Being able to focus is an important skill to have in all walks of life, whether studying, at work or simply watching a film. But in the modern world, people are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain focus as the rise of smartphones offers many distractions at our fingertips, with the increased sense of pressure to be “always available.”
If you’re concerned that your attention span isn’t what it used to be, you’re certainly not alone. It can be frustrating to realize you’ve been distracted once again and wasted valuable time. So, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are ways to increase your attention span to make you more focused, productive, and fulfilled. Read on to find out how to improve your attention span.
What is the Average Human Attention Span?
Studies have found that the average human attention span has significantly fallen since smartphones went mainstream. In the year 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds. Today, that number has dropped to just 8 seconds.
Apps like social media, instant messengers, and games are all cleverly designed to make users want to keep coming back for more. Notifications tempt you to check your phone while entertaining videos and targeted adverts keep you hooked on scrolling. It’s no wonder then that our attention spans have shortened, with instant access to so many distractions in the palm of our hands!
Why Our Attention Spans Wane
There are many reasons we might get distracted while trying to focus for any one period of time. Outside influences like receiving emails or notifications to feeling stressed and overwhelmed, or simply losing interest in the task at hand are all viable reasons. However, most reasons for getting distracted can be categorized into the following three areas:
Lack of intention
Lack of intention simply means that you lack the desire to do something. In other words, you aren’t motivated strongly enough to concentrate on the task at hand. People might lack intention when there is no fixed deadline to complete the job or if their daily schedules have no structure. This leads to procrastination and the excuse of “I’ll finish it later.”
On the other hand, people can struggle to concentrate on a specific task when they have too many things to do and feel overwhelmed by them. This can cause people to flit from task to task without ever entirely focusing on any of them, decreasing productivity overall.
Again, this issue can arise if people have no structure to their day and don’t know which task to prioritize first. Attention overwhelm leads people to feel stressed and frustrated and can mean that objectives take longer to complete because they aren’t giving them their full attention.
Struggling to focus can also be a sign of emotional exhaustion. Feeling worn-out and drained due to accumulated stress from work or personal life can greatly impact a person’s ability to focus.
Emotional exhaustion is one of the signs of burnout and has been a big issue during the Coronavirus pandemic as employees struggle with the stresses and worries of living under lockdown.
Attention Span Test
If you’re concerned about your attention span, why not try taking an attention span test? The test helps you gauge your ability to focus and understand which behaviours you could try to curb in order to improve your attention span. Answer just a few simple questions to find out where your attention span ranks from 1 to 100. You might be surprised by the results!
How Can Tracking Your Time Help?
Time tracking is one of the most effective strategies that can help improve your team’s focus and attention in the three problem areas explained above. Here’s how it works:
As mentioned earlier, lack of intention can be caused by unstructured days without deadlines or targets. Introducing time tracking gives your team a daily structure and helps motivate them to complete tasks in the allotted time.
Providing more structure to your team’s day days puts the onus back on them to stay focused and hit deadlines, meaning they feel more driven and are less likely to lapse into distraction. Scheduling tasks accordingly can help team members reach their desired goal and move on to the next one.
The result? A more productive, motivated, and attentive team that produces work to meet deadlines. It’s a win-win!
Pay attention without overwhelm
On the other end of the spectrum, overwhelmed team members can also benefit from time tracking as it helps them to focus on individual tasks without distractions. Time blocking is an excellent time management technique that helps offset this overwhelming feeling and boost productivity levels at the same time.
Time blocking prioritizes tasks by urgency and ensures your team has enough time to concentrate and get the job done before moving on to the next task. It also means managers have a better idea of who is working on what and can move tasks and resources around to ensure deadlines are met during rush periods.
Improve emotional exhaustion with scheduling
Finally, although this is an issue that team leaders will need to approach sensitively and tactfully depending on the individual circumstances, emotional exhaustion can also be dealt with through time tracking.
With time tracking software, it’s possible to schedule in time to allow your team members to take a break from the pressure and stresses of work and recharge with some well-earned me-time.
Time tracking can help alleviate emotional exhaustion in a number of ways, for example:
- Scheduling longer lunch breaks to allow your team time to take a walk in nature, which is proven to reduce stress, and refuel for the afternoon.
- Practice mindfulness in your weekly routine, allocating time for meditation, yoga, or mindful walking whichever works best for them.
- Ensuring that your team is planning their annual leave periodically throughout the year. They have something to look forward to and time to switch off and recharge without worrying about their work-based responsibilities.
Improve Focus Time with Time Tracking Software
Overall, time tracking software is a great way to overcome the obstacles affecting your teams’ concentration and focus. Such software can help managers and employees alike as it can be used to set intentions and tasks, decrease attention overwhelm, and help offset emotional exhaustion. Tracking time can also help improve everyone’s time management skills in the process.
If you’re looking to boost productivity and focus at work, look no further than QuickBooks Time. Track your time and tasks to help improve your team’s time management and focusing capabilities.