Managing yourself creatively

Increase Your Ability to Concentrate

If you frequently find your mind wandering from what you ought to be doing, you probably can profit from the following exercise, first described by English psychologist A.R.Orage:

Take out your watch and observe the revolution of the second hand. It performs its circle in sixty seconds or one minute. Watch the hand as it begins a fresh circle and don’t let your eye wander from it to the little dial; but keep your eye focused on the moving hand. When you are honestly certain that you can keep the focus of your attention on the moving hand for one revolution, you will have made an important step in the deliberate development of your ability to concentrate. Now take another step. Keeping the focus as before, count mentally the numbers one to ten and backwards, slowly, during the course of one revolution of the hand. This requires a double attention, as it were. You are observing the movement and counting deliberately at the same time. At first, it may be easy, but do it! This is very important.

The next step is to add to these two simultaneous activities a third. While continuing to observe the moving hand with the eyes and counting with the mind, repeat to yourself some famous piece of verse; even a nursery rhyme will do.

The exercise can be made progressively difficult by adding fresh subjects for the attention. Two or three minutes at a time are enough.