10 Focus-Forming Habits To Lengthen Your Attention Span
Do you frequently find yourself drifting off during a meeting or a class? Or do you find it difficult focusing on what is being said or done at the moment?
These are signs of a short attention span. Sometimes, after a class or a meeting, you find it difficult to remember what was discussed as you could hardly concentrate when it was said.
Also, focusing on a particular project for a long time may be more difficult, especially when pressed with deadlines and long working hours.
Although focusing may be tasking and could lead to reduced productivity, you can still manage this issue and remain productive.
To this end, we’ve compiled a list of steps that you can follow to help you increase productivity as well as your attention span.
AVERAGE ATTENTION SPAN OF HUMANS
Attention span is the total amount of time you can spend on a particular task without getting distracted.
This distraction may arise as a result of getting continuously absorbed by an entirely challenging activity or feeling. One’s attention span is often said to be responsible for his or her achievement.
The attention span of a human is dynamic and relative as it depends on the amount of attention that is being used. T
he attention span of children increases as they get older; hence, a three-year-old may have an attention span of 3-8 minutes doing an exciting activity. Four-year-olds spend about 7-8 minutes on activity and could extend it to 15 minutes if it is a new and interesting one. Five-year-olds have an attention span of 10-15 minutes, which could get up to 25 minutes if they are working without distractions and in a group.
Further studies have shown that about 5 to 7 % of children have ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), and this is more common in boys than girls.
These children have trouble listening while someone is talking or completing a task, and while waiting for their turn.
Additionally, these children are also hyperactive and may also have a learning disability.
Adults and healthy teenagers have an attention span ranging from 10 to 20 minutes; however, individuals can decide to refocus on a particular activity after concentration has been broken.
Also, you can have an increased attention span if you are engaged in an activity you find comfortable and exciting as opposed to one who is working on something new or has just learned it.
Factors affecting attention span may include noise, fatigue, stress, hunger, emotional issues, amongst others.
Attention may be restored after you have taken a rest, done a different activity, mentally refocused, and deciding to refocus on the initial action.
TYPES OF ATTENTION
There are four distinct types of attention that we apply daily in a bid to maximize attention. They are:
- Selective attention
- Divided attention
- Sustained attention
- Executive attention
1. Selective attention
If you have been at a loud party or concert or a rowdy market and you are having a conversation with someone, you will find that if you try, you can hear most of the conversation no matter how difficult it is to understand everything that is being said.
This is as a result of your choice to listen to that one person than the other noise in the background.
You will deliberately block out the other sounds and pick out what is being said to you, thus, focusing on one sound stream.
This is called selective attention, and it occurs when you block out the noise or sound from your surrounding environment and focus on only one, in this case, the conversation with your friend.
2. Divided attention
This type of attention is more common these days because of how often we use our phones.
For instance, you can be texting with your phone while you are speaking with someone else physically. When you are trying to focus on two different things at the same time, you are using divided attention.
Divided attention differs from one instance to the other; some instances are easier to control than most. For example, you can be on a call while cooking, if you are using a loudspeaker.
However, a more challenging instance is when you are texting while talking to someone.
One may have to suffer for reduced attention as you are not investing your complete attention.
However, how well you can focus on divided attention is dependent on how accustomed you are to sharing your attention as well as your age.
3. Sustained attention
Sustained attention is more common with people who can work on a particular task for a long time.
When you can concentrate on one event or task around you for a prolonged time, then you are making use of sustained attention.
People like artists, painters, writers mostly possess such type of attention as it helps them with increased productivity.
The totality of sustained attention is known as attention span and differs from one person to the other.
When you try to focus on a particular activity without wavering and losing focus, you can boast of a high attention span as opposed to those who lose focus and continuously struggle to bring it back.
However, the constant practice of this type of attention could help you get better at it.
4. Executive attention
Executive attention is evident when you can block out unnecessary talk and events around you in a bid to focus on what you deem most important; then, you have executive attention.
If you can focus intently to create goals while monitoring your progress, you also have executive attention.
This type of attention is used when you have a set goal, and you are working towards achieving that goal despite the distractions.
Additionally, you find out that you keep track of your progress to know how much you are meant to cover, how much you have covered, and how much is left for you to cover.
You use these things as a guide to help you to achieve your goals.
10 FOCUS-FORMING HABITS TO LENGTHEN YOUR ATTENTION SPAN
- Create a schedule and follow it strictly
- Put your phone away
- Sit at the front
- Take breaks occasionally.
- Make use of helpful apps.
- Find out the most effective time of your day
- Exercise regularly.
- Make music your companion
- Practice until you are perfect
- Avoid glaring distractions
1. Create a schedule and follow it strictly
Idle thoughts greatly sponsor Mind-drifting.
Creating a working plan or structure that you follow thoroughly can allow your schedule to flow smoothly with little or no distractions.
You can begin a week with a schedule or working list of what you need to accomplish, hence, allowing you to do what is most important in the right order.
Interruptions are bound to occur; however, to the best of your ability, you may be able to achieve more than expected with a tight schedule.
A time frame allotted to individual tasks will make you more conscious and strive to round up your tasks. This is because other activities need to be done within the time.
According to Jill Tipograph, when in doubt, opt to over-schedule instead of under-scheduling.
Hence, your schedule should include when you will take calls when to perform tasks of different projects, break, and mealtimes. This will help you feel accomplished when you do even the little jobs.
Additionally, try scheduling your meetings and calls accordingly to utilize your time efficiently.
Having meetings and taking calls throughout the day could be interruptive and make you feel less accomplished.
