Sure we would all like a longer attention span, you can feel quite disappointed in yourself if you’ve missed something important or messed something up because you lost your concentration. Fear not however, it appears there are some methods to strengthening your attention span leaving you with a strong mind. Research has shown time and again that individuals who can sustain their attention for long periods of time perform better on a large range of cognitive challenges than those who cannot.
“A man with a scatter-shot attention span will only be able to experience one plane of existence; he can skim across the surface of the world’s vast knowledge and wisdom, but is unable to dive deeper and discover the treasures below. The man with an iron-clad focus can do both; he is the boat captain and the pearl diver and the world is truly his oyster”.
As is the way with the digital world, with access to more and more information people are always looking for shortcut secrets thinking these will help them build their body or their mind. Perhaps to distract themselves from the truth, or perhaps they are really just that naive – either way the truth has always remained the same. Strengthening our physical or mental muscles comes down to work, work and a little more work. In order to get better at anything you must practice it and this is no different for your attention span. Here are 3 exercises to try:
1. Exercise your body:
Hold on a second, I thought this was about the mind? In fact exercising the body has actually been proven to benefit the mind. The research found that those participants that engaged in moderate physical exercises before taking a test recorded a stronger attention span than those who didn’t exercise. Although the researchers can’t say exactly why, they found that exercise primarily helps our brain’s ability to ignore distractions.
2. Build your focus strength up gradually:
Just as you would if you were trying to get body fit, when it comes to getting mind fit it is best not to dive in the deep end; take it step by step. Jumping in the deep end will only leave you discouraged and potentially even injured, and one thing is for sure you will quit before you get properly started. The Pomodoro Method exercises your focus but it is quite advanced, starting with 45 minutes of straight work before you are allowed to have a break. We recommend starting small, seeing if you can go 5 minutes just focussing on your work followed by a 1-2 minute break, and then each day gradually increase your focusing time and your break time.
3. Practice mindfulness:
What on earth is mindfulness? Simply mindfulness is focusing only on what you are doing, at that time. Not thinking ahead to what you are having for dinner later, what you are going to do after your mindfulness practice or anything else – try to focus on the here and now. Great times to practice mindfulness are when you are performing a task such as eating for example or shaving. Concentrate on the flavours and textures of your food, take in the aroma of your shaving products and your beard oil as you perform your daily grooming routine. Yoga can be a great way to stretch your muscles and practice mindfulness at the same time.
One thing is for sure, incorporating short sessions of mindfulness throughout your day will strengthen and expand your attention span for the times when you really need it.