A solitary victory has left the Royals second from bottom in the table and they face a critical relegation showdown with 18th-placed Southampton at St Mary's.
McDermott admits he fails at any attempt to divert his attention away from planning Reading's escape from relegation, but the 51-year-old believes the challenge facing him has honed his managerial skills.
"I play the guitar now and then and read books, but I'm always thinking about the next training session, player I need to talk to, our next game. It's all about football and where we have got to get to," he said.
"I'm a better manager this season than I was last season. Results wouldn't suggest that, but I think I will be a better manager for this experience.
"I've learnt that I'm very resilient and the only way to deal with a situation is to look at the present, not the future nor the past.
"In the last two years I've had to deal with the play-off final defeat and success of winning the Championship.
"In it's own way they have their own difficulties and that's a funny thing to say, but there are interesting dynamics with both of them."