2. Put your phone away
With the advancement in technology comes a bit of a downside; addiction.
Our phones have gradually become a part of our lives that cannot be taken away.
Working with your phone close to you is a bit problematic, as you will always be tempted to check your notifications. This is more likely to happen when you pause to think about what next to do.
However, if your phone is far from you, you won’t be tempted to look for it.
Additionally, it also helps your sleep pattern as you won’t be tempted to thumb through it, hence, allowing you to sleep when you have to.
Putting your phone in the silent mode will let you focus on the task at hand without much hassle. A sleep schedule alongside your work schedule will leave you more productive.
3. Sit at the front
Sitting behind during a class or a meeting may not necessarily mean that you are unserious; however, sitting in the front will set you up for intense concentration with little or no distraction.
There is no harm sitting with your “overzealous” colleagues in front to get a clearer understanding.
It’s not uncommon to see students staying glued to the board and the teacher to gain more understanding and avoid missing out on details.
In the same way, sitting behind may lead to distractions as you might not hear what is being said, or someone may be obstructing the screen.
These and many more are bound to cause disturbances and make you lose focus.
Thus, try as much as possible to position yourself close to the speaker and screen to allow for more concentration as well as an avenue for questions.
4. Take breaks occasionally
The temptation to sit still and accomplish everything you ought to without moving from the seat is high.
However, you will notice that more times than not, you will have blanked out and just stared at the screen.
This is where breaks are essential. It allows you to recharge, refresh, relax your brain and come back with more ideas. It does not have to be a long one; just stretching your legs, arms, ease off stress or getting a snack is one that might help go a long way.
Also, you could change your sitting position or location; this will help increase your focus as well as your creativity.
Although breaks are a good idea, it should not be too long as it will only serve to be a fatal distraction without being productive.
5. Make use of helpful apps
As much as phones are a bit of a distraction, if you must use it, try using it for something productive. Many applications are made to help you work better, offering as much help as possible.
Some phone apps also are miniature versions of what you use on your computer; therefore, this can enhance your productivity by constantly reminding you of your daily tasks that are yet to be accomplished.
Also, you can create a schedule on your phone to help you manage your day better as well as meet up with set deadlines. Sheryl Sandberg says that after completing a plan, she rips it off and starts again.
This action offers you a feeling of accomplishment and helps you look forward to the next one.
Additionally, some apps challenge you and encourage quick thinking.
Using these apps will ensure that the time spent on your phone will be as productive as when you are using your computer.
6. Find out the most effective time of your day
Everyone has their most productive time of the day.
Some people are more active and productive in the morning, noon, or night.
When they perform tasks at this time of the day, it is easier to deliver accurately with little or no distractions.
Structure your schedule to fit your active moments so you can deliver to the maximum.
If you are more active during the day, fix the important tasks at this time of the day so you will be at your best while working.
Also, if you work more during the wee hours of the morning, try your best to do minimum work in the day, don’t sleep late so you can wake up early fully energized.
Additionally, if you work best at night, avoid working close to your bed as you may be tempted to sleep before you finish up.
7. Exercise regularly
Many people believe that exercising will only make you feel tired, but on the contrary, it keeps you active.
If you do exercise in the morning, it makes you start your day with a punch, literally.
Asides its health benefits, it has immense positive effects on you, mentally and physically.
When you exercise, oxygen is transported to the brain in large amounts; when this occurs, stress levels are lowered while allowing the brain to work even more effectively.
Morning exercises are best to kick start your day; however, little stretches here and there at midday may still help you focus more.
8. Make music your companion
Music is an excellent tool for focus forming. It enhances productivity while leaving the mood light and cheery.
The type of songs you listen to should, however, be good enough to allow you to work while it is on.
Some people may opt for classical music or just soothing instrumentals, as these may have less known lyrics that will make you sing along.
Consequently, the music you listen to will determine the amount of attention you give to a particular task.
Additionally, avoid songs that are too loud or with too many lyrics as this may make you give your job divided attention.
9. Practice until you are perfect
If you are struggling with divided attention, but you are trying to upgrade to executive attention, you should know that you will lose focus occasionally as it requires practice.
When you start cultivating this habit, you may flunk it during your first try; however, constant practice will make you get better at it.
While learning to focus more, you might make a mistake and lose focus at first because this is unfamiliar and is out of your comfort zone, though it is not something that cannot be done.
Familiarize yourself with the practice and learn to be better while at it.
Don’t let your mistakes stop you from getting better.
10. Avoid glaring distractions
It is impossible to work without distractions; it is what you do with these distractions that matter.
If you indulge them, they consume your time and make you exceed deadlines while letting you lose valuable time.
Most times, the idle chat with your colleagues may be fair for social reasons, but when you have a pile of undone tasks, and then it is a distraction.
Try as much as possible to optimize the time spent while chatting and the time you spend while working.
Additionally, these distractions could be another task; let go of the excesses and focus on one task until you are done and satisfied with the outcome.
This will allow you more time to finish up what you are meant to do.
Other ways to improve your attention span include:
- Drink more water.
- Make a list of your priorities.
- Focus on one task at a time.
- Take little steps at a time.
- Focus and Refocus
Over the years, the average attention span reduces regularly. In 2000, the attention span was 12 seconds, while in 2013, it decreased to 8 seconds.
Thus, focusing on tasks at hand may prove a bit tasking, but the habits listed above will serve to improve your attention span.
Also, when you lose focus while reading, working, or even in a meeting, the best thing to do is to refocus again as this helps you.
When you do this continuously, you will be able to pay attention to things that may take longer than a few minutes.
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