Focus: What happened to my attenti…oh look a bird!

I’m not sure if it’s because I am a Gen-Yer or I just have a severe case of ADHD, but I have come to realize that I have an attention span of less than 2 minutes. If I was asked to really focus on something, how would I go?

Production companies and TV networks used to hold people’s attention for twelve and a half minutes and then they would throw in a commercial break. They strategically worked out this is the optimal amount of time people could focus and take in information. These twelve and a half minute attention spans were then reflected in people’s day to day life. In their work, school, social and everyday life people were willing to give twelve and a half minutes of time and attention to any one subject matter because sub-consciously their brains have been programmed to function this way thanks to the amount of television watched.

Today however, are you like me? Not only are you watching TV for that twelve and a half minutes, you also have your laptop on your lap checking Facebook, and at every commercial break, if not punctuation mark in the show you’re watching, you are text messaging or playing a game on your iPhone because it seemed like you were getting bored with what is already going on in front of you?

I caught myself doing this a few nights ago. Although engrossed in the show I was watching (This Emotional Life doco on PBS), I was refreshing my Facebook page which to my shock and horror only told me that 3 people had changed their profile picture in the last 1 minute and 39 seconds since I last checked. I was also playing Angry birds on my phone where although I had completed the level, I wanted three stars, not your measly one star!!

I have noticed that because of this bad habit I have formed, not only is it doing damage to my attention span, it’s also not allowing my brain to absorb any of the information it’s trying to take in. The amount of information (which is usually not of consequence, like who updated their profile picture) that is actually running through my brain is like a torrent of words, videos, images and sounds that is flushing out the already stored information.

My challenge this week is to get rid of some of this noise. If I am watching TV, I will just watch TV. If I am reading, I will only read and not check my phone at the end of each page ‘just in case I missed something that my phone didn’t tell me about’. Also, now this may come as a novel thought, but what about silence? Turning off the TV, closing the laptop, and putting away the phone so that it’s not an attachment to my body that needs to be surgically removed. Allowing myself to digest the information I have already processed. Mull over the important things in life. Meditate.

In today’s world we can be so bombarded with new information and ‘noise’. Do you need to turn down the volume and listen to the still small voice again?

I would love to hear how you manage to increase your focus and take a moment to be still.

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2 thoughts on “Focus: What happened to my attenti…oh look a bird!

  1. I find that the more tired I am the more I tend to multitask and get distracted – even when I’m just watching tv. When I’m a work I take a powernap (in the sleep pods). I also find it’s easier be task focussed at work than in personal time. Probably should be the other way around…

  2. I loved your post Amber! I think multitasking is a myth….how can our brains really focus and concentrate on more than one thing at a time WELL? I try not having the TV on, or radio on, or reading billboards on the way to work. Thanks for your ideas!

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