Improve Your Attention Span with These Daily Practices

Do you feel like a goldfish sometimes? Do you forget facts right after you’ve heard them? Do you struggle making it through an entire longread article without starting to skim or moving on to something else? Are you already waning in attention and starting to skim this article? No need to be hard on yourself. It doesn’t mean you’re not smart—it means your attention span is a little rusty.

Why Your Attention Span Matters

Back in 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds. Does that sound pathetic? Well now, in 2018, it’s eight seconds. (For reference, a goldfish’s attention span is rumored to be around nine seconds, although there isn’t much evidence to confirm that.) Our attention spans have become snack-sized.

There are other major downsides to our decreasing attention capacity—besides being beat out by goldfish.

It means we can’t learn new things as easily; it means we remember less; and it means we are much less present, always on the exhausting mental prowl for something newer, flashier, more exciting to stimulate us.

How to Improve Your Attention Span

It doesn’t have to be that way. Want to combat your dwindling focus? Try these daily practices…

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Practice yoga and/or meditation.

Just like your core needs training to stay strong, so does your attention span. Since media content is being designed to cater towards our shortening spans, that means you need to make a conscious effort to practice building yours back up.

Unsurprisingly, meditation and yoga actually exercise the part of the brain responsible for prolonged focus. In one study, participants who practiced meditation for 10 to 20 minutes, four times a week demonstrated better memory and attention span than those who focused on eating brain-fueling foods.

There’s no debate. Meditation is a powerful changer of the brain and can help you regain your focus. (It seems like more meditation is the answer to everything, doesn’t it?)

Put down the phone and exercise.

According to research, a mere 20 minutes of moderate exercise actually increases cognitive control. It was even shown to help students with ADHD pay attention longer.

If you really want to reap the benefits, put your phone on airplane mode. Exercise is a great way to practice living in the moment, listening to the sound of your own heavy breathing and the pounding of your rhythmic footsteps. Plugging in and listening to the new Serial podcast, as good as it is, takes you out of that beneficial meditative state.

Give your mind a break from the incessant tech stimulation. Just strap on your sneakers and let your mind flow.

Attractive man in glasses working with multiple electronic internet devices. Freelancer businessman has laptop and smartphone in hands and laptop on table with charts on screen. Multitasking theme.

Stop multitasking.

In general, humans are terrible at multitasking. What’s that? Not you? Not so fast. Researchers have shown that people who feel confident in their abilities to multitask tend to be much worse at multitasking than they think.

Multitasking is often seen as a sign of hyper-productivity, but it is anything but. According to a Stanford study, multitaskers often take way longer to get their projects done than those who focus on one thing at a time. In fact, in all the research, monotaskers consistently outperformed heavy multitaskers.

This is not only because it takes the brain time to adapt to a new subject and get back in the flow but because the multitasking brain gets distracted more easily.

That doesn’t just go for projects. Remember this the next time your phone buzzes for your attention while you’re having a conversation with a friend. Multitasking your conversations isn’t just impossible to do while maintaining full presence of mind, it’s rude.

Enjoy quiet time.

If you constantly have the radio, music, TV shows or podcasts playing the the background, shut them off. Quiet time can feel really uncomfortable, if you’re not used to it, but it allows your brain to focus wholeheartedly at the task at hand. When you have distractive ambient noise, there is always a small percentage of your focus listening to that, even if you don’t think you are.

The one exception? Classical music.

Listening to short symphonies actually improves the brain’s ability to focus. Why? It’s actually not the music at all, but the breaks within the music. The time between movements of classical music actually engages the area of the brain responsible for paying attention and peaks brain activity. So, if you really hate quiet time, put on some soft Beethoven and reap the benefits.

Do you struggle with your attention span? Do you feel it has gotten worse the more youve relied on technology? Share your experiences with the Care2 community below.  

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63 comments

Paula A
Paula A4 days ago

thanks for posting

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JoAnn Paris
JoAnn Paris5 days ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne Rogers6 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne Rogers6 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne Rogers6 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Emma L
Emma L8 days ago

Thank you for posting

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David C
David C8 days ago

thanks again

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David C
David C9 days ago

thanks

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Lesa D
Lesa D10 days ago

thank you Jordyn...

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Berenice Guedes de Sá

Thanks so much for sharing this interesting info!!!

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