Do You Have Difficulty Focusing Your Attention?

This is the second of a 7-part series in why you might consider doing a Technology Detox (a “Techtox”). I hope it gets you thinking about your use of technology and how it may be impacting your health and well-being.

How Focused & Productive are You?

One of the worries I hear from many adults is their inability to focus. I see this when I teach a yoga class or participate in exercise or dance classes. People think their inability to do a combination has to do with “lack of coordination.” In my experience as a teacher and coach, it’s much more likely they’re not able to focus long enough to absorb and process what’s really being asked of them.

Attention span: the length of time for which a person can
concentrate mentally on a particular activity.

Here’s an experiment to try. The next time you turn on your TV to watch the news, simply notice:

  • How often do the images change or is something added, such as movement or text?

  • How many pieces of information, in an array of colors and movement patterns, are happening at once, requesting your brain’s attention?

  • How quickly (especially on the news) are the people talking? Is it 1.5x, 2x, or even faster than a casual conversation?

  • While watching, are you being encouraged to interact with the information presented in some other way (e.g. Twitter hashtags)? If you do this too, ask yourself the same questions of the secondary media you’re viewing.

Photo compliments of 123RF

Odds are, you’ll become more aware that when you’re consuming information via a device (TV or Internet), it’s an enormous amount of content that changes almost continuously. It’s a lot for your brain to keep up with, and if you’re engaging in this behavior for hours at a time, you’re training your brain to make countless quick leaps; the exact opposite of what paying attention and being focused requires. It makes sense that you’d find it difficult to focus when you want to!

In 2015 Microsoft conducted a study (involving surveys and brains scans called electroencephalograms (EEGs)) across multiple age groups and genders to learn the impact technology use was having on human attention span. The result? Our attention span shortened from 12 seconds to 8 seconds in more than a decade. Your goldfish now has a longer attention span than you! Furthermore, the researchers observed that people are also “more easily distracted by multiple streams of media” and hypothesized that “a weaker attention span could be the side effect of the brain having to adapt and change over time in the presence of technology.”

Certainly, everyone is different. But if you feel like you’re having a hard time concentrating and you can’t recall the last time you put down your phone, allowing your brain to slow down could be a big boon to your attention, your focus, and your productivity.

Want to improve your focus and increase your productivity?
Learn how to do a TechTox!


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