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Attention is a limited resource, so it’s important to use your time wisely. In a world where attention spans are shrinking and distractions are everywhere, it can be hard to stay focused on the task at hand. But according to recent research, there are several strategies that can help you increase your attention span and sharpen your focus.

How to Improve attention span with distration techniques that boost concentration

According to research published in Attention Research Reviews, there are five techniques that can actually increase your attention span and improve your focus.

Whether you want to organize your finances, catch up on emails, catch up on work, or take notes during meetings, having a few simple strategies to ensure you stay focused can have a profound effect on your productivity and your life.

Below we’ve listed the five different attention-management techniques and how to use them (or try them!) to stay focused, organized, and productive, even when you’re pressed for time.

Non-judgmental observation

You may still be working on unlearning your automatic smile when someone (or something) upsets you, but there’s good news: You can actually be objective and non-judgmental when it comes to your own mind and your own mental processes. Two Australian researchers conducted an experiment on group dynamics at work, using a technique that has been shown to increase time on task by 45%. Part of their method was observing coworkers under realistic circumstances to try and figure out if their workplace would work well (which presents some unique situations).

Improve attention span
Improve your Concentration
Source: Healthline

Hone your Attention Span

Pay attention to your coworkers on their various levels, including their authority and creativity, their enthusiasm and competitiveness, and what they have to offer and don’t. Pay attention to things that drive them, like their clothing, the music they’re playing, and what others are talking about. Notice how they carry themselves, talk, communicate, nod, speak quietly, compliment each other, and get along with each other.

Here are five ways you can do this at work:

Check-in with your colleagues by noting how they carry themselves, talk, play with their kids, offer compliments, and respond to your concerns.

You don’t have to be a parent to observe how people interact with their kids, which can be a powerful perspective because most people spend a considerable amount of time with their kids.

Pay attention to assortment items on the counter or in the cupboards. Notice how your coworkers interact with them and how that interaction changes based on who is in that specific situation (e.g., extroverts tend to leave the conversation with items like glass containers of nuts and cheese, while introverts tend to leave with more random items).

Take note of who is being mentioned and who is not in various meetings. Is the person with the clipboard or pogo stick talking more than the person who speaks quietly? Do they seem more organized and more focused than other coworkers? Pay attention to details, like their scarves or the type of hat they wear, details that others might not notice.

In a study published in Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience, participants were divided into two groups. One group was asked to view a series of videos on a rotating basis and the other group was asked to view that same series of videos sequentially.

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How to Maintain Attention Span

Researchers discovered that those who viewed the videos sequentially were able to maintain focus on the content. Even on a low-contrast display, they were still able to focus their attention on specific scenes. If you can apply this strategy to your daily tasks, your focus will improve.

3 Ways to Train your Attention Span

However, it’s simple: take some time to walk away from your desk, be louder, and look at your surroundings. Obviously, this isn’t the most striking of tasks, but attention span training can make a difference in the way you work.

Here are a few ways that you can use the power of attention span training to help improve your work, or your life:

  • Use the power of progressive visual stimulation to increase focus (Eye House).
  • Mimic a VIP by creating the “performance” that’s similar to (but without) the real deal. (Heliotype/Age Fenway Human Performance Laboratory).
  • Choose a simple task and break your task down into easily digestible chunks (Embeddedige).
  • Opt for short media for increased attention span (Looker Interactive).
  • According to neuroscientist David Rock. Attention span “is like the speed with which your brain processes information”. And is “the fluid underpinning of our ability to pay attention and make decisions.”

In fact, information processing occurs “at a rate of 60 to 80 times per second,” says Rock. “We may hold two or even three items in our attention simultaneously. Just by slowing down the rate of our responses. We may be less aware of the total information processing load. Or the level of concentration of our experiences and sometimes this default-mode network is activated.

Focus & Energy (Supplement)

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Enter Attention-Boosting Games

In a study published in the journal Nature Communications. Researchers found these 2, or distractingly simple, distractions could actually impair your focus.

However, if you can combine them into a game. You’ll increase the number of brain cells that stay active and stay focused for longer.

Furthermore, in the study, participants used 15 different distractors, and the optimal game play order changed results. When participants played the first 15 distractions in the order listed. 12 of them (80%) made it through the experiment with a No. 1 attention span. But when they actually played the distractions in the order listed immediately after the first 15 (in other words, their No. 1 attention span shrunk to 1), only six of them (60%) could retain their highest No. 1 attention span.

“It is clear that distraction itself does not cause anything. Except for an increase in attention deficit and an overall decline in performance,” explains Dr. Jamie Gruman of the neuropsychiatric university hospital in Montreal, Canada. “But when you change how you are distracting yourself, you change how your attention is being divided. Games like this return focus to what is most valuable. Doing the work, and making the most efficient use of the limited time you do have to concentrate.”

Practise Distraction Techniques

While you can try some of the distractions listed above. Try having some downtime to do some soul searching and self-reflection suggests Gruman. You may be surprised by what you discover about yourself.

“Have a cup of tea, meditate or go for a short walk,” says Steele. “Any well-designed practical exercise can be used to boost attention,” she adds.

But, Research published in the Journal of Physiology. Found when people performed specific trials of simple sit/stand experiments, their attention spans actually rose.

In this case, people looked at what was behind them more accurately. And were able to “pay more attention” to the stage on which they were standing. This feature is known as lateral attention and is (like other attention-boosting skills) a skill that can be learned.

“Imagery and numbers are powerful reminders that what we are doing is working and that we can ‘see and be seen’ by doing the task,” says Bowerman.

However, when doing activities (like walking) that involve simply being still. Such as noting your breath, you can actually change your brain. So that you can see what’s happening in front of you more clearly, she explains.

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