Human beings have been multi-taskers since one can remember. In the modern world, we are even more adept. We can watch videos, message our friends, exercise and cook at the same time! Due to consistent advancements in technology and information, our brains have evolved and changed the way they operate. We crave and devour fresh content and are always moving on to the next big thing.
Studies have demonstrated that general attention spans have decreased over the last ten years as compared to preceding studies. The interesting thing to note is that we are not to be blamed. With countless entities, brands and individuals competing for our attention, it is no surprise that our concentration levels have suffered an adverse impact. Who is not trying to capture your attention? Your family, your phone, your colleagues. It is challenging enough to manage your time. In today’s day and age, you may have to be a little creative and brainstorm some ways to help you give your undivided attention to the task or person at hand.
Turn That Ringer Off
When you go to a cinema to watch a movie, you are requested to switch off your cellular device. Why? Simple, so that you can truly take in the scenes, acting and storyline of the movie and enjoy it to its fullest potential. And that is mostly what happens (unless the movie is of poor quality and failed to win you over!).
There is a similar principle behind the same phone conduct in a business meeting, a coffee date, a proposal design or when preparing for a presentation. You will not be distracted by any chirp, ding or chime that will come from your mobile phone. Make sure you turn off its vibrator as well along with any notifications from other applications that appear on your screen. We promise you it will be the best decision you ever make-especially when you have a crazy deadline coming up!
Multi-task? Let’s Not!
So, we are not implying that we think you cannot handle doing two things at the same time-we just do not recommend it. In order to ameliorate your scope of attention, we advise you to engage in one task at a time. It is easy to get caught in the web of variant projects and get confused.
As you switch from one task to another, you may even feel that you are not accomplishing half as much as you should be. To avoid this feeling, fulfil the requirements of one work chore and then move on to the next. This way, you can dedicate your full and undivided attention to the venture in question and not create additional work for yourself. You may actually turn out to be more efficient and productive if you apply this methodology.
Another additional tip is to never multi-task whilst having a conversation with someone. It does not matter whether you are on the phone or in person. If it is face to face, he may pick it up through your body language and other subtle clues. And if on the phone, the person at the other end may be able to deduce it from the tone of your voice.
Lists, lists and more lists!
Sure, we do love lists as much as the next person as they serve as a snapshot of pending projects. However, too many lists can get too confusing! Think really hard about the tasks that you are responsible for. If possible, try to create categories and place them under the associated heading. For instance, if you are a Marketing Manager and have daily tasks (social media scheduling, website stats review, sales check etc), and strategic level ones (defining your brand plan for the coming year or evaluating a recent campaign etc), then you can classify your duties accordingly. Perhaps use Monday afternoons to create your social media plan and schedule your posts across all your platforms. Be stern with yourself and do not let anyone convince you to divert your efforts otherwise (unless it is a super emergency or priority task).
Social Media Recluse
If you are addicted to your social media accounts and keep refreshing Facebook or Instagram every few minutes, do the obvious and log out! If that still can’t keep you under control, talk to your IT administrator and ask him to block the sites for a certain number of hours a day where you are your most productive. Feeling comfortable because you have your phone on you? Switch it off and confine it within the vicinity of a drawer a few metres away from your working cubicle so you are not as tempted to check it or have access to it.
Don’t Forget Your Coffee
Guess what, your morning cup of coffee won’t serve as your morning stimulant-but may help you narrow your focus as well. Hey, if it is tea that you desire, go for it! The Journal of Alzheimer’s shared a study performed by Astrid Nehlig, a French physiologist. She placed a strong link between caffeine and cognition. Unfortunately, the former is not a magical liquor that will make us concentrate automatically and allow us to complete our work-but will augment our physiological awareness. This will decrease overall distractions and will increase our focus.
Hot or Cold?
An interesting find occurred in a study conducted at Cornell University. It established that employees commit fewer mistakes when the temperature within the atmosphere ranges from 68-77 degrees. This notion was further strengthened at the Helsinki University of Technology in Finland through a study which placed the most productive temperature at 71 degrees.
Take a Break
The trick is to slowly train your brain into improving its attention span. The way to do that is to get up from your screen or task in question and take a walk. Stretch those legs and get some fresh air. Or just spend ten minutes engaging in something that captivates your interest-be it checking out football scores or reading the news.