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Last Updated on November 18, 2020

Have a Short Attention Span? 15 Ways to Improve It

Have a Short Attention Span? 15 Ways to Improve It

Technology has done wonders for society. Healthcare, transportation, and communication have also improved dramatically in recent years. However, it’s undeniable that the fast-paced, convenience-oriented mindset of modern society has given rise to more people with a short attention span.

Some signs of a short attention span include:

  • Missing important details
  • Difficulty communicating with others
  • Not listening during meetings and lectures
  • Getting easily distracted
  • Inability to follow through with tasks

In some rarer cases, short attention spans are caused by medical conditions such as ADHD.[1] More commonly, it’s a lack of focus derived from the modern world trying to pry our attention away at every waking moment.

If any of these signs are a common occurrence in your life, you might need to tighten that attention span of yours in the long term. These 15 ways can help you improve your focus so you can better seize every moment.

1. Curb Your Screen Time

It’s already been determined that electronics are causing many to lose focus. The easy access to social media sites, online videos, and endless web pages can spin our minds in constant circles. There is almost too much information and entertainment for us to handle.

Have you ever been sidetracked by a simple Facebook notification? To get your screen time under control, take your cue from kids’ phones.[2] Delete social media apps and games from your phone, and stick to texting and calling.

2. Remove Distractions

Your mobile device won’t be the only thing calling for your attention. Any number of distractions can squeeze your attention. Figure out what they are, and you can work on removing them.

Even minor distractions, such as background noise or a room that’s too hot or cold can make you fidgety and cause you to lose focus. Items cluttering your desk and workspace can cause anxiety and divert your attention even for just a second, which is just enough to break your rhythm.

For more on how to get into deep work and focus, check out the following video:

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3. Take Notes

If you find yourself in a particularly boring meeting or classroom environment, you may as well be begging for something to distract you. This attitude carries over to even the most important of meetings, where you could miss vital information.

To change this mindset, start taking notes. This activity demands your focus, which will help with that short attention span. Taking notes also improves memory, helps your brain recall specifics, and provides physical reminders for those important details you need to keep handy.

Furthermore, research has shown that “students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand,” so when taking notes, use a pen and paper instead of your device[3]

4. Drink More Water

Staying hydrated is of utmost importance to your physical health. It also helps you combat a short attention span. Dehydration eats away at your focus and ability to think. Even the slightest amount of dehydration can make a significant difference.

Make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. The key is drinking consistently, not just guzzling an entire bottle right before you need to focus. Develop a habit and you’ll never have to worry about dehydration getting in your way.

5. Get Some Exercise

Exercise is beneficial in so many ways. Taking care of your body helps you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Helping improve your focus and short attention span are some of the many benefits of regular physical activity[4].

There’s no need to add hours of rigorous activity to your schedule. If you’re just getting into the exercise game, an e-bike might be just the boost you need. Even a short walk can get your blood moving and brain activated. Outdoor exercise is especially beneficial, as the sunshine and sights of nature do wonders for your brain and psyche.

6. Try Meditating

The complete opposite of exercise is doing nothing. Meditation isn’t sitting there idle—it’s an alternate way to try and regain your focus and spend time focusing on the present. It involves a series of short steps to calm you down, increasing your attention span.

Most forms of meditation require a calm atmosphere coupled with breathing exercises. The extra oxygen stimulates your brain, and the cadence of breaths helps you to relax and reclaim your mind.

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On a particularly difficult day, give meditation a try. Find a private place, turn on some calming sounds, and enjoy the peace your brain deserves.

7. Take a Break

When it all gets to be too much, give yourself a much-deserved break. While meditation is a conscious effort to regain focus, stepping back to just get away for a few moments can also work wonders.

If your focus keeps getting drawn elsewhere, take some time to address it before returning to your original task. Whether it be a five-minute break for fresh air or a three-day weekend in the woods, giving yourself a “brain break” can help you regroup and buckle down on your goals.

8. Chew Gum

It’s odd but it’s true: Chewing gum can help you focus.[5] While it doesn’t have any magical properties, this simple activity can keep you engaged long enough to carry out an activity without getting too distracted.

Ever popped in a piece of gum to stay awake on the road? The same goes for focusing at work. If you find your mind slipping during the workday, try a piece of gum. This could be the push you need to dig in and complete a difficult task or make it to the end of the day.

9. Stop Multitasking

A lot of people pride themselves in their ability to multitask. While this is a valuable skill, constantly dividing your attention between several tasks can worsen a short attention span.

When you feel yourself starting to slip, stop multitasking for a moment. Force yourself to slow down and focus. Some days, you’re just not going to have the attention span to tackle multiple projects effectively at the same time. It’s OK in those moments to take one task at a time.

10. Get Enough Sleep

When you’re sleep-deprived, your brain is at its wit’s end. It’s incredibly hard to focus on something when all your mind and body want to do is sleep. To improve your attention span, make sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep every night.

