Understanding rhythms of attention - Deepstash





Scientists Reveal the Number of Times You're Actually Conscious Each Minute

Understanding rhythms of attention

At any given moment, our brain focuses on a single point of interest. Like a filmstrip, the brain takes pictures of these moments, then assembles them into a cohesive story.

About four times every second, the brain stops taking snapshots of individual points of focus and collects background information about the environment, like sound, people, temperature, and so on. It then uses all the information to put together a narrative of the complete experience.


This is a professional note extracted from an online article.

Read more efficiently

Save what inspires you

Remember anything


Scientists Reveal the Number of Times You're Actually Conscious Each Minute

Scientists Reveal the Number of Times You're Actually Conscious Each Minute




Key Ideas

Our attention systems

According to scientists at Princeton University, the brain oscillates in and out of focus four times every second.

That means the brain stops focusing on the task at hand about 240 times a minute.

Rhythms of attention

The brain is distractible. We focus in bursts with periods of distractibility in between those bursts, where the brain seems to look at the rest of the environment outside to see if there's something important going on elsewhere.

This rhythm affects our behavior all the time.

Modern society

Modern life insists that we perform all sorts of hyper-focused tasks that overburdens our distractible brains.

Consider driving and drinking coffee while you're on the phone. It means that you're continually switching attention that could cause an accident.

Taking advantage

Every four times a second, our brains are open to stimuli outside our initial focus.

If there's something very bright or blinking at that time, you will shift your attention. Advertisers take advantage of this. For example, when you're on the internet and ads are popping up.




You don't have to do something too intense, just get moving to energize your brain and body.

A regular 20 - 45-minute high-intensity exercise will trigger positive endorphins, spark your meta...


Start your day by thinking who you want to be and what impact you want to have on the world.

To help you reach that state of motivation, read or listen to something inspiring.


Meditation is a way to focus your attention to your internal dialogue and moving it into the direction you desire.

The more you are able to focus your attention where you choose to, the stronger your mental muscle will become.

2 more ideas

Goal setting
Goal setting

Is the act of selecting a target or objective you wish to achieve.

Goal setting is not only about choosing the rewards you want to enjoy, but also the costs you are willing to pay t...

The Rudders and Oars Metaphor
It helps clarify the difference between SYSTEMS and GOALS:
  • Your goals are like the rudder on a small rowboat. They set the direction and determine where you go. 
  • If you commit to one goal, then the rudder stays put and you continue moving forward. 
  • If you flip-flop between goals, then the rudder moves all around and it is easy to find yourself rowing in circles.
  • If the rudder is your goal, then the oars are your process for achieving it. While the rudder determines your direction, it is the oars that determine your progress.

Example: If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.

How to Set Goals You'll Actually Follow
  1. Ruthlessly Eliminate Your Goals. Consistently prune and trim down your goals. If you can muster the courage to prune away a few of your goals, then you create the space you need for the remaining goals to fully blossom.
  2. Stack Your Goals. Make a specific plan for when, where and how you will perform this."Networking: After I return from my lunch break, I will send one email to someone I want to meet."
  3. Set an Upper Bound. Don't focus on the minimum threshold. Instead of saying,  “I want to make at least 10 sales calls today.” rather say, “I want to make at least 10 sales calls today, but not more than 20.”

2 more ideas

One of the reasons why Stoicism is enjoying a revival today is that it gives concrete answers to moral questions.
Aristotle gave us an alternative conception of happiness

It cannot be acquired by pleasurable experiences but only by identifying and realizing our own potential, moral and creative, in our specific environments, with our particular family, friends and colleagues, and helping others to do so.