. I noticed that I need to take a break around the 4 hour mark and sometimes I’ll return to it in the same day. It is even less than 4 hours sometimes when I spent the day quality controlling production art at work. Then I question myself - Am I really an Artist?
3 Reasons For Losing Focus
I read that the top 3 reasons for losing focus is fatigue, stress and multitasking. All three of these things cause you to lose concentration. How can we make sure to avoid these everyday occurrences that are distracting us from accomplishing things?
The Passion Factor
If you’re passionate about what you do, then the focus comes easy and it might seem like you have plenty of energy. This energized passion will cancel out the fatigue. As far as stress, there is none! You are motivated, become more fearless, and overall enjoy yourself when you are passionate about it. The interruption of multitasking is only present when you are not passionate enough about the task at hand. Your mind tends to wander to do/dream about the things you are passionate about. Multitasking seems to be a quality people praise, but I am not as easily impressed by it. I have seen it used too often as an excuse to do many things subpar because your concentration is being spread thin.
North American Standards
Overtime, North American society created a work ideal of a 9 to 5 job. Yes, I can work 8 to 12 hours a day every single day- but is it natural as a human being to do that? Are you being productive in what you are doing by working at the same thing for that long?
Did you know that in Europe very few people work over 40 hours a week and have more vacation time? Meanwhile, North Americans are more likely to take shorter lunches or eat at their desks. In Europe, lunch is considered the most important meal of the day and is not to be taken lightly. Working yourself to the bone, so to speak, does not equate to productivity. The task just becomes more prone to mistakes due to fatigue, stress and multitasking.
I think of myself as an Artist. I don’t even question it anymore because I realized that painting is not a job when I do it. Painting is something I enjoy and I do not do it as an obligation but as a passion. Listen to your mind and body when you start losing focus and take a break. If you can’t, then it might be time to change your lifestyle so you can. When you do something that is meaningful you will struggle less to focus and will ultimately achieve better results.
Top Image - “The Canadian Standoff” by Fatima Learn. Acrylic Painting Paper.
Last Image - “Kathrine Says…” by Fatima Learn. Acrylic on board.