How to be productive and survive the eight-second syndrome (3 minute read)
Did you know that your attention span is decreasing? In 2000 it was around 12 seconds, and according to a study by Microsoft in 2018, the average human being now has an attention span of eight seconds. This means apparently, our attention span is one second less than a goldfish.
While I do question the relevance of comparing us to a goldfish, nevertheless, a reduction of four seconds in our attention span is a significant drop.
The definition of attention span is:
The amount of concentrated time a person can spend on a task without becoming distracted.
In a world of high pressure and increasing demands, what we really need is a longer attention span. Moreover, we need more ways to keep focus and concentrate. Tools to help us how to be productive and get things done. However in our digitally driven world where notifications swoosh across the computer, social media alerts you to a new message or ‘important’ event, and your phone rings or vibrates on your desk, it’s not hard to understand why we get so easily distracted, and our productivity has fallen. Procrastination is a major problem today too!
How to be productive when our attention span is falling?
With attention decreasing, day to day demands, pressures and obligations generally rising, it’s no surprise that fewer people find the time and energy to focus on their personal goals outside their everyday responsibilities and duties. Everything in life is energy, and the power of the mind is attention.
You have probably heard the expressions “What you focus on expands,” or, “You get what you concentrate on.”
A favourite of mine is one of the seven principles from Huna philosophy – MAKIA
“Energy flows where attention flows” – Huna Philosophy
How this relates to your working day is simple. When you deliberately focus on one thing, your energy is intensified to a greater degree. This means you are likely to finish your project sooner and the quality will probably be of a higher standard. When your mind is scattered in many projects, very little energy is generated in any one of them. Remember, every eight seconds you are prone to distraction and finding a way to avoid doing what is hard or essential. Your brain also loves distractions, especially those of a visual nature! Failure to complete your task and remain focused is just seconds away! Multi-tasking has never worked well!
You will always be prone to be affected by energies around you
There will always be distractions, whether digital distractions or people. However, by implementing the power of focus, you can learn to shut them out or respond to them differently. The clearer your attention the more efficient and effective you will be. Think for a moment how much information comes into your day and how much you do for others without checking your focus.
Your mind is a muscle, so just like you need to work your physical body in a gym, your mind needs a work out too. By strengthening your mind muscle, you will become better at paying attention, avoiding distractions and time sapping activities that lead to failure and wasting time.
There are many ways to keep focused and productive. Examples include planning your day, prioritising, scheduling tasks, breaking your day into time blocks, and keeping your goals at the front of your mind. Moreover, I have even created a program dedicated to teaching you exactly how to double your focus and breakthrough your current challenges.
However, here is an unusual technique for how to be productive more often
This technique helps you build your mental muscle and increases your attention.
- Before you go to sleep at night, dwell on the events of the day in reverse order. Yes, reverse order! Focus your attention on the last thing you did, that is, getting into bed.
- Next, run your day backwards through each event until you reach the first event, getting out of bed.
- Notice how far you get through this exercise before your mind wanders off. At first, it may only be a few seconds. However, gradually, if you persist and practice regularly, you will find it will slowly increase. The question, how to be productive, can be solved by committing to this simple discipline.
- As your mind is gently given a work our, you will gradually build your attention span. This means you have discovered how to be productive and avoid that eight-second syndrome.
Giving your brain a workout is an essential key to longevity and maintaining your health. ‘Use it or lose it’ applies to the brain just as much as to your physical body when it comes to working out at the gym.
Remember, your mind is a muscle, so it needs discipline, consistency in using this process and evaluating your progress. This is how to be productive and avoid that eight-second syndrome.
About the Author
Mandy Napier BSC (Sunshine Coast, Australia) is a Global Mindset & Performance Coach who coaches people to P.E.R.F.O.R.M optimally and produce breakthrough results personally and professionally. Ultimately to tap into and harness their full potential. As an authentic, and inspirational coach and speaker, she partners with professionals and teams to create transformations and lasting results.
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