Develop a consistent sleep schedule that helps you get to bed at a decent time each night. This will help you stay well-rested each day. Too little sleep stretches you thin, while too much can make you feel groggy and sluggish. Both are extremes that you’ll want to avoid.

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You can read more about the importance of sleep and its effects on productivity here.

11. Turn the Music Up

Music can be distracting for some, but for others, it allows them to focus better. A good playlist can act as a pair of blinders, filling your mind so that distractions can’t get in your way.

The best kind of music for your attention span is instrumental. Lyrics can crowd your thoughts and compete for your attention span. Calm genres, such as classical, are better than upbeat ones that can work you up too much when you need to buckle down and focus.

12. Practice Active Listening

While this is more of a soft skill than the others on this list, being able to listen is an underrated practice. Too often people think about what to say next instead of listening to what is being said to them.

Failure to listen is a classic sign of a short attention span. The next time you engage in a conversation, practice listening intently to every word that’s said. This will lead to healthier dialogue and help you improve that attention span by keeping you grounded to the present.

13. Experiment With Timeboxing

Timeboxing is a time management method used by many business professionals.[6] It involves blocking off a section of time to dedicate to a specific activity.

When the block starts, all you worry about is what you have scheduled for that time. When the block ends, you move on to the next time block[7]. You can even set a timer if that helps. 

Try timeboxing to help a short attention span

    This method can help you maintain focus throughout your day. Use it wisely, and you’ll be able to control your attention span and maximize your productivity.

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    14. Try Intermittent Fasting

    Periodic fasting is a practice embraced by many world religions. While it has its spiritual connotations, it’s also a recognized method to help with weight loss, cleansing, and yes—increased focus.

    Fasting should be done smartly. Don’t go without food for too long or too often—you still need that energy to properly function. Balance your intermittent fasting, and those periods of time can help you clear your mind and take hold of your attention span.

    15. Play Some Brain Games

    Your brain is a muscle—if you want to strengthen it, you need to use it in different ways. If your goal is to improve your attention span, you can play some brain games that are built to help with that.

    Rather than mind-numbing video games, look for puzzles and activities that help improve your focus and attention[8]. Simple exercises, such as math, patterns, and memorization, don’t take much time, but repetition can really make a difference.

    Final Thoughts

    If having a short attention span is negatively affecting your work, mental health, and personal life, it’s time to change it. Following these 15 tips will help you improve your focus and attention span.

    Tackle your focus issues one day at a time for the short term. Patience and practice are all it takes to build a longer, more durable attention span.

    More on Improving Your Focus

    Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    John Hall

    John Hall is the co-founder and president of Calendar, a leading scheduling and productivity app that will change how we manage and invest our time.

    Have a Short Attention Span? 15 Ways to Improve It How to Master Delayed Gratification to Control Your Impulses The Ultimate List of Deep Focus Music for Productive Work How to Complete Any Task in the Most Time Efficient Manner 8 Reasons Why You Have Trouble Concentrating

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    Last Updated on November 16, 2020

    10 Good Habits to Have in Life to Be More Successful

    10 Good Habits to Have in Life to Be More Successful

    Habits are behaviors and patterns that you showcase by default. Many good habits to have will enable you to carry out crucial activities like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and getting ready for work. 

    Interestingly, you follow this routine every day without thinking twice. Your unconscious daily habits create room for your brain to perform more advanced activities like problem-solving and choosing what book to read.

    Everyone has habits, and several of those habits are activated every day. I would classify them into three groups:

    • Habits that you hardly notice as they have become a major part of your life, such as brushing teeth or getting dressed.
    • Good habits to have to be more successful, like eating healthy, exercising, and reading books.
    • Habits that are harmful, like procrastinating, smoking, or overeating.

    Good habits are fundamental to becoming successful in life. Yet, as significant as habits are, some lack the knowledge of their capabilities.

    While much of the emphasis falls on bad habits to break, it’s just as important to focus on good habits to have and cultivate in your daily routine.

    Here, we’ll talk about 10 good habits to have to be more successful in life.

    1. Begin Your Day with Meditation

    I recommend mindful meditation early in the morning. This practice helps you to place yourself in the present moment. Consequently, it enables you to be mindful of challenging situations during the day.

    Different stressors may trigger as you go through the day; meditation helps you to remain calm before taking on the challenges.

    Personally, it helps me to devise strategies and think about ideas. Meditation is a good habit to have if you want to be connected to what’s significant in your life.

    2. Be Grateful for What You Have

    It’s not uncommon to waste time thinking of what’s not enough. You become immersed in those daunting challenges. However, challenges justify the presence of hope. The only strategy you have to stop focusing on your problems is to focus on what you have.

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    Gratitude is a time-tested pathway to success, health, and happiness. It redirects your focus to what you have from what you lack. Try writing a list of things you’re grateful for each day in a gratitude journal, or make it a habit to say one thing you’re grateful for when you sit down to dinner with your family.

    3. Smile

    Can you pause and smile before you continue reading this?

