Get ready: This blog is longer than usual
I attended a teacher training session in 2018. The facilitator shared with us a formula of how to calculate the average attention span of an individual. They said, “Get the individual’s age and multiply it with 2 or 3 or 4 or 5”. For example, the average attention span of a twenty year old would range between 40 minutes and 100 minutes for 20 × 2 and 20 × 5 respectively.
Now, before I continue, do you know what attention span is? Attention span is the length of time you can concentrate on an idea or activity. That means, a twenty year old can concentrate on an activity for about 40 minutes to 100 minutes.
Pause now and calculate your attention span. Sorry for taking you back to maths class.
In my experience, I have noticed that the above calculation is almost ideal. Most folks don’t focus on an activity that long. We are experiencing very low attention spans like never before because of the speed our world is moving at. Everything is instant and therefore the ability to focus for long is being lost.
Some of the things that make us lose our attention are gadgets and yet the people who produce them take many hours focusing so they can come up with a great product or application to be used on the gadget.
Why is it that some people have harnessed their ability to focus and yet others seem not to concentrate on anything. The reality is there is never enough time to do everything you have to do but you can only get control of your time and your life by changing how you think about and deal with responsibilities. And that is what those people have done (at the beginning of this paragraph). This can happen by you stopping some things and spending more time on the few activities that can really make a difference in your life.
The ability to select your most important task at each moment and getting it done both quickly and well will be a great skill to develop. Doing many things at the same time also known as multitasking is what kills our ability to focus. But if we draw a plan and put first things first in that order then we can do one activity at a time quickly and well. This will result in extraordinary results. It will involve having the attitude that we don’t leave an activity until it is complete. So you need to know what you are going to do and what you will do after that activity. You need a plan.
There are 3 qualities to develop a habit of focus and concentration, which are decision, discipline and determination. You need to make up your mind to complete a task before you move onto the next task, you need to subject yourself to continuous practice until it becomes part of you (self-control) and then you need to have a never give up attitude until you have completed the task before you.
I believe this will help us focus and concentrate better. Do one activity at a time.