This article is for you if you've noticed that you enjoy making plans a lot but end up not achieving half as much as you've planned or you've being thinking up some really good business ideas for years now and you've not even put a kobo into starting them... even though you enjoy the thrill of the rewards these plans or businesses will bring you already. This could be a case of hyperfocus doping and you today, we’ll be discussing how to help you convert those ideas and dreams into rewarding actions.
Alright, let's start with what "hyperfocus" is. According to Wikipedia, "Hyperfocus is an intense form of mental concentration or visualization that focuses consciousness on a subject, topic, or task. In some individuals, various subjects or topics may also include daydreams, concepts, fiction, the imagination, and other objects of the mind." It also goes on to say it is a symptom of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Hold ooon... this doesn't mean that you have a mental illness (yet 😏). What it means is just what it says above, you often find it difficult to shift your concentration away from things you enjoy thinking about... even if it's at the detriment of your growth, productivity or finances. Also, there's a really cool name for people like you 😎 – you can say you're a Monotropic (rhymes with one thing related to sunshine).
Now, this could be a really good thing if you're investing all of that concentration into productive stuff (see where that saying about loving what you do and doing what you love holds true again?).
But hyperfocus doping happens when you literally enjoy the highs of the rewards of your daydreaming so much that you can't seem to leave that daydream to actually achieve your dreams in real life. So, you spend days enjoying the things you would do with that imaginary $20 million you made from that imaginary start-up but you never end up making moves to start the business in real life. If the above statement defines you (be honest with yourself now), you might need help, a lot of it, and it starts with you.
To make this sink in better, let me point out 5 of the numerous ways hyperfocus doping could be affecting not only your way of life but life itself;
- You lose a lot of time imagining stuff that's not helpful to your current or future goals. If we agree that time is the most valuable element in life, that's a lot of unnecessary loss you're making. If you spend 1 hour every day daydreaming, that's 365 hours in a year which equals 15 days wasted in one year. If you're 25 and you've been doing this since you were 15... just do the maths.
- Time wasted hyperfocus doping means productivity lost on your job, business or academics. Less time being productive equals displeased bosses or customers & less remunerations for you and/or your business."
- Time spent in your head means less time spent with loved ones and your growth circle. This also means that you're communicating less with people who could be helpful to your business or career. When you get addicted to staying in your mind, you start feeling like talking to others is a chore and you also start losing your communication skills because you want to end every external interaction as quickly as possible to go back to the comfort and bliss in your mind.
- Our thoughts simmer in our subconscious and manifest as reflexes or instinctive responses. So, if you're the kind of person who always imagines being in confrontations or fights (stop watching too much superhero movies and animations), you're bound to see confrontations in nearly every interaction that doesn't agree with you. This could lead to being passive-aggressive which damages your communication skills further.
- All of the above can lower your self-esteem since people's reaction to your behaviour could make you think you aren't being appreciated, understood or valued, and these lead to frustration, high mental stress, depression and anxiety as shown in this study on athletes with ADHD ... all of which could lead you to withdraw deeper into your mind; creating a vicious cycle of hyperfocus doping.
But we wouldn't be talking about this if there aren't ways to help you stop hyperfocusing since it would be a total waste of our time anyway. Here are the things you can do to stop hyperfocus doping and start investing more time into your business, growth-driven relationships, career and life in general;
Be honest about hyperfocus doping and ADHD;
Now that you know what hyperfocusing is and its relationship with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, you may want to read more about it and see if you need to see a specialist for better diagnosis as this could help you solve your problem better. You can start reading about ADHD on this website
Use your ALARMS!
If this doesn't ring a bell (pun intended 😉), understand that if your alarms can wake you from sleeping, they can wake you from any daydream. Make a to-do list and set timers for tasks at work, giving yourself a deadline to finish assignments. The less time you have to finish a task, the less you have to squeeze daydreaming into it. Use phone reminders for meetings, appointments or personal responsibilities that could be forgotten during your hyperfocus doping sessions; honestly, I know this one guy who set-up reminders to call his girlfriend at particular times of the day (very wise thing to do). Now, don't just set alarms or reminders that ring just once and leave you alone, set alarms with persistent intervals and annoying ringtones; I also know this guy who used a recording of himself snoring as a reminder ringtone (don't ask me how he got that).
Talk to trusted people around you
Hyperfocus isn't something you can stop on your own. You need people who can notice when you're in daydream-land and call you back to earth. So, talk to your friends, family and colleagues. Tell them how they can help you snap out of it; with most people, a gentle tap on the should would work if they don't respond to being called.
Set a time limit to your hyperfocus doping - with a reward system
No one says you have to stop hyperfocus doping all at once; that's practically impossible. Besides, it'll be very difficult to leave your happy place for this very wicked world, right? You can decide beforehand how long you'd like to just enter that your safe space (choose a reasonable time span) and reward yourself with that after you've finished your required responsibilities for a day or a particular time. For example, for every 2 hours you spend working, take 10 minutes to enjoy yourself (set alarms accordingly) or for every time you finish a major task (be honest with yourself), take 5 minutes off. This way, you will find that you are motivated to be more productive because there's a reward waiting for you at every milestone of work you do. You can then decide to gradually reduce the amount of time spent hyperfocusing as you reap the juicy rewards of your productivity or relationship building in real life.
Thank you for reaching the last line of this article. What do you think about it, are there effective ways you have used to control your hyperfocus or average daydreaming? Please, share with us in the comment section!