    Now, here is what just happened based on research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science; you set a pace for living a happier life when you smile. A genuine smile, or what’s called a Duchenne smile, is a good habit to have if you want to find spiritual, emotional, and mental peace of mind.[1]

    Smiling induces the release of molecules that function towards fighting stress. The physiological state of your body determines the state of your mind. When you slouch or frown, your mind takes cues relating to unhappiness and depression. However, once you adjust yourself by putting on a smile, you begin to feel a new level of excitement and vibrancy.

    4. Start Your Day With a Healthy Breakfast

    Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is a good habit to have and forms a crucial part of your life. Nevertheless, about 31 million Americans skip their breakfast each day.[2]

    If you are fed up hearing that breakfast is a crucial component of your day, you are only fighting the truth. If you want to become more successful, you need to “break your fast” with healthy foods every morning.

    This habit is not difficult to form if you usually rush out the door every single morning. You can wake up earlier to fix yourself a meal so you don’t break down during the day.

    Get inspired by these 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.

    5. Exercise Daily

    One of the good habits to have is to exercise your body and muscles on a daily basis. You don’t have to run a marathon or lift tons of weights. You only need to engage in activities that oxygenate your blood and inject endorphins in your body, trying to squeeze in at least 15 minutes every day.

    Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, classified exercise as a good habit to maximize his already jam-packed schedule.[3] He said:

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    “I wake up by 5, meditate for 30 minutes, seven-minute workout times three, make coffee, and check-in.”

    He said on Product Hunt that he follows this routine every day as it gives him a steady-state that empowers him to be more productive.

    6. Manage Your Time

    Another good habit is the act of managing your time effectively. This goes a long way toward impacting your achievement.

    Time management is what separates the successful from the rest of the world as we all possess the same amount of time. How you leverage time determines your potential to succeed in life[4].

    Good habits to have: Time management tips

      So how do you manage your time effectively?

      Here’s Jack Dorsey’s recommendation in one of the Techonomy events:

      “I accomplish effective time management by theming my days and practicing self-discipline. These themes help me handle distractions and interactions. If a request or task does not align with the theme for that day, I don’t do it. This sets a cadence for everyone in the company to deliver and evaluate their progress”.

      And this is Dorsey’s weekly theme layout:[5]

      • Monday – Management
      • Tuesday – Product
      • Wednesday – Marketing and growth
      • Thursdays – Developers and partnerships
      • Fridays – Culture and recruiting
      • Saturdays – Taking off
      • Sundays – Reflection, feedback, strategy, and preparing for Monday

      No wonder he was able to run two companies when others were struggling with one job.

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      7. Set Daily Goals With Intentions

      Everyone has goals, whether they relate to business or personal life. The truth is, we’re all tending towards a particular direction. Nevertheless, while long-term goals can offer you direction, it’s your daily goals that help you develop short-term goals that are essential for your success.

      Long-term goals may not give you the motivation you need to keep on, but when you implement your short-term milestones daily, you become fired up, and you can overcome the challenges that come with taking on bigger tasks.

      Here’s the main truth: Successful people don’t set goals without establishing their intentions. According to Jennifer Cohen of Forbes,[6]

      “What helps you to achieve your desired expectation is ensuring intentions accompany your daily goals.”

      8. Seek Inspiration

      It is usually difficult to be inspired for a considerable length of time. Sometimes, you become discouraged and feel like giving up on your goals when things are not working out as intended.

      A practical approach to stay on top of the situation is to inspire yourself each day. When you wake up in the morning (after meditation), watch some motivational videos, and let the story of great leaders inspire you.

      Establish what Anthony Robbins called the “hour of power.” Determine how many minutes you spend, but make it count. Inspiration is the fuel for achievement because when you can conceive it in your mind, you can accomplish it.

      Michal Solowow, an investor and the founder of Mitex, puts it this way[7]:

      “The problems I encounter in everyday life motivate me to find solutions. This is a self-propelling mechanism. Becoming a billionaire was never a motivating factor.”

      9. Save Steadily, Invest With All Prudence

      I can’t exhaust the good habits to have without talking about saving and investing. Most times, you overlook the significance of saving for the future when you are living in your present moment. According to CNBC, a $1000 emergency will propel several Americans into debt.[8]

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      However, it is not enough to save, and you must invest your funds and be wise with them. If you pay attention to this now, you will set yourself up for a life of success in the future. Ensure you save at least six months in your emergency account so you can be prepared for any future emergency.

      If you’re looking for a simple way to save money, check out the following video:

      10. Budget and Track Your Spending

      Benjamin Franklin warned of taking the precaution of little expenses. He said:

      “A small leak sinks a great ship.”

      It is easy to discard little expenses, but the truth is they always add up. This happens when you fail to budget.

      Budgeting is a good habit to have, and it can impact your financial life significantly. The money you spend on extravagant lifestyles can be saved and invested in your future instead.

      The Bottom Line

      Endeavor to start developing good habits to have to become more successful as you journey through life. The quicker you cultivate them, the faster you will achieve your goals.

      More About Cultivating Good Habits

      Featured photo credit: Andrijana Bozic via unsplash.com

      Reference

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