Technology is slowly killing our attention spans. Humans now have shorter attention spans than goldfish. I believe that – in order to live a healthy and meaningful life – we need to be able to focus from time to time. You need to take control and ensure that technology is not your master before it is too late. Start to train your focus and improve your life.
How can you train your focus and improve your life? In this blog I give you 10 tips on how to start.
they crave our constant attention And our money
Invasion of the brain snatchers
I just had an idea for a new science fiction movie. It is called “Invasion of the brain snatchers” and this is what it is about: “The last few decades large technology companies have been infiltrating our lives. They have secretly taken over our homes and our minds. What do they want? They don’t want our blood. But they do crave our constant attention. And our money. At the end of the movie all humans have been turned into unhappy, constantly consuming zombies. Slowly killing the planet they inhabit.”
Sounds like a pretty twisted movie plot? I guess so. But for many of us it is reality. Because there really is a battle going on. A battle for our attention. And that is something that we need to be aware of. Because – besides money and our planet – the cost is also our shortening attention span. And that of our kids. That is why you need to train your focus and improve your life.
We now have shorter attention spans than goldfish
According to research, our attention span has significantly decreased the last few decades. In 2000, it was 12 seconds. In 2015 it had shrunk to 8.25 seconds. And I guess it has shrunk even more the last few years. Some research claims that we now have shorter attention spans than goldfish, who are able to focus on a task or object for 9 seconds.
We need to stop sleepwalking and really be present and aware of our surroundings
I believe that – in order to live a healthy and meaningful life – we need to be able to really focus from time to time. Focus on the words of our loved ones when they are speaking. Focus on our work to be able to create great things. And focus on our planet and the increasing social and environmental problems. We need to stop sleepwalking and really be present and aware of our surroundings.
How to train your focus and improve your life
Okay, let’s stop with the negativity now. Because I am actually quite positive. And I also love technology. That is why I don’t think we should ban technology. We just need to ensure that technology is not our master. We need to fight back to regain control and use technology as a tool. That is why you need to train your focus and improve your life.
These are the things you can start with to train your focus and improve your life:
1. Get fit
This is a battle and for a fight you need to be fit. That’s right: start exercising regularly, run, lift weights, stretch and don’t forget to enjoy it! I always loved running in nature but a while ago I also started training my muscles in the gym and recently I discovered the benefits of morning exercise.
There is just too much noise and stimulation these days. To counter that we just be quiet and sit still for a while. Feel your breath and the sensations in your body. Slow down the constant stream of thoughts and enjoy the silence. Discover that you are the one that is in control. I have been meditating for 1,5 years now and I am still learning. But it has become something I really enjoy and even look forward to doing!
3. Start a journal
Write down the things you do each day. And don’t forget to read your old entries from time to time. That will make you more aware of the things you actually do and achieve. You may be surprised how little you accomplish. Your awareness of this may help it to get better over time. I use daily journals for my work to track the things I do each day. Besides giving me an overview it also helps me to find the balance between the different activities.
4. Start listening
Remember how good it feels when someone actually listens to what you have to say? Return the favor: when you talk to someone, give him or her your undivided attention. Stop your mind from thinking about the things you want to say when it is your turn to speak and just….listen.
5. Fight your smartphone addiction
Don’t get me wrong: enjoy your smartphone and keep using it! It is a wonderful tool. Just don’t let it be your master. Fight the urge to constantly check it and mute most notifications.
6. Avoid open-plan offices
A while ago some people thought it would be great to put employees in an open-plan office. On the business side of things I can see the advantages. But it is really killing productivity and it is making people unhappy. We need our hideaways, our shelters at work to be able to focus and really get some work done.
Join the likes of Newton, Einstein and (more recently) Steve Jobs. Great, creative minds always loved long walks. It is the easiest thing you can do. Just go outside and walk. Preferably in places with a lot of nature. You will see that it will boost your creativity and your productivity. I love taking long walks and I make sure I don’t skip my lunch walks during workdays.
8. Use sounds
This is where technology actually helps us to focus. When you need to concentrate, find a sound that blocks out noise and helps you focus. For some it is the sound of birds and for others some kind of ambient music. Find our what helps you and use it. You can find a lot of these sounds on YouTube or Spotify. Personally, I also use the MyNoise app.
Stop reading social media posts and headlines and start reading actual books. We are all hardwired to love stories. So make sure you get your share of storytelling each day. I love the fact that Apple has included reading goals in iOS 13. But I am sure your E-reader has something similar. Try to get it up to thirty minutes a day. It is the best way to train your focus muscle.
10. Take power naps
Technology is also stealing our sleep and that of our teens. Power napping is a great way to reset your brain and improve your ability to focus. In that way I guess it is similar to meditation but obviously more focused on resting. Drink a cup of coffee, set a timer for fifteen minutes and take a nap. At the time the caffeine kicks in, you will have finished your nap and you will have perfect focus!