I Can’t Concentrate!

Read more books! Since I was young, this message has been drummed into me. My father was a passionate reader and collector of books of knowledge, and this became my mantra too. I would buy books on business, on successful people and their lives, on history, on geography, on adventure and adventurers, on politics and finance. I couldn’t walk past a book shop without stopping and browsing.

But about ten years ago something changed. I stopped buying books, and on the infrequent times, I did buy. I struggled to read them. I opened them up and found I couldn’t maintain concentration. My eyes would drift off the words, or worse still jump ahead further down the page. I was scanning the page, without taking anything in. My thoughts and ideas were bouncing around, lacking focus and certainly not concentrated and taking in the message. I was jumping ahead trying to get to the significant bit, rushing the reading, thinking that maybe the next page offered something more exciting.

I realised that my ability to concentrate had been damaged. Are you struggling in the same way? Are you finding it more difficult if not impossible to maintain concentration to read a book or do just one thing at a time?

This wasn’t restricted to reading either. I recently went to the cinema and struggled to concentrate on the screen for the two-hour film even though I was enjoying the movie. My mind kept wandering. Do you recognise this feeling?

I think the internet has damaged my ability to maintain concentration levels. The internet has trained our brains to keep looking for the next dopamine fix of excitement. It’s like playing a fruit machine whereby your brain is transfixed by the possibility of a fresh reward. So, you keep pulling the handle to spin the wheels.

The internet has been designed specifically to work in the same way. You are tempted and encouraged to watch one more video, scroll through one more post, look at one more picture. All the while you think maybe the next one will be the best, funniest, most interesting. We fall into an almost hypnotic, trance of mindless activity.

I read some time ago that this behaviour in children has been found to rewire the brain functions and I can believe it. I can see the changes in my adult brain. God only knows the effect it is having on growing, impressionable, unformed children’s minds.

So, what can we do about it? I don’t have an answer to the internet as a whole. But I have been thinking specifically about books. I recently downloaded the audible app. Audible is a library of audiobooks, read by the authors or other celebrities.

I have a lot of time where I can listen to something. In the past, I wasted this on music and radio. Now I’m using the time to consume books again. OK, I’m not reading them. But by listening to them, I am absorbing the information and getting the learning. Sadly, I don’t think it has improved my ability to concentrate again; I’m still trying to do two things at once. But at least its progress.

I have found there is a considerable amount of spare time within the day to listen. So, for example, I listen while I’m getting dressed, while I’m preparing meals, washing up, exercising and driving. I realised that it amounts to 4 or 5 hours per day. I feel like it is a real breakthrough. I adopted this a week ago and have averaged just under a book a day.

You can gain so much knowledge, learning and inspiration from books.  If you analyse the pathway of successful people, men and women who have made the same journey that you want to take. You will see them constantly talking about reading and learning. They frequently identify it as the critical component in their success.

For you to reach your goals and dreams you must commit to a journey of learning. I know how hard that is, especially when it involves reading.  That’s where audible comes in, listening to the books is so much easier. Sure, it may well offend the purists among us. But ignore them. Ignore your doubters. Instead turn your face towards your dreams. Commit to learning and work toward your dreams every day. Long before others believe, you must believe it’s possible.

Remember, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.

Thanks For Reading!

Hi, I’m Luke Bream, the author of this blog, one of the co-founders of Valentte, hillwalker, cyclist, dreamer and an eternal optimist! My writing is focused on learning how we create the life we have always imagined, become the person we have always wanted to be in order to fulfill the dreams and goals we have set ourselves. I believe there is a power within each of us to achieve whatever we commit to mastering. Want to hear more? Read my full story. (coming soon…)

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13 replies on “I Can’t Concentrate!

