Music Recommendation · Personalities & Quirks

Do You Have “Squirrel!” Syndrome?

“SQUIRREL!” [🖼️❗️]
Hands: [Furiously typing]



Silence. Stillness.

Mind: “…now what was I doing again?”

If that happens to you often, congratulations, you have Easily Distracted Syndrome, a.k.a. “Squirrel!” Syndrome!

This is from the animated movie Up; I love that movie. 🙂

Generally I can stay focused in a quiet place for a long time – I attribute that to years of childhood video gaming! Once upon a time during my college years, I stayed up to work on an assignment, and I managed to stay focused all night with only music to keep me company, without coffee. An hour passes very quickly when I sit down at a coffee shop and read articles on my phone (unless, of course, this happens). I have no issues focusing for a few hours at a time… unless a distraction finds me.

My office is notorious for distractions – it’s an open office, where the cubicle dividers are only up to my nose, and it’s small enough that there’s no desk there isn’t near a busy walkway (to the pantry, the printer room, etc). I put on earphones to shut out distracting sounds, but then someone asks me for a request, either physically or via email / instant messaging.

And darn that “You’ve got new email” icon! It’s smaller than any of my fingernails, yet it doesn’t fail to yell at me each time it pops up! 😦

Traits / Struggles of Easily Distracted People

If you think you have “Squirrel!” Syndrome but aren’t so sure, read on!

1. They need to read a sentence five times to get through it
~From Life Hack: 8 Struggles Only Easily Distracted People Would Understand

It depends. If it’s a simple email like “Please run this so-and-so report for me”, it’s not a problem. But if it’s a complicated email request that’s like 2 paragraphs long and isn’t clear, then I’d probably need 5 times to read it in order to get rid of that “Huh? What the heck is this person talking about?” feeling.

2. They cannot study and listen to music at the same time
~From Life Hack: 8 Struggles Only Easily Distracted People Would Understand

Hm, I think it depends on the music. Of course, blasting heavy metal songs at high volume isn’t going to help but to draw your attention (or make you cringe, if you’re like me), and I think songs with lyrics / singing are pretty distracting (it’s like someone’s talking to me while I’m trying to focus on studying 🙂 ).

I like video game soundtracks because they’re supposed to be accompaniment to the gameplay / story scenes, so I treat it as accompaniment to my study / work / blog writing / etc. I study better with music (my mind wanders too much without), plus it helps to set the mood when I’m writing stories!

Here’s one of the game soundtracks I like (from an online game called Granado Espada / Sword of the New World):

3. They have several unfinished projects laying around the house
~From Life Hack: 8 Struggles Only Easily Distracted People Would Understand

I do have quite a bit of unfinished projects! Like that photo album that I was going to fill up with photos (haven’t gotten them printed yet), or that code reference flash card I was going to make with a book-shaped name card holder, or the tens of unfinished stories in my computer, or the tens of post drafts on this blogs! I get random ideas like a waterfall, and I feel like I can’t get to them fast enough!

4. Their internet browser tends to be filled with more than three tabs
~From Life Hack: 8 Struggles Only Easily Distracted People Would Understand

I burst out laughing when I saw this, because at the time I had 10 internet browser tabs! It happens especially when I’m reading articles to quote on my blog post – I’d read one, intending to use it, then get distracted by a “related” article, then I’d get a new idea on a post and start writing on that, and then I get distracted by yet another “related” article!

I think there was once last week I had around 25 tabs open. 😀

5. They have several unanswered texts
~From Life Hack: 8 Struggles Only Easily Distracted People Would Understand

Here’s where I’m super efficient! If I see the “unread” icon, whether text messages or emails or whatnot, I have to read it now or it’d keep bugging at me (luckily I’m a bit of a speed reader, I can finish the thickest Harry Potter book in under 6 hours 🙂 ), and I’d usually reply immediately or file it under “to-do” folder or something.

6. They get distracted by everything at grocery stores
~From Life Hack: 8 Struggles Only Easily Distracted People Would Understand

You bet! That must be why I get so tired after a one-hour of grocery shopping, especially coupled with my HSP stimuli sensitivity (“LIGHTS COLOURS PEOPLE SALE SALE SALE AAAAAAAAAH”).

