Distractions erode memory. We walk into a room and cannot remember why we’re there. We try to focus on one thing when something else buzzes, speaks, lights up, invades our vision or thoughts and our attention is gone. As a society our attention span has shrunk to mere moments. No wonder we can’t remember; we can’t even pay attention!
Our increasing reliance on instant gratification coupled with the speed of information available contributes to our feeling distracted. While information and our access to it multiplies, our ability to process it diminishes as we age. If we don’t do something the gap will only widen, heightening our sense of forgetfulness.
While there isn’t one magical cure to increase attention span, there are a few things that may help. But just like any thing else in life, we have to just do it! Here are a few tried and true ways to enhance and focus attention:
- Exercise.The increased brain perfusion, oxygen and release of endorphins all contribute to better attention span. All these assist our frontal lobes to make better decisions by enhancing and creating connections between brain cells. It also makes us feel better and increases our ability to focus and concentrate.
- Minimize The Excess. Sounds simple but hard to do at times. When possible, remove any or all competing thoughts, noises, or other sensory distractions while trying to pay attention. The less vying for our attention, the easier it is for us to focus.
- Drink water. Our cells, including those in our brains, are comprised mostly of water. Thus maintaining adequate hydration is key for our brain cells to function properly and at their peak. If you’re thirsty, your cells are already dehydrated! Keep your brain (and other cells) functioning well by staying hydrated.
- Pick your time. When possible, manage when you are trying to concentrate and do your most difficult work. It’s much easier to concentrate when our brains are fresh and for most people this is in the morning. Everyone is different however, so pay attention to your best time of day, then use it well.
- Sleep well. There’s a reason most people are sharpest in the morning. Adequate sleep allows the the brain to organize and refresh, thus making mornings often the most productive and easiest time to concentrate. Sleep is one of the best things we can do for our brains, don’t neglect this!
- Motivate! This may be the most important one of all. If we really are motivated, concentrated focus comes easier. Yes all of the above will help but motivation remains the biggest factor in increasing or enhancing our attention. When motivated, we can often temporarily fight through some of the other issues, but if we can’t get motivated, it’s much more difficult to concentrate.
Those other day I was trying to concentrate on a simple thing and was amazed at how easily my mind kept wandering. There was no real distraction except my own meandering mind. I kept chastising myself until I finally just found the correct motivation and then focused my attention. It worked, although I still want to do better the first time.
Life moves fast, so let’s continue to work on the lifestyle factors of consistent exercise, hydration, time management, quality sleep and the proper motivation. Doing this will not only increase our attention and minimize distractions, but also allow us to make all our moments memorable!