How long is your attention span?
I have recently noticed that my ability to mentally concentrate on one activity is dwindling down. I guess we notice this in our daily lives. We wait for the traffic light with a smartphone in hand, wait at the cashier line with a smartphone in hand and heck you might be even reading this in your bathroom. On the outset, it may seem that I am more productive reading and learning new things. I question myself sometimes, when does it become unhealthy? What have I learned from all of the new input I get everyday?
Apparently, we now have a shorter attention span than a gold fish. The gold fish can concentrate for 9 seconds and we come in after the gold fish at 8 seconds. So this is thanks to the internet attention span, or how our brains have adapted to the digitized world. I think at times, how long should articles be as some readers might not even make it to the end. I may have lost some readers at this point, so I will be brief.
The ultra fast 1 minute cooking “show”
All over Facebook, you would be familiar with the ultra fast cooking tips on how to cook every imaginable dish. The video is in fast forward. Put the fish in the skillet, add garlic, add salt and put in aluminium foil. Before your eyes even blink for the 2nd time, your dish is ready. The first thought that comes in mind is, seems easy enough for me. On second thought, I have been watching many videos like this. I have not begun cooking even one the hundreds of videos that I have watched. My point is, do you actually learn to cook or are you just being entertained?
If you have not been trying to cook, are you an internet attention span victim? I understand the purpose of the ultra fast cooking is to cater for the internet attention span and possibly to inspire you to cook. However, circling back to my point. Has the video inspired you to cook anything new?
Reflect on the action we take
We are bombarded by new information everyday. Try to reflect on how much action we take based on the input we receive. In this age of information, we have unlimited knowledge available. I believe we can learn something new each day and we should evaluate how much information is consumed.
We should consume less information and take more action.
Focus on one task
Multi tasking is the name of the game these days. However, Professor Emily Elliott’s research has shown that human multi tasking reduces productivity and increases rate of errors. My take is that we should focus on one task. Human multi tasking is basically continuous partial attention at best. Yes, you can read that again – continuous partial attention or as I call it, the internet attention span. Switching from one task to another but performing poorly at both tasks. Therefore, this leads to the next point.
Put the smartphone away
Okay, this may sound drastic but I am not asking you to throw your smartphone. Put your smartphone away for a short period of time. Smart small. I worked my way from 10 minutes, 30 minutes and 1 hour etc. I did this myself and I felt my ability to concentrate increase. After a couple of days of practice, I felt entirely different.
In summary, I guess we could win over the gold fish in attention span by creating a gold fish smartphone or otherwise we could just leave the phone aside for 1 hour at a time. Beat the “internet attention span.”