It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll be doing three hours of focused work but as soon as you open your laptop and check your email Inbox, you mindlessly add a new tab and forget your plan in the first place. This happens more often than not to the point of frustration. If you feel you are a hopeless case, you are not alone.
Studies have shown that the attention span of humans has gone down dramatically throughout the years. In 2015, Microsoft discovered that the human attention span declined from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds, below than that of a goldfish which lasts 9 seconds on average. This information was blown out of proportion that people missed important details. For instance, the basis of the attention span the study pertains to is how long a person stays on one website and not necessarily how long one grasps the information available. Plus don’t humans watch hours on the end of Netflix, a YouTube vlog for more than 13 minutes, or exercise for 20 minutes straight. It was just a piece of information they wanted to go viral.
That’s not to say that our shortened attention span is not something we should worry about. This is a generation of over information, the information we all can’t take even with 10 hours on the Internet in a day. We don’t even retain bits of information anymore with how fast-paced everything is. They have also designed the interface of most social media apps to make users stay longer but with one short video after another. Before you know it, you already got caught in a loop of doomscrolling, mindlessly going up and down, left to right. We also have the tendency to award individuals with high productivity and multi-tasking skills. Our minds are so used to juggling too many things at a time that they quickly wander off without retaining any new information.
Our short attention span is now threatening our quality of living. It has the power to impact our relationships negatively, makes us impatient that we speed up things that should take time, affects our work efficiency, and reduces our energy to fully enjoy everything we do.
But we are not a lost case. This is reversible if one is willing and disciplined to change their behaviors. We listed down seven ways on how to increase your attention span in today’s times.
1. Meditate daily.
It doesn’t have to be long. Three to five minutes of meditating daily is already enough. What is important to develop is the habit of taking time from your busy schedule and sitting down for a few minutes of deep focused breaths. Once it has become almost second nature to you, it’ll be a practice for life.
Meditation helps improve a person’s productivity. It would help you to note distractions and how to let go of them as they pass by.
2. Break a sweat.
Living an active lifestyle will help you stay disciplined and focused. When you exercise, parts of your body feel a bit tense which makes you focus on the movement instead of letting your mind wander. Exercise even for just five minutes daily or walk outside of your house to help refocus your mind and pay attention to your task when you’re already ready.
3. Train your mind.
Improving your attention span requires mind games. Test it out and practice as often as you can. Focus on listening when your friend shares a story with you rather than thinking about what you should respond to while he or she is talking. Listen to a podcast without touching your phone and scrolling through the Internet. Pick up a book and read a chapter without a break. Focus on the food you eat and how you do it instead of watching a series when you finish your meal. Lessen screen time and do mindful activities that don’t require it such as painting or playing an instrument.
Small habits are sustainable and make a big difference if done consistently.
4. Limit distractions.
Know yourself and what distracts you. Once you are aware of your distractions, create barriers to things that allow you to easily tap into them. Turn off all your notifications across all electronics. Put your phone in a different room where it’ll be a hassle to grab. Tell others when you are busy working on something so that they won’t interrupt you for a certain period of time. Delete or uninstall apps.
5. Inject movement in your daily routine.
Sedentary activities have the ability to bore you and divert your attention. Avoid them.
The best way to do this is to transform your sedentary job into an active one. It will help keep your mind alert while finishing a task at work. It could be the Flexispot V9 Pro Home Office Height Adjustable Cycle Desk Bike. It comes with a keyboard tray where you can place your laptop while you pedal at a chosen resistance level. If you don’t want to use the keyboard tray, it’s easy to remove it. If you share a room, don’t worry about making noise because it’s whisper-quiet. It also has an integrated digital display that could track your progress.
6. Listen to classical music.
Some people don’t believe it but numerous studies have shown that classical music helps with focus and retaining of information when studying or working. The composition of the music boosts the functions of your brain and keeps you alert and motivated to finish whatever you are doing. So if it’s crunch time and you need to work quickly, you may blast on some classical music and you’ll definitely see for yourself the benefits.
7. Declutter and keep an organized workstation.
A messy environment takes up space in your mind and has the tendency to make work look overwhelming to you. Keep your workspace organized by installing storage solutions and having the habit of returning something to where you got it right away. An under desk drawer, a mesh desk organizer, or a mobile file cabinet would be perfect to organize your work essentials without having to stand up or walk from one point to another.
This generation has suffered from a condition of short attention span. While we pride ourselves on these times’ accessibility to information, we also suffer with how often and how deeply we consume it. This doesn’t mean however that a short attention span would stay this way forever. Committing to behavioral changes will help lengthen the attention span and make us better employees, individuals, friends, and members of the family.