Imagine yourself working in your office. You are required to focus on the analysis report in your hand, but there is any number of thoughts going through your mind. You are frustrated at your mind for not functioning properly. But then again, there are “thoughts” in your mind. Isn’t “thinking” a part of the job for a human mind? You see the dilemma here?
It is true that wandering in the thoughts of past, present, and the future is the inherent nature of the human brain. You don’t want it to stop thinking, but having control over what goes through your mind and when does it have the specific thoughts, is an idea that you would most likely be interested in. In all honesty, your mind is like a child who is being forced to focus on his homework and anything from a ringing phone to a cat’s meow in the garage is sufficient to distract him. But like everything else in our body, the human mind can also be trained. There are exercises which help a great deal in cultivating the attention span on things that actually matter and getting rid of unnecessary thoughts on the queue.
Having a longer attention span in this time and age is a conspicuous quality that is even worth putting on your resume. Being over-reliant on the technology and getting easily distracted by just the screen of your smartphone lighting up when it’s on silent, the attention span of the human kind is reducing exponentially over time. As per a report, an average adult in the year 2019 has lost the ability to focus on the given task for more than twenty minutes straight. Considering the gravity of the situation, you can imagine your prospects if you are someone who has a laser-sharp focus that lasts longer.
This is exactly what we see for you in the future. From a bunch of exercises, practices, tips, and tricks that you can find on the internet to increase your attention span, we have extracted just four that are tried and tested in producing better, reliable, and efficient results. Remember, what we are going to tell you is not a hack that will immediately rebuild your focus overnight. It is a scientifically proven way of improving your attention span, slowly, over time. We would like to be upfront with you. There is no shortcut. It will need effort, practice, and consistency for you to maximize your performance by sharpening your focus and keeping it under control.
Without further ado, let’s walk you through the top 4 exercises that will help you strengthen your attention span.
- Meditation and Mindfulness
In a world where people feel very strongly about lifting weights and following strict diets, the majority of us have forgotten about a practice that has been around for years and has been just as effective in training your mind as physical exercise is for building muscles. Meditation and mindfulness work by collecting your scattered thoughts and bringing them all together on a single event that is happening in the present. For instance, in mindful breathing, you are required to sit in a comfortable chair in a peaceful environment. Maintain an upright pose and slowly shift your focus on breathing. Focus on the coolness of air that fills your body as you slowly inhale through your nostrils. Keep the air in for a few seconds and then get a sense of it slowly moving out through your mouth and your body coming back to the resting state. Similarly, in mindful listening, the point of focus is a peaceful sound such as a soothing symphony. The concept here is to feel the sensory experience. It is common for the mind to try and wander during the exercise. If you experience that, it is recommended to be gentle in slowly bringing the focus back to breathing, the sound, a visual, depending on the kind of meditation exercises you have opted for. Meditating for a few minutes with consistency is known to be highly effective for distracted people in strengthening their attention span.
- Focus On The Movement Of Your Hands
Remember that the whole reason why you are distracted is that your mind fails to focus on a single event or an object. Logically speaking, a simple cure, therefore, should be to sensitize your brain to keep its focus on a single thing for a longer period of time. For this purpose, a common exercise known as the body scan can help a great deal. Mental exercises are different from physical activities since they are practiced better in isolation, away from the noise, and in a peaceful environment. The body scan is not so different in this regard either. Once you are in such an environment, take a comfortable pose and start by focusing on your breath as mentioned in the first exercise. Now clench both the fists of your hands tightly. Put them in front of you and lock your eyes on the fists. Now slowly start to release your fists and relax your muscles. Continue until your fists are completely stretched. Now slowly start to clench them again. As mentioned earlier, the idea here is to focus on the sensory experience again. By giving all of your attention to the movement of your fists, it gets easier for you to remove the disturbing thoughts out of your mind. Once these thoughts fade away, the mental capacity to focus is enhanced and attention span is increased.
- Stroop Test
Stroop test is a common technique that is widely used by psychiatrists, psychologists, and scientists for neuropsychological evaluations. It is a reliable test that informs about the mental flexibility of the individual and is also effective in cultivating the attention span of the human mind. You can start by taking a blank page and writing the names of at least twenty different colors with bold markers. Remember that the name of each color is to be written with a marker of a different color. If you want to make it more efficient and convenient, you can also make a Google Search about Stroop Test and find a blank page with the color names already made for you. Put the page in front of you, and start calling the name of each color that is written on the paper out loud. Right after the name, you do also have to say the color in which it is written. Apparently, it may sound silly to you. But you’d be amazed to see how hard this exercise is when it comes to practicing. You are required to continue repeating the exercise unless you read and name all colors without making a mistake. The Stroop test is a surefire way of strengthening your attention span and protect your mind against all distractions.
- Pomodoro Technique
Pomodoro Technique is one of the simplest yet highly effective proactive strategy for distracted people to regain their focus before starting to work. The technique requires you to break the assigned task into smaller parts, with a designated time of no more than thirty minutes for each to complete. Keep a timer with you and focus only on one of the parts of the assignment at a time. For optimum results, you should start with the part that you consider the hardest and then move in a descending order towards the easiest part. The idea here is to plan for each of the tasks individually and focusing on them without any breaks and distractions. Once one of the parts is completed, you can allow yourself a break for fifteen minutes. Research shows that putting a reward of a break after completing each component of the assignment i-e after every thirty minutes, enables your mind to keep its focus and avoid distractions during this time. Once you start to experience an increase in your attention span, you can postpone the break to after every 45 minutes instead. The Pomodoro technique is a simple strategy that you can implement today for making your mind more focused and optimizing your productivity.
As evident from the information mentioned above, lack of focus and reduced attention span can create a problem for you with not only your professional life but also your personal life taking the hit. The exercises mentioned above are simple for you to follow so you wouldn’t need a coach to help you regain your focus and strengthen your attention span. With a busy schedule like yours, it is understandable that you can’t spare a lot of time, therefore, we have carefully picked the top 4 practices which are both time efficient yet highly effective. Give it a go and see your focus sharpening overtime for yourself. Stop letting your personal and professional life getting hurt merely because of a lack of focus. Wouldn’t you want to be more productive, creative, interesting, and eventually more charming for the people around you? All of it is entwined to a single quality of how focused you are.