The attention span can be seen as a tool to improve many traits.
It makes you a better listener, improves your learning capacities, and helps you to work efficiently.
While it seems like a no-brainer that increasing your attention span is desirable, studies have shown that our mind wanders 47% of our waking hours. Not concentrating on the task at hand.
This might not come as a surprise in a world with an increasing amount of distractions.
These distractions come in various forms such as:
- Advertisements everywhere
- Pop-up messages
- New viral videos and other content
Furthermore, social media like Twitter and Instagram follow the principle of endless content.
There is always another picture to look at, another funny meme, another trend to be discovered.
Continuous content flow like that wires our brain to and behaviours not to check social media for anything specific.
Often times, we don’t have a goal, no set piece of information we want to retain from the web.
We just scroll through it for the sake of short-term gratification. And because it’s a habit by now.
All these trends in modern society pose a threat to our attention span.
Therefore, it is important to maintain and exercise this skill.
Not only to improve it, but also to not lose it.
To make sure you are on the right track, I will provide you with 7 ways how you can exercise and practice your attention span.
But before that, let’s take a look at how you should perceive your attention span.
This will help you to develop consciousness towards it in everyday life and keep an eye out for opportunities to practice it.
An outlook on Attention Span
As the attention span itself can be a little bit of an abstract concept, I will use an analogy to simplify the way it functions, and how it is influenced.
To think about it Emerging-Athlete style, try to picture your brain (and therefore your attention span) as a regular muscle.
Just like your biceps or chest.
If you hit the gym and make sure your nutrition is on point, you will gain muscle mass and strength as a reward.
However, achieving this and sticking to your workout routine can sometimes be challenging.
Additionally, to get the best results possible, you have to put in the work.
Going to the gym without progressing in the weights you lift and the reps you do will make you hit a plateau sooner or later.
Swinging back to our initial topic, our attention span works quite similar.
To make sure we reach the longest attention span at any given moment, our body needs to be nurtured and taken care of.
Moreover, increasing the durability of our attention span can be achieved by simply practising it.
This can easily be done each and every day, without taking time off other activities.
One example would be the reading of medium-to-long blog posts just like this one.
As most people try to get to the information they are looking to find as soon and easy as possible, they skip ahead to the conclusion or look for a TLDR.
When you managed to come all the way here without switching to other taps or checking your messages in between, you are well ahead of the curve.
If not, I still have good news for you. It is never too late to start practising and expanding your attention span.
In fact, I am doing it right now, by trying to write this article in one go.
To compliment a challenge of mine with a one for you, try reading this article from start to finish. Without any breaks.
As you can see, it is not hard to find challenges and ways to exercise your attention span.
Once you consciously integrate it in your thought processes, you will notice many ways to act on it.
While it is true that the attention span is easily trained and improved, it still requires effort.
If you find yourself in a spot where you are about to check your messages or log into social media, try to resist that urge.
By resisting, you exercise your ability to keep your focus.
Just like pushing for an additional rep in the gym.
Now that you know how you have to treat your attention span, here are some more challenges that will help you to with focus.
- Having a long conversation without pulling out the phone
- Watch a series or movie without distracting yourself
While these are some great tools to practice in everyday life situations, that is not enough for most people.
That’s why I will provide a list of things you can do to actively increase concentration and attention span.
Meditation is a big one and one that immediately jumps to mind when talking about concentration and attention.
Even though mediation inherits a number of benefits, increasing the time you can concentrate on a single task is definitely one of its main strength.
This is because practically, keeping focus without letting random thoughts take control of your mind is the essence of what you do when meditating.
Activities, like performing a body-scan or trying to listen to nature’s sounds, are concerned with exactly that.
Meditation is always a good idea.
It’s other benefits include:
- Improves immune function
- Decreases pain
- Fights anxiety
- Reduces stress
- Helps your memory
- Makes you better at multitasking
As a matter of fact, I can highly recommend meditation. It improves your life in many different ways.
If you are just starting out with meditation, don’t be discouraged when finding troubles to concentrate.
You won’t enter a new state of mind on your first try.
