Through the exploration of this subject, we can see that there has been a dramatic change in the way the culture and attention span has evolved. But the real question is can we fix our attention spans before they deteriorate completely?
I believe this can be fixed, but it’s not a quick fix that instantly changes your perspective and the way you think. Instead, it will take time and consistency, with an intentional effort towards improving our concentration. You will also need to have the attitude to improve your attention for the right reasons. For example, improving yourself or making a conscious effort to distance yourself from distractions.
We can achieve this by doing something called “deep work“ which is a term used in Cal Newport’s book Deep Work. Newport tries to make you aware of the distractions that hinder you from doing something and focus on the task at hand, to do what he calls “deep work”.
In Deep Work, Newport tells us about Jason Benn, a consultant from Virginia. Benn wanted a career change after writing an Excel script to automate his day job which would have taken him six hours, to something he could now do with a click of a button. Benn decided to become a developer, but he had not attended a course or knew anything about the subject. So Benn locked himself away in his room for distraction-free, deep work and after two months he had finally learned enough to take a course that would land him a high paid developer job in San Francisco.
We can learn two things from this example, first, is that no matter what you want to learn or focus on, it’s possible with dedication. It could be a book, a skill or a new career, we just need to be dedicated enough to focus and see it through. Second, is how Benn controlled and changed his environment to allow him to focus more on his deep work. He locked himself away in his room with no phone or computer, just some textbooks and note cards.
Removing the distractions from your environment can be a huge help to allow your brain to concentrate. If you are wanting to read a book, go to a room without your phone or computer and read distraction free without the need to check your phone constantly. If you use a computer for work but want to focus more on the tasks you’re set, then think about installing an app that limits the amount of time you spend on certain websites and social media to help you concentrate.
Another thing you could adopt which is talked about in not only Deep Work but a number of other books on the subject, is becoming hard to reach. By this, I mean in your periods of distraction-free work, you turn off all distractions and emails that might hinder you from getting your work done. Also if people know you are hard to reach when you are doing distraction-free work.
Others such as Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows focus more on the problems with shallow work, which as you can guess, is the opposite of deep work. Boring mundane tasks or distractions that require no thinking at all and are constantly interrupted. Carr makes his opinions in The Shallows very clear by saying that due to the change of modern society, our brains are being rewired in an alarming way. He also says that once we have been consumed all day by shallow work, our brain has no energy left for deep meaningful work.
Also, taking into consideration the “Google It” mentality can help drastically improve your brain function. That’s not to say that we stop Googling altogether, it simply means that we should think about the information we are consuming and take time to process it. Instead of finding the answer and simply forgetting it moments later.Next → ← Previous