Published By: Arpita Aadhya

How to Build Focus: A Short Guide to Increase Attention Span

Addiction to digital screens is so real that losing focus is easier than ever now.

I saw my father today completely lost in his phone for the exact two hours of the afternoon when he earlier took a walk at the terrace to watch the sunset or indulged in some serious gardening religiously for the last twenty years of his life. Can you remember when was the last time you completed a task without unconsciously unlocking the phone and open social media 5 times in between?

How is it possible that we can spend hours on social media or watch ten YouTube videos without even looking up once but lose focus in a thirty-minute zoom work meeting or while writing that 600 words draft?

The reason for our ever-shortening attention span is probably not a single thing but it is mostly a grander scheme of Silicon valley companies keeping our attention span glued to the digital screen.

Living in 2020 and witnessing all of the mayhem that is currently going on, the only way to build back your focus and increase attention span is to practice anti-screen-time revolution which simply means, being mindful of how and where we spend our attention and then regulate it accordingly.

Plan and Monitor Breaks

This one is a trial and error method and it may take some time to get to the aspired result but trust me, scheduling breaks and also monitoring break time would be the first way to check how your focus derails. For example, initially take breaks more frequently but limit the time of the break as well. It is like your way of rewarding yourself for successfully completing a task. The best way to monitor your attention span is to keep a journal and literally note down for how many minutes you scrolled social media and for how long you could focus on a task at a stretch.

Stop Multitasking, Set Clear Goals

I still hear the good ol' narrative of being a proud multitasker and it may work when you are cleaning your wardrobe while dancing to High Hopes but for a task that requires your undivided attention, multitasking is a recipe for disaster. Divide a longer task into short tasks and complete them individually, rather than trying to achieve everything together.

Limit Digital Screentime

Easier said than done, right? If only our phones wouldn't have buzzed every few seconds with a brand new text or notification.

Phones won't stop buzzing, so while you are seriously focusing on writing that report, switch off all notifications for the next half an hour. You can also schedule social media time and limit the apps at another time. As our brains require constant stimulation, this one will be the trickiest but you can always turn on the notifications after finishing replying to all the emails.

Building Healthier Habits

If the brain fog is too dense to disperse, might as well just take a walk.

Practicing mindfulness and building healthy habits like exercising and meditating actually help build those attention muscles. Some prefer journaling or simply sitting down and doing nothing. Studies suggest, taking a walk at a park or looking at greenery helps the mind to rejuvenate. For some of us stuck in apartments with no close proximity to parks, settle for some green plants at the desk.

In a world where every app in your phone and every tab at your desktop is fighting for your attention more and more, keeping the focus steady is harder than ever. And that is why it is probably so necessary to reclaim our own time and practice regular digital detox to check in with our thoughts or record them in a journal.  Only when we keep decluttering our mind to breathe free, it would grow to piece back more beautiful thoughts in it.