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The lost art of concentration: being distracted in a digital world

Daily interruptions

On average, we experience an interruption every 8 minutes or about 7 or 8 per hour. In an 8t-hour day, that is about 60 interruptions. The average interruption takes about 5 minutes, so that is about 5 hours out of 8. 

And if it takes around 15 minutes to resume the interrupted activity at a good level of concentration, this means that we are never concentrating very well.

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The lost art of concentration: being distracted in a digital world

The lost art of concentration: being distracted in a digital world

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/14/the-lost-art-of-concentration-being-distracted-in-a-digital-world

theguardian.com

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Key Ideas

Myth of multitasking

We’re not actually multitasking; rather, we are switching rapidly between different activities.

Better concentration makes life easier and less stressful and we will be more productive. Practice concentration by finding things to do that specifically engage you for a period of time to the exclusion of everything else.

The ‘five more’ rule

... for learning to concentrate better:

Whenever you feel like quitting – just do five more – five more minutes, five more exercises, five more pages – which will extend your focus. 

The rule pushes you just beyond the point of frustration and helps build mental concentration.

Meditation and focus

  • Learning how to be more mindful, practicing mindfulness or meditation, can all help facilitate greater concentration. Start with breathing correctly. In all mindfulness or meditation practice, breathing is key. 
  • Another effective technique for boosting concentration is counting backwards. Similarly, spelling words backwards is a good way to focus: start with words that are easy: dog, box, cup, and then build up to longer words.

Physical exercise

For any extended period of exercise – whether it be yoga, playing a team sport or dancing – the engagement of the brain with the body is also an exercise in concentration. Regular exercise also activates the body and this is beneficial for the brain.

Reading for pleasure

We have got so used to skim reading for fast access to information that the demand of a more sophisticated vocabulary, a complex plot structure or a novel’s length can be difficult to engage with.

Single-minded attention may need relearning in order to enjoy reading for pleasure again.

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