Ben Bartosik

June 28, 2024

Something I've been thinking about a lot lately is concentration and focus. I've always been someone whose attention span is easily sidetracked (a trait I'm seeing in one of my kids now). For most of my life I've just sort of accepted this state of micro bursts of energy towards all sorts of things, shifting lanes and pursuing whatever interests me at the time. It's something I've just always chalked up to how my brain works. However, I'm learning that concentration is something that can be learned.

Cal Newport suggests several practices that can be used to train concentration, including getting our brains comfortable with boredom (time away from devices) and slowly building up increased focus time on a topic (interval training). In The Craftsman, Sennett similarly discusses concentration as physical skill that needs to be honed. Specifically, he talks about how the repetitive nature of skill building becomes more enjoyable as you hone that ability to concentrate on it. This is something I say to my kids all the time, the only way to get good at something is to practice.

But practice feels boring and boredom is a symptom that our present cultural moment has attempted to liberate us from. However, as I reflect on what we have given up in exchange for endless, immediate gratification, I find myself longing for boredom again.