  • Debbie Mynett

    Hi Luke , I could have written this . I’m exactly the same . I used to read at least one book a week , gradually this dwindled away . I used to joke that I could barely manage a magazine , the inability to concentrate worried me though . Films became a thing of the past too . The loss of my reading bothered me , it had been such an integral part of my life , I would lose myself in a plot , escape from the stress of real life . I lost my ‘escape ‘ place . At the time I put my loss of concentration down to stress , a hideous divorce , the menopause however I was also aware that I was spending more time in my phone . Instead of picking up a book , I picked up my phone . Social media , news channels , games . I could lose an hour & a half easily . Recently I’ve been much stricter with my time & have started reading again , the sense of joy has returned . My first impulse is to pick up my phone but I resist it . This takes self discipline. Putting my phone down now to read !

    Reply
    • Valentte

      Hi Debbie
      Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a relief to hear that I am not alone. I thought I was going mad!
      Best Wishes
      Luke x

      Reply
  • Amanda Loughton

    Me too! I have to make a real effort to read a book even though I love doing it when I do. I also blame the phone..but I’m determined! Although I am replying to this on my phone! Less scrolling, more reading!

    Reply
  • Tina Futcher-Smith

    Hi Luke, I think part of the problem is you read for knowledge not pleasure. I am an avid reader and always enjoyed it, but give me an academic book and Imy mind wanders. In regards to concentration if other things are going on in our lives it affects our concentration. I am 8 months post fall that badly fractured my humerus. Last few weeks as my mind is frustrated against the lack of healing my concentration has suffered. I just want my operation date and cant focus on anything else.

    Reply
  • Rosemary Stone

    Thank you that is exactly what has been happening to me for a while. I thought it was just old age (83). So now I know, maybe I can resume my love of reading, with little help,

    Reply
  • Jac

    Great message. You’re absolutely right. Our brains have been rewired and we are losing our capacity for reflective thinking, concentration, attention and mindfulness, hence the rise in ADHD and mental illness. I’m going to share your words because what you’ve written is extremely important – thank you.

    Reply
  • Jacquelyn ShreevesLee

    Great message. You’re absolutely right. Our brains have been rewired and we are losing our capacity for reflective thinking, concentration, attention and mindfulness, hence the rise in ADHD and mental illness. I’m going to share your words because what you’ve written is extremely important – thank you.

    Reply
  • Amanda Davies

    Hi,
    I absolutely love your blogs. I’ve yet to try your products because money is tight at the moment, but I promise I will.

    As a writer your blogs make so much sense. They are inspiring, hopeful and uplifting.

    I wish you and your wife every success in life.

    Reply
  • Sue

    I agree with all the above. I had thought it was my ageing brain*, but you’re almost certainly right. My problem is newspapers – I spend ages reading these every day and a terrific book I enjoyed, when I had time to read, has been lying around half-read for weeks. I have books in my bookcase I requested for Christmasses still unread.
    * Mind you, I didn’t concentrate at school either….
    Thanks for your thoughts – very inspiring.

    Reply
  • Jan

    Hi
    Part of my problem was that i had to do a lot of scanning in my job, looking for information and this was affecting my ability to read and digest slowly. As I’ve retired now, I have more time to read and I’ve been making myself slow down to think more about what I’m reading but also reading in a more conducive atmosphere too. I also feel, though, the freedom to not persevere with something I am not finding interesting. I read a mixture of fiction and non fiction and mix and match with quick read.

    Reply
  • Lauren G

    Hi Luke
    Just to say your emails are truly awakening and certainly touching my soul.
    Powerful and emotional making me think about things I try to avoid. Although I cannot afford to buy products etc I highly appreciate and feel uplifted deep within after reading your words so thank you – truly.

    Lauren

    Reply
  • Lauren G

    Hi Luke
    Just to say your emails are truly awakening and certainly touching my soul.
    Powerful and emotional making me think about things I try to avoid. Although I cannot afford to buy products etc I highly appreciate and feel uplifted deep within after reading your words so thank you – truly.

    Lauren

    Reply

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