Tunnel vision or prioritization


You’re trying to finish your math assignment of five questions… each with parts a, b, c and d. Your phone vibrates. Your mom is calling you. Your computer chimes. Your friend is texting you. After responding to the text, which becomes an entire thread, you look up at the clock to find an hour of time has passed. How do you focus?

Tunnel vision. Tunnel visioning is when one puts all of his/her attention on the task at hand. Every nonessential detail or environmental cue is blotted out. Sometimes, other important details are overlooked. In an age when our lives are so fast paced, distractions are everywhere. We all can agree it’s difficult, sometimes frustrating, to finish a project, chore or homework assignment without going off track.

Tunnel visioning helps weed out these technological distractions. Before I start my homework, I toss my phone in another room, close the lid of my laptop and shut the door. My mind is 100 percent focused on the task; I’m “tunnel visioning.” Sure, I might be tired or stressed, but through sheer willpower, I find that I can finish things quickly and accurately.

Intense one-path focus isn’t just useful for academics; it can also help with establishing your identity. We scroll through our Instagram feeds or snaps, pausing only to “like” something that appeals to us. For the vast majority of users, social media is a place to post what they want people to see. Happiness. Popularity. Fashion. We start to compare our lives to them, envying their “happiness, celebrations, popularity” and often, we lose sight of who we are as a person. Here, tunnel visioning may be effective to remove the stressors (or distractions) mentioned above. You can focus on what makes you unique by evaluating your own personality and tastes. It’s individuality minus the comparisons.

There has always been stigma around tunnel visioning, though. Sure, tunnel visioning may cause us to lose sight of the big picture, overlook other details or zone out, but its niche utility can be applied in not only academics but developing ourselves as well.


Given Walnut’s academic rigor and competitive environment, a strategic approach must be adopted to ensure scholarly success. That solution lies in a balanced workflow in which one delegates time and effort to accomplish tasks rather than resorting to tunnel visioning.

Tunnel visioning is a poor choice of habit that results in an unbalanced workflow, leading to students’ own detriment. For instance, prioritizing on a single field is very time consuming and causes students to become less cognizant of their time table. Instead, students should allocate their time accordingly depending on the amount and difficulty of their responsibilities, allowing adequate time and quality attributed to each.

Often, students turn to tunnel visioning when they do not plan well, leading to poorer quality in other areas lacking in care. Intense tunnel visioning necessitates people to overlook certain details when rushing through their tasks. Prioritization on a single topic places emphasis on one area at the expense of others. To remedy this, starting earlier and planning ahead will create a well-balanced system that satisfies students’ academic needs in a higher quality overall.

Furthermore, singling out one particular subject to focus on is not a sustainable or permanent recourse, as it is a mentally taxing option that will eventually cause burnout, a state of exhaustion resulting from overwork. Although tunnel visioning may be appropriate for short-term problems, it is far from a lasting option given its overwhelming toll. To prevent this, spreading out one’s workload is the most effective way to minimize burnout and promote a healthier working habit. For instance, whenever my friend returns home from school, she routinely plans out all of her assignments and allots specific time slots toward each. As a result, she completes her tasks in a timely manner and dedicates a proportional amount of time to all her academic obligations.

Tunnel vision is a negligent method to the student’s overall academic performance and wellness that must be avoided. On the contrary, students should allocate their full attention to complete all of their academic responsibilities to their best ability. Not only is a balanced procedure more productive, but it hones time management skills necessary for a mature lifestyle.

By Phillip Leung and Sherman Wu, Print editor-in-chief and Manager
Photo by Jessie Dixon