An interesting study of 2010 indicated that we spent 47 per cent of our waking hours thinking about things we aren’t doing. So almost half our waking hours our mind is wandering.
The level of distractions we are currently surrounded by social media, technology, pandemic, etc. is actively contributing and impacting our attention and concentration levels. Plus, ageing leads to a decline in our attention span too.
It may not always be a concern to have a short attention span, but it could also indicate an underlying condition, such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or any other mental health issue. We all can agree that stress impacts our attention!
But everything is manageable if we learn a few hacks to improve our attention span. Let’s explore some valuable hacks that will surely aid your attention.
Chew the gum
Research studies have found ample evidence about chewing gum and improved attention span as it elevates alertness. It will not only help you stay attentive, improve your productivity but also keep your stress levels at bay. So next time try chewing the gum and keep your attention in check.
Honour your wishes
If you seem to have zero control over your attention, fret not! Take a break, be distracted mindfully. Sounds paradoxical, but it can be helpful. Instead of wasting your time focusing when you seem to not, choose to honour your needs. The break needs to be short and refreshing, so when you return you can start afresh. You could do activities like take a long stroll, get a beverage, or scroll through your social platforms.
Questions to the rescue
Meetings, school classes or conferences are a breeding ground for attention loss. The reason is we might not be actively processing the information, as after a certain time we reach saturation. Plus, with current events where things are virtual, the problem is further aggravated.
Given an instance that this could be the most important lecture or meeting, but your mind has left to wander, asking questions can help. The reason being the questioning helps to keep you engaged, provides a break from the information overload, and improves alertness. It can help you comprehend better and even perform better at the task. So when in doubt or loss of attention, ask a question.
Go back to old ways of taking notes
Research done by Princeton University revealed the differences in attention span of those who take notes on a laptop compared to those who take notes by hand. It has been observed that taking notes by hand keeps you engaged more, mindful information is noted and there is better alertness.
Laptops can lead to distraction due to notification pop-ups, etc and a lot of times the information is typed in mindlessly. Hence, go back to school and old ways. It will aid your attention span.
DIY your space and make it distraction-free
Distraction in our work environment can lead to loss or break in attention. So, jump on the Do-it-Yourself bandwagon, but this could be the easiest one. Create a space with minimal objects around you, the task is to create a space as boring as possible. Objects around us make us fidget with them or mindlessly just start fixing them. Keep only the things you require around you (water, a notepad, etc), probably sit around a place with minimal noise or wear noise-cancelling headphones to keep your focus. Minimalistic areas help us stay focused on our areas.
Seek professional help
Many times the reason for our short attention span could have an underlying cause as mentioned in the beginning. You may have tried an alternative, but things might not be working out for you. You might be facing time management issues or forgetfulness or maybe even a sense of hopelessness. In such situations, there are psychological platforms that offer professional mental health services.
HappiMynd is one such platform that offers to chat with professionals about your concerns and a self-help library to keep you abreast with relevant information for your issues. There are assessments that can be booked as well, followed by counselling sessions. Knowing the cause of your short attention span will help you learn ways to cope and manage your issues.
There are ample other things you can indulge in, apart from the mentioned hacks. You could meditate, use music to keep you upbeat, plan a day out in nature or use attention improving games. But when the issue feels like a deterrent to your progress and life, seeking professional help can be beneficial.