The human attention span has been never been so low. A study conducted by Microsoft in 2015 suggests that the average human has an 8-seconds attention span. The number has shrunk over the years due to our digital connectedness.
Staying on task can be difficult, but it can be particularly challenging when you are surrounded by constant distractions. In today’s always-connected world, diversions are nothing more than a click away.
Even during quiet moments, distraction is literally at your fingertips as you find yourself checking your Instagram notifications or the latest news updates.
The ability to concentrate on something in your environment and direct mental effort toward it is critical for learning new things, achieving goals, and performing well across a wide variety of situations.
Whether you are trying to finish a report at work or competing in a marathon, your ability to focus can mean the difference between success and failure.
There are plenty of things that you can do to boost your focus. But, here are some 7 proven ways to develop razor-sharp focus.
#1: Turn Off Notifications
One of the easiest ways to regain control over your focus is to turn the notifications from email, instant messaging, and other apps off.
Notifications and alerts are made to pull your attention away from what you are doing so you grab your phone again.
Remember, notifications only have one purpose: to suck you into an app so you spend more of your time and attention there, equalling higher profit for the company behind the app.
By allowing notifications, you let other people or companies (Facebook, YouTube, Google) disrupt you whenever they please.
Look, smartphones aren’t the problem. It’s all the buzzing and dinging, endlessly calling for your attention.
Whether they are notifications or other people bugging you, find a way to turn it off. You can’t expect your brain to focus if Ram is constantly messaging you.
#2: Don’t Multi-task
Multi-tasking might seem like a great way to get a lot of things done at once. In reality, multitasking is a myth.
Research shows that human brains are not nearly as good as at handling multiple tasks as we like to think they are. In fact, some researches also suggest that multitasking can actually reduce productivity by as little as 40%.
While it might seem like we are accomplishing multiple things at a once, but what we are really doing is quickly shifting our attention from one thing to the other.
Multitasking is certainly not new and we need to do multitasking time and often. But with the constant streams of information from numerous different sources do represent a relatively new dimension of multitasking.
But we practice multitasking every day.
We read the news while eating breakfast.
We are scrolling Facebook feeds while walking.
We are texting while we reading.
Over-time, we have practiced multitasking so much that we have mastered the art of distraction.
We have lost our ability to focus on things at hand for an extended period of time.
But we can regain our ability to focus and concentrate if we stopped multitasking and find ways to maintain focus on the task at hand.
#3: Posture Control
“Stand up straight”. We have heard this advice at one time or another. Your posture controls how your mind feels and acts.
You slouch when you are depressed or when you feel lazy. And the opposite is also the same. You feel depressed and lazy when you slouch.
But when you are up straight, it means you are active and ready to do something. We are more likely to remember positive memories or think of something positive in general.
When you slouch, you catch negative vibes and feel lazy. Sluggish or lethargic posture means you are exhausted and can even lead to the development of stress.
#4: Be Active
If you don’t exercise you are always going to be slow and sluggish. How can you intend to focus on a state like that?
Exercise, along with its multiple health benefits also helps you to focus on an individual task. One thing we should practice every day is to be active between the work sessions. Take a short 5 minutes breaks to walk or do at least 10–20 pushups.
Get your heart rate up. This helps trigger endorphins, which improve the prioritizing functions of the brain. Your ability to sort out priorities improves, allowing you to block out distractions and better concentrate on the task at hand if you take short breaks to do a small physical activity than sitting on the desk all day long.
#5: Be Goal-Oriented
When you are working on something, instead of focusing on the hours put in, focus on what you want to get done.
Instead of allocating certain hours for yourself to work, start being goal-oriented.
Becoming goal-oriented allows you to effectively allocate your time and energy to tasks that drive progress toward the results you want. Developing a goal-oriented mindset means focusing your energy in three major areas: planning and organizing your tasks, completing tasks, and maintaining your motivation.
Becoming more driven through setting goals, helps you get more done efficiently, and helps you work harder for what you are trying to accomplish. Setting goals for yourself helps you pay more attention to the little things that get to your final result.
#6: Read More Books
Building a reading habit can do wonders for your attention span. It’s better than binging tv-shows. Whether it’s fiction or self-help, start reading. Reading not only improves your brain’s connectivity, but it also increases attention spans, focus, and concentration.
When you read a book, all of your attention is focused on the story or gaining a better understanding of a particular topic — the rest of the world just falls away, and you can immerse yourself in every fine detail you’re absorbing.
Books with better structures encourage us to think in sequence — the more we read, the more our brains are able to link cause and effect.
You’ll be surprised at how much focused you get. Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation.
Yes! you heard that right. I don’t think there is any better way to improve focus than practicing meditation on a daily basis.
Meditation is just like exercise: it trains the brain as if the gray matter were a bundle of muscles. You work those muscles and they get stronger. Meditation can help people focus their attention and sustain it — even during the most boring of tasks.
Meditation doesn’t require a reserving large chunk of time. You can spare out some minutes for yourself and you are ready to go.
Yes, it is true that we have lost our attention span and struggle to focus and concentrate on the task in hand.
But, fortunately focus is like a muscle, the more you work on building it up, the stronger it gets.
These are the 7 proven ways to develop razor-sharp focus:
- Turn off all notifications
- Stop Multitasking
- Avoid Sluggish Posture
- Do some physical activity
- Focus on your goal, instead of focusing on the hours put in
- Start Reading Books
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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