Stay focused by . . . umm . . . where was I?
STRESS COUNSELLOR ANN ZIETY’S TOP TIPS TO BOOST YOUR ATTENTION SPAN — AS TOLD TO CRAIG BROWN
Easily distracted? i said — easily distracted? in these highstress days of social media, many people find it hard to concentrate. Just to recap for a second — in these high-stress days of social media, blah, blah, blah. Whatever!
surveys show we check our phones at least 150 times a day, make that 151, OK, 152. sorry, what were we just saying? Oh yes, i remember. surveys.
apparently, we spend between two and four hours a day on social media. That’s a lot. i’ll just check that on Twitter. That’s right: we spend two to four hours a day on social media. so of course we’re distracted. Or have i already said that?
so here are my Top Tips To Boost your attention Thingy.
1) Concentration is not infinite
as i say, it’s not infinite. What isn’t? That’s right: concentration. Wasn’t there a song called infinite a few years ago? it may have been by Boyzone, or possibly Take That.
Hang on . . . i’ll just check.
ah, yes! it was called infinity and it was by One Direction. as i thought.
Where was i? i’ll just scroll back. Oh, yes. Concentration is not infinite. so it’s really important to build in a few breaks. i always allow myself a break every 40 minutes. i then get down to ten minutes of hard work before going back on social media.
2) Identify your most productive time of the day
Many high achievers swear by rising early and getting straight down to work.
Top writer and achiever Julia Hobsbawm, co-author of it’s all about Me, says: ‘i rise at 5am and never spend more than two hours on social media, unless it’s a) the weekend or b) a weekday beginning with a T or a W, in which case i allow myself a maximum three to four hours, or possibly five, but only if i find something really useful.’
And then Julia switches off all her devices and gets down to work, only switching them back on again if she has to check a fact or see how her book is doing.
Julia’s latest book, Empty space, consists largely of blank pages. ‘I wanted to create a trauma-free zone where readers could take time off to think about things without the usual distraction of words and pictures,’ explains Julia. Empty space is described by her publishers as ‘a moving and intimate meditation on what it means to be human’.
3) Go for a 20-minute jog on the hour, every hour
‘STUDIES have shown that a 20minute jog is a great way to get out of breath,’ says Brian Power, Professor of Focus at the university of Huffenpuff, Tennessee. ‘and then you need 20 minutes to recover, which leaves 15 minutes to shower and change clothes. This should leave you a good five minutes to concentrate on compiling a brilliant checklist of things that need doing.’
4) Jigsaws are good for the brain
DOING jigsaws is a superb way to train your attention span. Whenever I am about to embark on a lengthy piece of work, I tackle a jigsaw. Eight hours later, the jigsaw successfully completed, my brain is up and running. I know that tomorrow I will be in a literally fantastic place to embark on my lengthy piece of work.
Or the day after.
5) Don’t work at home
WORKING at home is challenging because you are distracted not only by your phone but by everything else too: your fridge, your radio, those photographs you haven’t stuck into your album, your television, Deliveroo, the birdbath in the garden, the newspaper, the dishwasher, your cat, amazon, that stain on the tablecloth, the picture in the sitting room which doesn’t look quite right where it is.
But, above all, by the jigsaw you’ve only half-completed.
6) Don’t work in an office
WORKING in an office is challenging because you are distracted not only by your phone but by everything else too: the phone ringing, the lift doors opening and shutting, that person in Hr with the cough and the irritating manner, the buzz from the air conditioning, people saying, ‘Do you have a minute?’
But, above all, by the thought that you’d be better off working from home.