It takes practice and consistency, similar to increasing your attention span.
However, if you manage to stick to it and do 15-20 minutes each day, you will be rewarded.
The results are worth it!
Another key point of how to increase your attention span are physical activities.
Loaded with health benefits, it’s not surprising to find this one on the list.
That’s why some form of exercising should always be included in anyone’s lifestyle.
On top of shaping your body, it bears many benefits for your brain, too.
As a study from the University of Illinois discovered, exercising improves the amount of control you have over your thoughts.
If you are new to exercising and don’t know where to start, I recommend reading How To Build Muscle.
To ensure you are on top of your game, proper hydration is very important.
Even slight dehydration can cause your cognitive performance to decline.
The danger here is that even though slight dehydration already causes concentration issues, it will not make you thirsty.
That’s why you should make sure your body is always stocked up with water!
For this reason, make sure to at least drink 6-8 cups of water every day.
This needs to be adjusted to the number of sports you do and the climate.
Continuing, an easy way to help increase your attention span is reducing the distractions you are surrounded by.
This mainly refers to the smartphone.
Making sure you don’t unlock your phone every 5 minutes makes you concentrate more on the tasks at hand.
Besides that, it will make you more present in general.
Boosting relationships and charisma.
The best way to tackle your phone addiction is simply not bringing your phone everywhere you are going.
Not having it around will make sure you can engage with friends and family in a natural way.
Additionally, not being available 24/7 reduces stress and increases happiness.
Another great way is to track your phone usage.
Apps like YourHour not only track the time you spent on each app, they can also restrict the amount of time you are allowed to spend on a specific app.
Or regulate the number of times you can unlock your smartphone.
If that’s a little too much for you though, knowing how much time you actually spend on your phone can already be an eye-opener.
Take the right breaks
Instead of continuous distractions in short time-intervals, try to schedule your breaks.
I suggest experimenting a little bit with how frequently you need breaks, and how long they should be.
This is different for everybody!
If you don’t know how to start, try doing 15 minutes of breaks every 40-50 minutes of work.
After that, adjust the duration and frequency and see if you can detect any positive or negative changes in your productivity.
Having fewer, longer breaks benefits you in a number of ways.
It lets you focus entirely on the thing you are doing during your work-periods.
Moreover, it actually resets your brain, giving you a fresh outlook on the tasks you are dealing with while rebooting your concentration.
Making it more useful than distractions, which drain more energy than they provide.
If you want to read in-depth about how long and how often you should take breaks, why breaks are important and beneficial in many ways, and what kind of breaks there are, consider reading this Comprehensive Guide about Taking Breaks.
Reading books requires non-stop concentration and attention.
As there are few things as satisfying as losing yourself in a good book. It might be easier for you to keep up the focus for longer periods of time.
This qualifies reading as an excellent way of improving your attention span.
To make sure you get the most out of reading as possible, I suggest reading for at least 30 minutes without breaks.
While reading for shorter periods is nothing to be coughed at, it will not push your brain to improve in the same way.
Remember the analogy of doing one more rep even though you are already exhausted? This can be perfectly applied to reading.
When you are noticing a shift in your concentration-level, keep on pushing!
Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation causes cognitive abilities to decline.
In order to be on top of your game, you have to make sure your body gets the necessary rest.
Cutting out sleep to increase the amount you get done is not something to consider.
It will make you less productive, less focused, and moody.
In this article about sleep, you will find everything you need to know about it. How much you need, and how you can improve the quality of it.
Conclusion: 7 Practical Tips to Improve Attention Span Instantly
Boosting your attention span will make you more productive, a better listener, and overall only benefit you in many different ways.
- Stay hydrated
- Reduce distractions
- Take the right breaks
Combine these with mindfulness about your attention span throughout the day, and you will see results quickly!
Were you able to read the whole article without distraction?
Do you struggle with keeping up your attention?
Are there ways of practicing this which are not covered by this article?
Leave a comment to engage in the conversation!
Also, take a look at the Start Here Page.
It could be the start of something amazing.
Thanks for reading!