The dwindling attention span of human beings has now reached a record low level of 8 seconds. And with this, we are even worse than the most ill-focused beings on the planet- the Goldfish!
The growing impact of media on our daily life is one of the causes for this change, because the internet is flooding us with information that we cannot even process.
This sea of distractions has taken a toll on our ability to focus and we have reached a stage that calls for some serious action.
Let’s understand what is the ‘attention span of human’ involved in a digital lifestyle and how does it affect us.
Merriam Webster dictionary defines attention span as the length/duration for which an individual/group is able to concentrate. And, it is directly related to the functional ability of our brain.
The average attention span by age chart shows a decrease due to the excessive use of social media, search engines and smart devices. With the heavy dose of information around us, we are constantly in search of more and more uniqueness.
This restless chase of newness is making us highly anxious. Our minds are now busy just to prioritize attention. Our restless minds are like wandering machines and most of the time we are even busy daydreaming.
As per the BBC, almost 50% of the time, we are engaged in daydreaming!
Our digitalized lifestyle and the impact of media on our daily life has robbed us of our peace of mind!
There is an urgent need of eliminating distractions to increase our shrinking attention span.
Let’s discuss 5 practical tips that can help to improve our overall focus:
- Move out of the multitasking mode-
The attention span of human involved in a digitalized lifestyle is closely related to habits of multitasking which is the attempt to achieve more in less time. This habit is an enemy of our quality and productivity as it hinders our mind’s capacity to focus on a single task.
Several researches have shown that the accuracy and time taken in task completion
gets adversely affected while multitasking.
This is so because performing more than one task at a time leaves our mind frantically swapping between things. Unfortunately, we fail to understand the implications of these harmful habits which are often considered a necessary skill.
In a survey, 64% of the participants from generation Z agreed that multitasking is an important skill!
But how to move out of these habits?
At the very onset, we need to understand that with multitasking, our brain starts behaving like a puzzling task switching machine. The shrinking attention span by age chart can be controlled by bringing down our habits of multitasking and the simplest way to get rid of this habit is to practice single-tasking.
First and foremost, you can start with things that are highly significant for you. For example- take up the challenge of staying away from the mobile phone while studying. It will train your mind to reject distractions and you will gradually move away from unnecessary stress.
At times, multitasking is a result of our poor planning. So, it is also important to get more sorted and organized with your everyday working habits. Learn to prioritize things and plan your schedules well in advance. All this will make a positive impact on your overall focus and you will feel lighter, happier and contented with your work.
- Boost your attention by utilizing your break time-
Attention span of human beings is also impacted by factors like physical fatigue. So, if you are in a habit of studying or working for lengthy durations without a break, rectify this mistake asap!
Remember that working for a longer duration does not improve your productivity. Instead, it brings it down by depriving your mind of its share of a good resting period. Always rejuvenate your mind with periodic high-quality breaks. And most importantly, try to keep them screen-free.
A hot cup of coffee, a scrumptious meal and a few minutes of meditation is enough to boost your productivity. So make sure you heed the basic requirements of your body and give it these much-needed breaks.
- Practice selective attention to be more productive-
The Microsoft attention span study shows that digital lifestyles negatively impact our ability to concentrate for a prolonged period. But at the same time, this study also highlights the importance of selective attention to minimize distractions.
Selective attention means discarding irrelevant information and paying attention only to important information.
In other words, it is a practice to reject unnecessary load from the mind even before it reaches the processing stage. It is a great way of lightening the load of your thoughts and emotions and an excellent way to successfully filter out distractions.
With selective attention, our mind only allows meaningful information to pass through. In a way, it develops a coping mechanism that helps in improving the overall attention span of human involved in a digitalized lifestyle.
To practice selective attention, you must learn to identify the elements that can slow down your attention. Once you figure this out, choose the information that you can allow to pass through your mind. Try it with specific tasks or general ways of thinking over a period of time and gradually your mind will get in the mode of ‘single thinking’.
- Heighten the ability to filter out distractions-
Do you know that 17% of the Millennials (between 18 to 34 years) are now used to multiple media usage!
Yes! Media consumption has largely impacted the average attention span by age chart. But thankfully, there are some ways of dealing with it.
One of the most obvious and mindful solutions to improve focus and concentration is to meditate as it helps our mind to calm down and effectively fights the distractions around us.
A common form of meditation that is easy for beginners is ‘breath meditation’. It is helpful to improve your focus and positively enhances the functioning of your working memory.
Other than this, physical activities are also great to hone your concentration abilities. These help in building your brain muscles that in turn strengthens its cognitive functions. Simple exercises like running, swimming, pushups and walking improve the centralized control of your body, which in turn improves your capacity to focus better.
- Develop a habit of reading for sustainable attention-
Reading is a fabulous activity for selective attention (already discussed as per the Microsoft attention span study). It has the power to eliminate irrelevant external distractions and improves the overall brain connectivity.
Reading builds sustainable attention which means that the reader is able to retain his/her attention for a longer period of time. Close reading is certainly a perfect tool to calm down the pace of a wandering mind. But again, you need to be careful with the material that you choose to read. Because it should be interesting enough to hold your attention span.
Evidently, skimming and scanning give us an idea of the written content. But to improve the narrowing attention span by age chart, in-depth reading is a better option.
Even the top accredited online schools foster habits of supplementary, in-depth and repetitive proofreading in students because it helps in strengthening the focus for a relatively long time period.
In-depth reading can be practiced with some simple activities for even better results. For example- you can read a paragraph or a topic and identify some new words, information, facts, findings and again repeat this exercise with the same content to find some more of these. This practice will hold your focus with the goal of finding new information. Gradually you will be able to develop a better concentration level.
The researches related to the attention span of humans show a more negative
impact of media on our daily life and it is also responsible for aggravating some serious
mental health issues.
The findings of the Microsoft attention span study and other prominent agencies have shown us the path to combat these challenges. We now need to learn how to boost our attention spans.
We cannot expect to drastically reduce the impact of media in our daily life, but it is still possible to limit its use for a healthier and happier life.
The ideal way to do this is to get rid of gadget addiction!
Quick tips to overcome gadget addiction-
- Delete the irrelevant applications from your phone
- Keep a phone-free period before bedtime
- Quit the dependence on mobiles for simple tasks such as checking dates, time, etc.
- Ensure a gadget-free mealtime
- Turn off all unnecessary notifications
- Use silent/flight mode and turn off the vibrations for a fixed number of hours each day after work
So let us learn how to disconnect these devices and make an effort to connect
with our focus……..because
‘Moderation is the key to life!’
Thanks for reading!