You set your mind to doing 90 minutes of focused work yet when faced with a white page and a blinking cursor, you immediately add a new tab and forget your plan in the first place. Don’t worry. You are not alone.
A Microsoft study released in 2015 found that the attention span of a human has drastically gone down, from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2021. This figure becomes even more alarming when compared to a goldfish’s attention span that is said to be 9 seconds on average. Naturally, traditional media and marketers blew this information out of proportion, missing out on important details that have altered what it’s really about. In reality, the study pertains to how long a person stays on a website and not necessarily how a compelling piece on the Internet grabs one’s attention. Plus, it’s common sense that we have a longer attention span than a goldfish given how long we can Netflix and chill, watch a YouTube video for 13 minutes or more, or exercise straight for 10 minutes. It’s just downright comical to even compare it to a goldfish in the first place.
That’s not to say that our declining attention span throughout the years is not a cause of worry. The Internet is saturated with information that we consume on daily but cannot fit in say 10 waking hours. It’s too much that it’s humanly impossible to go through everything. We respond by quickly scrolling to the next story without letting the mind grasp the information enough to retain it. The interface of most social media apps is also designed for users to navigate through the site faster. It’s easy to get caught in a loop of doomscrolling, mindlessly going up and down, left to right without really retaining any new information and just subjecting our eyes to screen strain. We also glorify a generation of productivity and multi-taskers. Because we’re so used to juggling too many things at a time, our mind quickly wanders from one thing to another.
Our short attention span becomes a threat to the quality of life we live. Because we jump from one thing to another, this causes stains on our relationships (even those we hold the most dear), makes us impatient to things that take time, affects our efficiency at work, and lessens our capacity to enjoy things fully.
Fret not because attention span can be fixed or elongated if one, you have the will to do so and two, the discipline to commit and follow through behavioral changes. Here are seven ways on how you can improve your attention span in this digital age of information:
Three to five minutes of daily meditation will do. The important thing is to deliberately take time from your busy schedule and sit down for a few minutes of deep focused breaths. Doing it daily will help establish it as a practice in the long run.
Meditation helps in improving a person’s focus and productivity. It also aids a person in noting distractions and getting rid of them to not affect work efficiency.
Exercise helps bring in more focused activity to your life. When you exercise, your body is subjected to some sort of tension that allows you to focus on the movement instead of letting your mind wander. Exercising daily, even for only five minutes, or walking outside of your house can help refocus your mind and pay attention to your task on hand.
Train your mind.
As much as physical activity is required, you must also do habits and practices that test your attention span. Talk to a friend and give your undivided attention to them. Focus on listening rather than thinking about what you should respond to while he or she is talking. Listen to a podcast without scrolling through the Internet. Pick up a book and read without reaching for your phone. Practice mindful eating and being hyper-focused on what you put in your mouth than watching a series as you grab a bite. Do other mindful activities that don’t involve screen time such as drawing or learning a new instrument.
Small, sustainable habits make big differences if done regularly.
Create barriers to easy access to distractions. Turn off notifications. Put your phone in a different room. Communicate to people that you are working on something so that they won’t interrupt you for a period of time. Delete apps.
Inject movement into your daily routine. Avoid sedentary activities that may easily bore you and divert your attention to nonsensical matters.
Why not use a desk bike while working? It helps keep your mind alert while finishing a task at work. Flexispot has three desk bikes available, one being the All-In-One Desk bike. It comes with a pedaling system, adjustable resistance levels, a comfortable seat cushion, and a removable desk.
Listen to classical music. Numerous studies have proven that classical music helps people to pay more attention to their tasks at the moment. It boosts brain functions and keeps you alert and motivated to move and act.
Declutter and keep an organized workstation. A messy environment takes up space in your mind and makes you shift from one thought to another, depending on what’s visible to your naked eye. Keep your workspace organized by installing storage solutions. Flexispot has an Under Desk drawer that can be mounted on any desktop surface, a mesh desk organizer that you can place on top of your desk to organize your work essentials, and a mobile file cabinet for bigger storage of files and documents.
A short attention span has been one of the cancers of this generation. While we pride ourselves on the accessibility of information, we also suffer with how we consume it. Not to worry because a short attention span can be solved through committing to behavioral changes.