It's official: our attention span is now smaller than that of a goldfish. According to Microsoft (who monitored the brain activity of 2,000 people), it is now just eight seconds. A goldfish can hold nine.
Of course, mobile phones are the culprits. And perhaps we should be congratulating ourselves the fact we are now multi-tasking geniuses. But sometimes, just sometimes, we really need to get some stuff done. I now have to plug my mobile in the other room while watching the Game Of Thrones to stop me from swiping away whole Daenerys scenes.
So, for when you need to focus, here are some steps to help.
1. Measure The Problem
Not sure how long you spend browsing online? Try downloading Rescue Time. It runs silently on your laptop, recording how much time you spend on certain web sites, and sends you a detailed report of your usage at the end of the day. Prepared to be shocked.
2. Download The Anti-Social App
If a look at Facebook to see what some friend you haven’t seen in six years is too tempting, turn on Anti-Social app. It works by blocking the sites – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and so on - that make you unproductive, and you can set it for anything from 15 minutes to eight hours.
3. Run. Swim. Spin. Repeat.
Not only is exercise incredible for making you feel happy, but a workout prior to hitting the office will aid your concentration throughout the whole day, as it releases chemicals that affect learning and memory into the brain. Simple.
4. Work In Short, Hard Bursts
You can’t be expected to work on max mode forever, so download the Pomodoro app. It encourages you to work in short, timed bursts, then take a break between sessions.
5. Make Your To Do List Fun
Getting your stuff done would be a lot easier to concentrate on if you enjoyed it a bit more. Try the Epic Win app, which turns your boring to-do list in to a virtual game where you gain points and move on to the next level with every completed task. If you’re at all competitive, this will work for you.
6. Grow A Digital Hipster Tree
Plants are basically this year’s beard – aka the ultimate hipster status symbol of choice. And now you can grow one digitally to help you stay off your phone. The Forest app allows you to plant a virtual seed that will grow into a beautiful tree – providing you don’t touch your phone.
7. Give Yourself Time To Go On A Brain Wander
Looking out the window and day-dreaming about Tom Hardy storming in to the office and demanding to take me for a Margarita is a vital part of any given day for me and it should be part of yours, too. So set aside some specific time to let your mind wander. It’s also proven that meditation is a great source of concentration so try downloading Headspace - after all, you can’t be concentration genius the whole time.
NB. If you’ve made it to the end of this piece without being distracted, well done to you – you probably didn’t need to read it in the first place.