Welp, it’s official. I don’t have an attention span any more. It’s gone the way of Zubaz, Friendster, and the Dodo.
I don’t want to be the person who can’t sit still for more than ten minutes and won’t read things without bullet points!
I don’t want my instant reaction to a tough bit of code, an unpleasant email or some un-editable writing to be “Ugh. Has anything popped up in Google reader? I’m going to see if anyone has responded to my latest hilarious Facebook update!” Puke.
8 ways to increase your attention span
Meditation has been scientifically proven to make you calmer, more focused and less likely to be depressed. Simply set the timer on your phone for five minutes, sit with you back against the wall, close your eyes and actively empty your mind. Ommmm-chanting and incense-burning not required!
Need a bit of help? Try the Calm app. Its free guided meditations are great for beginners!
Do a bit of physical activity
We’ve all heard it a million times – physical activity makes you happier, calmer, more focused and generally more awesome. You don’t have to join a gym or do a Gillian Michael’s caliber workout to see the effects! A ten minute walk through the park, a few rounds of sun salutations or even just a dance break can do wonders.
Sometimes when I’m feeling listless, sleepy or unfocused, I’ll pull up the She Wolf video, put it on repeat, and dance around the kitchen for 10 minutes. PROBLEM SOLVED.
Set a timer
Have you heard of the Pomodoro technique? That ish will change your life. The crux of it is this: set a timer for 25 minutes and then do one thing for those 25 minutes.
When the timer dings, you get a five-minute break to do whatever you want, then you set the timer again and keep going. And no multitasking! Here’s another variation on this technique that uses boredom as a motivator.
Do five more
Your attention span is like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the better it gets. So if you hit a wall force yourself to do “five more.” Read for five more minutes, do five more problems, write five more sentences. You might catch a second wind and if you don’t? At least, you’ve been slightly more productive and you’ve stretched your attention span muscle.
Limit your screen time
No surprise here, right? Close your laptop and physically put it away after 8 pm. Read a book, watch a movie in a theater, work on a home project. If you’re at a loss for screen-free ways to spend your evenings, here are 23 ways to unplug
Have a snack
Kids aren’t the only ones who get cranky and shifty when their blood sugar is low. I rarely produce anything worth reading after 3 pm but if I eat some nuts or fruit, I can usually string sentences together till at least 6:00!
Think of happy stuff
If you can’t concentrate because half of your brain is obsessing over your botched work presentation or that thing your frenemy said, take a break and think of good stuff.
Look at the sky for two minutes. Check out Pumpkin The Racoon’s Instagram feed. Send a sweet email to a friend. Write down all the different ways you can deal with that thing that’s bugging you and then imagine you’re pushing that problem out the door and turning your key in the lock.
These won’t actually cure your jacked up attention span – but they will put a cute Hello Kitty bandaid on it.
It’s a Chrome app, designed especially to block you from attention-span draining sites! It even allows you to set time limits for specific sites, so you can give yourself access to Facebook … but only for 15 minutes a day.
Wifi-free coffee shops
I’m fairly sure these still exist, somewhere in rural America. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you don’t have the option to access the internet! If you live in Minneapolis, the Melo Glaze bakery
serves coffee, amazing pastries, and doesn’t
Stick with good ol’ fashioned, non-wifi internet at home
I know a self-employed couple whose lives slowly devolved into working on their laptops from bed, 18 hours a day. So they reverted to a one-internet-cable household and now if they want to work together, they make an active choice to find a wifi coffee shop, set a time frame, and get to work.
If they want to use the internet at home, they can use it one-at-a-time, sitting at a desk. How novel!
Seriously. I know that coffee makes some people jittery and insane, but for me it’s Liquid Ambition.
How’s your attention span? Any tricks to share?
P.S. The Art of Doing