From one to ten, how would you rate your attention?
Can you control your attention and fix it on one thought, task or activity for a few minutes without getting distracted?
For example, can you read this article, or any other article, word after word, without skipping parts of it or just scanning it with your eyes? You might find it a tough thing to do.
A number of factors might prevent you reading the article from start to end. You might find the article boring, the fonts might be too small for you to read, or you might lose your patience. Other thoughts might attract your attention, as well as noises, physical sensations, or the people around you might disturb you.
There is another factor that is probably sabotaging your ability to control your attention and fix it where you want, and that is your smartphone. It seems that nowadays, the smartphone is the number one reason for lack of focus, concentration and attention.
We all look at the small screen many hours a day. It is not that we fix our attention on it as an act of willpower or self-discipline. It is more like an addiction or a difficult to break habit.
The smartphone has become as if a part of the body and the mind, or an extension of it. It sometimes replaces our common sense, imagination, the ability to make decisions, and the thinking process. It even replaces real people and the real world.
The smartphone offers us all the knowledge and the information we want. However, since the mind cannot grasp and digest all the tons of information, we have learned to scan a page instead of read it. We have taught our attention to move swiftly from one thing to another without our control.
Unknowingly, we weaken our focus and our ability to control our attention. However, if we wish to achieve success and improve our life we need to learn how to increase our attention.
There are other factors, besides the smartphone, which weaken our ability to control our attention. Noises, disturbances, people, things we want to do, thoughts, worries and stress, are just a few of the factors that shorten our attention span and weaken our ability to control our mind.
Do you really need to increase your attention? Is it worth the time and the effort?
Your intuition and common sense might tell you that you need to learn how to increase your attention and put it under your control. However, something in you might resist this control and tell you that it is not possible, or that you are satisfied with things as they are.
You might unconsciously avoid learning how to increase your attention, because it involves some effort on your part, and because you are afraid that you might need to forgo some unimportant habits or desires.
Why Increasing Your Attention Would Help You Achieve Success
Being able to pay attention means focus and concentration. These are skills that everyone needs. They are essential for success in every area of life, success at school, success at work and in one’s job, and success with baking a cake, meditation or self-improvement. These are important skills for becoming a good doctor, a good driver, a good pilot, or achieving success in sport.
Here are 10 reasons why you need to consider improving your attention span and your ability to focus on what you are doing.
1. While working, do you look at your smartphone every few moments, to read messages that your friends posted on Facebook or WhatsApp? How can you focus on your work when your attention often goes to the small screen? You will certainly make mistakes, misplace documents, or not hear what your boss, colleagues or customers say.
2. What happens at school? Again, the attention is hard to control, and you might not listen to the teacher and if he or she asks you a question, you will not know what the question was, because you did not listen. Even children at school can learn to increase their attention span.
3. Is your attention easily distracted when driving your car? This could be dangerous. Thinking and worrying about other matters, speaking on the phone or texting, could lead to disaster. You need to focus on the driving, especially in crowded streets, dangerous roads and on the highway.
4. When cooking or baking, you need to focus on what you are doing, otherwise you might forget one or more of the ingredients, or burn what you are cooking or baking.
5. Youngsters often study with full volume music and with their attention constantly going to their smartphone. How can they prepare their homework or study for their exams in such an environment?
When it comes to homework, you will do them better and faster, if you could focus your complete attention on them, without listening to music, talking on the phone, or playing with your computer or smartphone.
6. Athletes, too, need to learn to increase their attention, so that they excel in what they are doing. Swimming, running, playing football or basketball, bodybuilding, and any other kind of sport require full attention for better and faster results.
7. A doctor needs to focus on his or her patients in order to come to a right diagnosis, help them, and give them the right advice.
8. Focus and control of the attention are indispensable for pilots and drivers, for engineers and builders, as well as for mathematicians, writers, clerks and tailors, and in many other professions. In every job and profession, you need to pay attention to what you are doing, so as not to make mistakes, and consequently, waste time energy and money.
9. A worker in a factory, especially when using any kind of machinery, needs attention and focus, otherwise he might be risking himself.
10. Any task or chore becomes easier to carry out when fix your mind on it, whether at home, at work or anywhere else.
In fact, everyone needs to be able to control his or her attention, in every area of life. However, it seems that this ability not well developed in most cases.
Just think how much time, effort and money you can save, if you could increase your attention and fix it on your actions.
Just think, how efficient you can be, and how many mistakes and errors you can avoid, if you pay more attention to whatever you are doing.
Multitasking and the Attention Span
Multitasking might seem a useful skill. However, with multitasking you hardly focus on what you are doing since your attention moves fast for one thing to another without any sustained focus and attention.
If you read about the lives of people you reached far in their career, in every area of life, in business, politics, sports or meditation, you will discover that focus played an important role in their lives.
Nowadays, it seems that the attention span of most people is getting shorter and shorter. It is more noticeable with the young generation, mainly due the overload of information, and the absorption in the Internet, social media, computers and the smartphone.
Increasing Your Attention Would Help You Achieve Success
Who will be the leaders of the future? Those people that invest in learning to control their attention, increase their attention span, and learn to focus their mind. These people can start and finish tasks. They can use their mind and imagination efficiently and learn new things. They possess the mental discipline necessary for following their dreams and achieving their goals.
In order to be successful you need to focus and direct your thoughts toward your goal, and not let your mind get constantly distracted. This holds true in business, in sports, in literature, in medicine, and in every profession, in meditation and self-improvement, and in any other area.
This of course, requires that you start increasing your attention ability.
Increasing and controlling of the attention is not the only skill you need for improving your life, carrying out tasks efficiently, and achieving success. There are other skills too, such as self-discipline, willpower, motivation and a calm mind, which contribute to success, but attention is one of the important ones.
Exercise to Help You Increase Your Attention
Before you finish reading this article, and I hope you arrived to this part of the article, I would like to suggest a simple exercise that will help you increase your attention.
Once a day, for just 15 minutes, mute your smartphone and put it aside, in your pocket, purse or drawer, so you do not look at it. During these 15 minutes, try to pay full attention to what you are doing.
If you are at work, focus completely on your work. If you are reading, immerse yourself completely in the book. If you are cooking or cleaning, do just that for the next 15 minutes, without watching TV or listening to music.
If you are talking to a friend, fix your complete attention on the conversation, and if you are eating, doing homework, or watching TV, just do that only, as if this is the only thing the exists.
Practice this exercise every day, for at least 10 days. If you persevere, you will gain several things:
- Your focus and control of your attention would improve.
- Your willpower and self-discipline would increase.
- You will discover that life goes on, even if you do not look at your smartphone.
If you wish to further increase your ability to control your attention and improve your focus, I suggest that you practice a few more exercises, which you can find in my book, How to Focus Your Mind.
You will find in this book, which you can download to your smartphone or computer, plenty of advice and guidance, as well as exercises to improve your focus and strengthen your attention. Even if you practice just a few exercises, you will see noticeable improvement.
(Archery target illustration on top of page by Quince Media)