Have you ever walked into a room because you had to go get something and by the time you got there, you forgot what you were supposed to get? I don't know about you but this happens to me all the time! It's happened so frequently lately that I started doing some research on improving concentration, so I thought I’d write a post about it because I think it’s a highly relevant topic for many real estate shooters. Indeed, there are many in our community who, through financial need and/or business model design, have to do multiple real estate shoots in a day to make things work. There are some in our community who also shoot for design & build clientele, where it often takes 30-60 minutes to set up and execute a single shot because the client expects everything in the image to appear perfectly lit and staged. Either way, maintaining concentration during long days can be challenging.
Beyond the rigors of our day-to-day work though, our ability to concentrate is also impacted by the lightning-paced world in which we live. It seems we’re constantly being bombarded with stimuli of every sort (text messages, phone calls, social media posts, 24/7 news cycles, etc.). As a result, our ability to concentrate seems to be regularly under attack. Despite the nuisance of these distractions, they can sometimes come with a very appealing “dopamine hit” that brings momentary pleasure (i.e., alerts that tell us that a photo that we’ve posted on social media is getting lots of “likes”). To accommodate all of this, many people have concluded that they have to multi-task all the time in order to keep up with the ongoing distractions. In short, it’s become a habit.
There are several variables at play that can impact our concentration at a shoot, including the amount/quality of sleep we get or perhaps some challenging circumstances within one of our key relationships. These distractions can interfere with how we go about our workday and as a result, can negatively impact the quality of our images. That said, it is possible to get better at concentrating.
A recent study by Hardy, et al, found that spending just 15 minutes a day, five days a week on brain training activities (i.e., crossword puzzles, word searches, memory games, sudoku, etc.) made significant improvements on concentration. Such games can also help with short-term memory and problem-solving skills--activities that are particularly important for those of us who are getting up in years.
A great many photographers that I speak to bring music to a shoot. Research in this area has found that certain types of music have the biggest impact on our concentration. It would seem that classical music (in particular, Baroque classical music) can help concentration. If you’re not into such music, then other sounds can often be helpful (i.e., nature sounds or white noise.)
Surprise, surprise, right? Yes, where would most of us be without our morning coffee/tea? That said, if you find you're struggling with your concentration by the time your third or fourth shoot of the day comes up, then bringing along a thermos of your favorite caffeinated drink might be the way to go.
Yes, you always want to check with your healthcare provider when thinking about taking supplements, as they might interfere with any medication you might be taking but much data shows that certain supplements can improve concentration. These include folate, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, and guarana seed extract, to name a few.
We all have the occasional bad night’s sleep but if this becomes the norm, it can impact concentration and the quality of our work. You certainly don't need me to remind you of this but if you're not getting enough sleep, there are loads of wonderful resources online that can offer help, including this one. As for exercise, again, you don’t need me to preach to you about its value. Even if you’re like me and the thought of going to a gym makes you wince, then try going for a brisk walk around your neighborhood or, even better, on a local nature trail.
As with most habits, it takes time to start or break one. Trying many different things to see which ideas resonate more with you, in improving concentration, can make it easier to break the habit of being too distracted. I hope these key tips are helpful to you! For those of you who shoot multiple homes in a day, I hope you’ll take a moment to offer a comment describing how you keep your concentration during such a hard pace.