7. They can’t get through a story without starting another one in-between
~From Life Hack: 8 Struggles Only Easily Distracted People Would Understand

Well, this is a problem. I can’t tell a story without getting sidetracked from the main part – this happens all the time with my best friend, where I’d suddenly stop and say, “Wait, how did we even get to this topic in the first place?”

This happens with writing too. Do you know what’s worse than having random new story ideas in the middle of writing a story? Going to sleep and dreaming a brand new story idea up! Really, I think my brain is hardwired for fantasy or something – I get random dreams with fantasy elements where I’d wake up and say, “Hey, that’s a great idea!”

8. They can’t watch movies with subtitles
~From Life Hack: 8 Struggles Only Easily Distracted People Would Understand

This is where I disagree! I can only concentrate on a movie if I have English subtitles – mostly because it takes me longer (and more brainpower) to process verbal words than to read subtitles. If I have to watch a movie without subtitles, I have to really focus to listen to the characters, and by the time my brain processes the sentence, the character is already saying the next line! I’m usually all right listening in face-to-face interactions, so maybe I have problems with videos?

Bonus trait / struggle: Out of sight, out of mind!

This isn’t on the quoted list of 8, but I think it should be!

When I leave the house, I have no problem with routine items like my purse and phone, or my laptop back for work. But if it’s a non-routine item – like the house keys to my parents’ place when I go visiting – well, out of sight, out of mind! 9 out of 10 times I’d have to ring the doorbell to my parents’ place and ask someone to open the door for me. Or if I head out to throw the trash, I inevitably forget the one in the bedroom. Bleh.

What I Do to Minimise “Squirrel!” Syndrome

I already knew many years ago that I have “Squirrel!” Syndrome, so I have a few plans to minimise it!

  • Pick a place where I’ll be distracted least. When my work team’s seating locations are being relocated, I make sure to pick a place furthest away and facing away from the busy walkway, so that I don’t keep looking when someone passes by.
  • Listen to music on earphones. This works when the place gets a little busy (like my colleagues chatting a few seats away from me), and when I really want to get a bunch of things done. Except it doesn’t work when
  • Have a notepad (or a notepad app on the phone) at all times. Writing all the ideas (or to-do tasks) down helps my mind to stop thinking about it and focus on whatever at hand, because I know I could refer to it later. This particularly helps with the WordPress app, because I could immediately draft the title of any bright post idea I have.
  • Mute chat groups and other notifications (sorry, people!). Especially when you have like 100,000 notifications every minute. I learned this the hard way when I was in a group chat where 50 people were giving commentaries during World Cup season…
  • Put things to bring right before my house’s front door. Well, when I see it, I’ll remember to bring it!

On the Bright Side

Well, being easily distracted isn’t exactly all bad, because apparently being easily distracted is a sign of having higher intelligence!

 Workers who have trouble concentrating on a daily basis may be intellectually superior to their colleagues, according to a new study. Intelligent people may find it difficult to focus the mind because of all the amazing ideas constantly running through their genius brains, the research suggests.
~From The Telegraph: Intelligent People are More Easily Distracted at Work, Study Claims

Maybe it’s time for me to take a free IQ test. 😀

…wait, what was I doing again?

~Nicolle ❤️

A Short Self-Compassionate Letter to Self

Dear Self,

It’s always great to learn more on how you work and turn it into something fun! I can already see you’re comfortable with this “Squirrel!” Syndrome and flowing with it. 🙂

10 thoughts on “Do You Have “Squirrel!” Syndrome?

  1. My problem is kinda being easily distracted by books. Cause I love them.

    I can be writing a story or an article and see a friend walk by holding a book with a catchy title and body. Then, I’ll forget everything I’m doing and go after that book.

    Once I get it, I start to read until I finish. Luckily, like you, I am also a speed reader. You beat me to the Harry Potter book by an hour. I finish in just under 7 hours.

    After reading, I’ll continue with my writing but in most cases, I’ll lose interest.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You see, I only get distracted when it involves studying. I’d rather clean up my whole appartment than study. I am a pro in procrastination. It’s sad. because I procrastinate even the things I want to do. But making my way to the more disciplined life. Small steps :p

    Liked by 1 person

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