Do you find it difficult to concentrate on what you need to do? You always burn your food when you cook or grab your phone to occupy your mind every time?
We often spend our waking hours thinking about something other than what we should be doing. It’s not always cause for concern, but a short attention span may sometimes be a sign of an underlying serious health condition.
Having a short attention span may cause you to have trouble focusing on timely tasks for an extended time. A short attention span can have several adverse effects, such as poor performance at work or school, inability to complete daily tasks, missing important details or information and even poor communication in relationships. It can also lead to poor health due to neglect of oneself.
According to a research by Indiana University psychologists, a shorter attention span causes shallow information processing while longer attention leads to better memory. Sustained attention is linked to deeper information processing. It is like having a long sleep without being interrupted versus getting several short naps.
Causes of short attention span
Numerous psychological and physical conditions can cause a short attention span. The following are possible causes of a short attention span.
- regularly changing employers
- having repeated relationship problems.
- having periods of hyper focus
- time management problems
- restlessness and anxiety disorganization
Depression is a mood disorder that can severely affect your life. When you persistently feel sad, hopeless, and suicidal, you lose interest in everything. Instead of facing your present tasks, your mind constantly drifts into thoughts of uneasiness. Depression can cause difficulty in paying attention to many things and can cost you your precious time.
You are easily distracted by the multitude of messages and alerts on your phone — the moment you grab your phone, you find it difficult to put it down. Instead, you will scroll endlessly on social media than focus on your current activities. Any attempt to stay focused may prove futile because you feel your everyday tasks are too boring or find yourself something more interesting.
4. Busy schedules
Having so much to do and little time to achieve it can constantly put your mind in a transient state. With so much to do, you find yourself struggling to complete tasks and, most times failing. This is simply because you have too much on your plate. It is better to take on what you can chew; don’t die while trying to get rich.
How to improve your focus
We have identified the likely causes of short attention span. The next question is, how do I improve my focus? You can improve your focus through one or the combination of the practical solutions below:
1. Chew gum
Various studies have shown that chewing gum improves attention and performance at work. It increases alertness and lower stress. However, the effects may not last long because you get tired from chewing gum, but at least it’s one easy way to improve your attention span quickly and a quick fix.
2. Drink water
Staying hydrated is vital for the body and mind. If you are dehydrated, you can easily lose your ability to think and focus. Mild dehydration can also make you lose focus, and you may not even notice. So, always drink water to stay alert and focused but don’t overdo it.
Exercise improves attention and focus, especially in people with ADHD. The benefits of exercise are numerous; it can help improve your attention span immensely. Try taking short walks for 30 minutes a day regularly. By constantly doing this routine, you might begin to notice and observe changes in your memory and everyday life.
Train your mind to focus by redirecting your thoughts. You can develop several beneficial habits, such as a positive outlook and self-discipline, by meditating. You can achieve this when listening to music or in your quiet time. The goal is to make sure you aren’t distracted in the process.
5. Go to therapy
Visiting a certified therapist can help identify and change unhealthy or self-destructive behaviours. Behavioural therapy is also an effective way to treat inattention in people with ADHD. If you frequently have trouble focusing or your short attention span interferes with your ability to perform daily tasks.
6. Reduce distractions
Turn off anything that does not have to do with your current task, email, texts and everything. Make it your routine habit to focus your time. Disconnect your WiFi, put your phone on airplane mode, uninstall that dubious media app and whatever. You can maintain a daily planner or work calendar to focus more on your tasks.
7. Practicing active listening
Another way you can hone your attention span is to practice active listening. It helps to focus the mind’s ability to receive and absorb information. Active listening helps you pay attention to the speaker and understand what they’re saying before responding—practice listening by staying still without interrupting. The results may be evident in your improved ability to listen to your boss, clients or coworkers.
8. Take breaks
As the body needs some rest and recovery, your mind also needs a break. It is crucial to allow your mind to regain its strength, clarity, and focus. Incorporate breaks into each workday to allow you the opportunity of putting your mind and attention span to rest.
9. Read more
You develop your mind’s ability to concentrate through attentive reading. A daily routine of 20 to 30 minutes of reading during your breaks can help you practice blocking out distractions such as phone notifications. Train yourself to read regularly; you can start by subscribing to our weekly newsletter below.