Attention Span

Has the Average Attention Span Dropped Down?

Attention Span

How long is your attention span?

It seems to me that there is a sharp drop in the average attention span of most people, especially children and young people. Did you notice that?

This sharp drop in the average attention span started a few years back, and it is getting momentum. The main reason for this are the internet, computers, smartphones and the social networks.

There is an information overload, which is constantly growing, and is difficult to handle. If once, when you needed information, you opened a book or a dictionary. Now, there are countless number of sources available.

In this situation, you cannot read or study all the information presented, and therefore, you examine it fast and superficially. This means that most people scan through the information, and go from one source of information to another. This is the opposite of focus, and contributes to a lack of focus and to shortening of the attention span.

You cannot focus on any anything, if you have a lot of mail, messages or phone calls. You will need to be superficial and fast, if you constantly need to read and post on Facebook, Whatsapp, and other social networks.

This situation disrupts focus, makes people impatience, less efficient and more superficial. It also creates nervousness and tension.

According to Wikipedia:
The attention span is the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted. Most educators and psychologists agree that the ability to focus attention on a task is crucial for the achievement of one’s goals.

The mind cannot think of more that one thing at a time, and this means a constant shift of attention, teaching the mind to be restless and unfocused.

The mind wants to protect itself against this avalanche of information and tasks. It cannot handle it, and therefore, learns to move fast from one subject to another. This, of course, produces shallowness and superficiality.

Due to the overload of information, people jump from one task to another, without paying much attention to what they are doing. They feel the need to read their text messages, reply, post statuses, check email, chat, surf and more, immediately.

There is always something that attracts or distracts the attention, which seems, at the moment, to be very important.

All this makes the average attention span drop down considerably. It makes the mind lose its power to focus on one task. This disturbs the ability to learn, study, and assimilate knowledge.

Trying to do many things at the same time is called multitasking. In multitasking, you do not focus on one thing. Your mind constantly shifts from one thing to another. This is not an efficient use of your energy and time. You achieve more and better things, when you focus on one thing until you achieve it.

I talked with a few young people, and discovered that they are always in a state of tension. There is impatience and the desire to get everything instantaneously, otherwise they either get frustrated, or move immediately to something else. They have no patience to invest in projects that require time, effort and training.

You can gain nothing of importance instantaneously, unless you are some kind of superman or superwoman. The good and important things require time and effort to grow and bear fruit. Self improvement, spiritual growth and advancement in any area require patience and sustained effort.

Being glued to your computer or smartphone, and living in a digital world, as most people live today, won’t make you get good grades at school, learn a new language, strengthen your muscles, lose weight, build a business, learn to meditate, or improve your concentration or self-discipline.

Lack of focus doesn’t help in the real world. Scanning an article or book, instead of reading it, you miss a lot of useful information. It also teaches your mind not to focus.

How about doing a few simple exercises, now and then, to strengthen your attention span and improve your self discipline, concentration and patience? Here are a few examples:

  1. Wait a few minutes, before posting on Facebook, Whatsapp or replying to an email message.
  2. Switch off your phone for thirty minutes every day.
  3. Once a day, focus on one task, until you complete it.
  4. Once a day, read an article from the beginning to the end.
  5.  Once in a while, take away your gaze from the screen of your phone, and look at the world around you. Become aware of the world, of the people, sounds and smells.

Can you do this?
Will you lose by practicing these exercises? No, you won’t.

Are the text messages and what your friends write on Facebook, Twitter or the other social networks a matter of life and death, or are they about insignificant matters that you will forget in a few moments?

Always ask yourself, who is the master of your mind, you, or your friends, your messages, your phone or the Internet.

Practice the above mentioned exercises, and you will start to gain more control over your attention span.

There is a book about concentration and focus, which can help you gain control over your mind and your attention. It is called ‘How to Focus Your Mind’. This book includes working advice and simple exercises, which make a great difference in your life. These exercises are a must in todays’ life, when lack of focus is becoming the standard.

You can read this book on the screen of your computer or print it out if you wish. You can also carry it with you, on your smartphone or tablet.

For more information, please click here.

is the founder of Success Consciousness. He is the author of articles and books, teaching how to use one’s mental tools and inner powers to create a life of happiness, success, fulfillment and inner peace.

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