Fidget to Focus
Strategies for purposeful fidgeting to enhance powers of concentration.
by Roland Rotz, Ph.D., and Sarah D. Wright
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Do your kids swear that listening to music helps them focus when working on homework assignments? Do they score higher on tests if they’re allowed to chew gum? And how about you? Are you the kind of person who can either sit still or focus, but can’t do both at the same time?
If your answer is “yes,” you may already understand the thesis of Fidget to Focus: that doing “simultaneous sensory-motor activities” can be an effective way to enhance your powers of concentration.
Some people are embarrassed by their fidgeting, and do their best to stifle the impulse. But child psychologist Roland Rotz, Ph.D., and ADD coach Sarah D. Wright believe that purposeful fidgeting (which some take to be simple restlessness) can be a good thing. This is especially true for people with ADHD. “Restlessness is not just an expression of trying to ‘get out of the fidgets’ in order to become calm,” they write. “It is rather an attempt to self-arouse to become focused.”
Fidget to Focus is geared toward helping readers find socially acceptable forms of fidgeting. That means steering clear of self-destructive fidgets, such as biting your nails, picking your cuticles, smoking, and so on. And it means avoiding fidgets that others might find annoying – humming as you work at your desk, for example, or drumming your fingers on a desktop while listening to a colleague.
Over the years, I’ve found it helpful to knit during meetings. Moving my fingers and feeling the texture of the wool help me focus on what others are saying – and keep me from blurting out comments at inappropriate times. But I keep my knitting under the table, and I’m careful to maintain eye contact with the person who is speaking. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m not paying attention.
This short book provides review points at the end of each chapter, as well as a “Fidget Strategies Workbook” that readers can use to explore various kinds of fidgeting.
Updated on November 2, 2019