Learning how to focus better can not only help us get more out of our workday - but more out of our entire lives. Who doesn’t want to add more hours to the day for the things they truly enjoy? But as a society, we have a lot of work to do when it comes to improving focus at work - and everywhere.
Did you know that due to the rise of social media and the way we share information so rapidly, it’s been suggested that the average human attention span is only eight seconds? That’s one full second less than a goldfish. Let that sink in for a moment.
It’s been claimed that the average office worker checks their email 30 times every hour - not day, hour. The average mobile phone user (which is essentially all of us) checks their phone 150 times a day - minimum.
How can we shift this and learn how to focus better? By leveraging neuroscience-based strategies, of course. Here’s our top three:
The first thing to understand is that your brain finds focusing very hard work if you’ve been attempting it for too long. Like any effective microlearning technique, it’s important to take breaks, especially if you’re doing complex work. By giving the parts of your brain that are involved in strategic thinking some downtime, you’ll give the other parts a chance to activate. These parts are great for brainstorming and creative thinking, so get those juices flowing.
Your brain prefers to focus on one task at a time. Switching frequently between different to-do’s and ideas makes things a lot harder for the machine that is your mind. Avoid trying to multitask, your brain performs best when you filter one source of information at a time. Otherwise, your brain automatically collects only the most vital information from either source, leaving large gaps in the data and impacting the quality of your output.
Like a horse dragging a carriage, your brain finds it easier to stay on track when it has something to work towards. Setting rewards is a great way to motivate yourself to focus and complete the task at hand. It could be as simple as saying: ‘If I focus on this task for the next half hour, I’ll go make myself a coffee’. You’re more likely to stick to an activity and stay focused with rewarded intervals.
We live in a world of constant distractions. Emails and social media alone are enough to completely hijack a work day, let alone unscheduled meetings and chatty colleagues. Honing your ability to truly focus is one of the best ways to stay productive and make more time for the things you enjoy.
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