Are you carrying out your own version of Pavlov's experiment; instead of bells, it's the ding of your phone, or the ping of your email that is diverting your attention? Are you giving your employer the full hours of work you are being paid for? Are your children, your spouse, your friends, second-string to your technology when it comes to your attention?
Does your dog have a better attention span than you do?
I was in the living room when I told Holly, our dog, to go see my husband. To get to him in the office, she had to travel through the living room, dining room, kitchen and hallway. She did it without stopping to see if something had fallen off the dining room table, nor did she feel the need to "vacuum" the kitchen floor, or go to find her ball. She went directly to where she was supposed to go, doing what was asked of her.
Now, how about you? Would you be able to carry out your day's directive with such focus? Is your ability to focus fading due to the sexy (if you say so) allure of your cell phone?
According to StatisticBrain.com, attention spans have shortened to 8 seconds in 2013 from 12 seconds in 2000. At 9 seconds, even goldfish have longer attention spans. If the trend continues at the same rate, by 2026, humans will have an attention span of only 4 seconds. I find this alarming. Education, relationships, work - it is all impacted by the flightiness of your attention.
Five things you can do to improve your focus
If you are becoming antsy, agitated, frustrated or feel as if you can't cope without checking your device, you may have nomophobia - the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. Stress techniques can help you lessen that Pavlovian response.
- Notice how often you are being interrupted by those dings and pings. If you aren't aware of your electronics habit, you can't change it.
- Establish Electronics "NoGoZones".
- When your spouse, friends or children are talking with you, resist the urge to check incoming texts and messages. Create guidelines for yourself.
- Devote your full attention to a project - determine how long you want to work on it. Notice if this makes you feel uncomfortable. Remember, that's powerful information, because if it does, you may have a problem.
- When you spend time doing heart-centred techniques, you operate from a different part of the brain - the prefrontal cortex (PFC), otherwise known as the brain's CEO. So rather than reacting, you become more focused in your thinking. You make better decisions, wiser choices, while remaining balanced. Check out my 31 Days of Stress, Undressed blogging project for more information.
Finally, a taste of humour along with a powerful message: