A Study Shows We’ve Become Less Attentive, and Here’s Why It Might Be a Good Sign
A study by Microsoft confirms that our attention span has shortened over the years and it shows that technology has quite a lot to do with that. Trying to focus on one thing can sometimes be very challenging, especially since nowadays we are surrounded by all kinds of constant distractions, which we try to filter out. However, losing some of our attention span in order to improve our selective attention is not such a bad thing.
Bright Side wouldn’t want a distraction to cost you productivity, so we wanted to shed some light on this interesting function that is attention, and to show you some tips on how to try to improve it.
There are 4 types of attention.
Attention is what enables us to make decisions and to know what is important and what isn’t, which makes it a big part of why humans are the most evolved species on the planet. It relies on hearing, sight, smell, touch, and taste that are processed by sensory receptors in our brain.
There are several types of attention:
- Selective attention: This allows us to prioritize information, based on its relevance to us or the situation at hand, and filter out any distractions.
- Divided attention: This allows us to divide our attention between different activities, it is also known as multi-tasking.
- Sustained attention: This allows us to maintain our attention over long periods of time for activities like driving or studying.
- Alternating attention: This allows us to switch our attention between different tasks.
Why selective attention helps us focus only on important things
In most cases, we can focus our attention only on the important or relevant-to-us things, while the rest becomes background noise that we sometimes don’t even notice. For example, when we’re trying to read a book outside, we are able to focus on it and not pay attention to the other unimportant things going on around us. This is all thanks to our selective attention.
Our attention span has shortened over the years.
According to this study by Microsoft, our attention span has lowered over the years. The researchers, having surveyed 2,000 participants, discovered that since the year 2000 our average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8. The study also shows that people who spend quite a lot of time on their phones or computers tend to be easily distracted.
Furthermore, 77% of younger people, between the ages of 18 and 24, who participated in the study agree with the statement that when nothing is occupying their attention, the first thing they do is grab their phone. And 79% of them say that they use other devices while watching TV. This is proof that technology affects our attention a lot.
A shorter attention span could mean we are evolving.
This study’s findings might not necessarily be a bad thing though. Despite our attention span taking a hit, it seems that our ability to multi-task has improved a lot. We’re also more aware of what deserves our attention and what doesn’t at that current moment. When we’re working and trying to finish a project, we tend to distance ourselves from our phones or other things that distract us.
How to improve our focus and attention span
If you find yourself struggling to focus or to pay attention, there are things you can do that will help you improve that:
- Set goals and break up tasks into small parts.
- Take short breaks.
- Remove all distractions.
- Try to cut down on multi-tasking if you notice that it actually makes you less productive.
- Breathing exercises can help you regain focus.
What is the thing that distracts you the most? And what do you do when you need to regain focus?