Are you tired of dealing with kids who seem to have lower levels of attention span with every passing day? Unfortunately, it is not just your kids — this constantly dropping attention span is a global phenomenon.
The Brain’s Attention Span
Our brain is a complicated and powerful organ that controls our entire system. But even though it is highly capable, there are certain internal and external factors that can hamper its functioning, namely the abundant information that surrounds us and the thoughts that creep into the brain, even when we are trying to focus on an important task.
According to experts, this happens because the brain’s ability to look for information is greater than its capacity to focus and process the information. This is where our attention span comes into play.
The brain utilizes its attention span to skim through the information and pick what it needs while being constantly distracted by various factors like a phone call or the urge to keep checking social media feeds.
Studies conducted on the brain’s functioning found that the attention span of school students averaged between three and five minutes. Other studies have shown that a typical phone user tends to check his or her gadget at least 200 times a day, which means that we are all probably reaching for our phones every five minutes when we are awake. This is exclusive of other distractions like the television, a phone ringing off its hook and children fighting for the remote.
But isn’t that where multitasking works its charm?
Though many of us claim that we can multitask efficiently, at home or at work, the truth is that we are not wired for it. Multitasking can often distract the brain and reduce our ability to focus fully on each task.
There is abundant evidence to prove this fact too. Think back to an evening that you might have spent watching an episode of your favorite show as your children played beside you and dinner was on the stove. You may be surprised to notice that you probably only remember bits and pieces of the show if you remember anything at all.
Another disturbing, but common example are the accidents that happen to pedestrians using phones. Between 2000 and 2011, the U.S. alone saw more than 11,000 injuries caused by phone-related incidents. So, would you reconsider multitasking now?
Can We Improve Our Attention Span?
Fortunately, there is a way to improve our attention span — by practicing mindfulness exercises. Mindfulness exercises help the brain focus on the present moment without giving in to external distractions and emotional responses to the present experience.
And, just like physical exercise, the more you practice mindfulness the better are the prospects of improving your attention span.
Mindfulness tips for improving attention span:
- Keep distractions, including cell phones, as far away as possible, especially when working on important tasks.
- Keep a time slot for checking emails and social media, as those are among the biggest distractions that people face today.
- Spend some time with nature to help improve cognitive performance in both children and adults.
- Practice meditation regularly and you may see an improvement in focus and concentration.
- Exercise regularly to support physical and mental health. Choosing exercises that also engage the brain, like those that require you to follow instructions, might be more beneficial.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day because dehydration can negatively impact concentration.
- Sleep well, because even one night of bad sleep can impact your cognitive functioning.
- Don’t multitask, simply because our brains are not designed to do so. Focus on one activity at a time to achieve optimum results.
- Drink black tea instead of coffee because the L-theanine in black tea may stimulate the part of the brain that regulates attention.
Considering the lack of attention span that we all suffer from, it is probably time to reconsider multitasking and learn to focus on one task at a time.
This Is How To Increase Your Attention Span: 5 Secrets From Neuroscience. (2018, March 25). Retrieved from https://www.bakadesuyo.com/2018/03/attention-span/
Vozza, S. (2015, November 06). 8 Quick Ways To Improve Your Attention Span. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3052830/8-quick-ways-to-improve-your-attention-span
The Science of Taming the Wandering Mind. (2018, June 08). Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/taming-the-wandering-mind/
How Can We Pay Better Attention To Our Attention? (2018, August 20). Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/how-can-we-pay-better-attention-to-our-attention/