As an engineer, it’s important to have a long attention span, as one small mistake can lead to a fatal error that can cost the effectiveness of the project you’re working on, or worse, the lives of many. However, some of us just can’t seem to focus for an extended period of time. Studies show that the average attention span in 2013 was only 8 seconds. So to those of you looking to improve their focus, here are 6 tips and tricks to do so:
Physical activity releases chemicals in your brain that help improve learning and memory and can give a nice short-term boost way better than coffee, hence improving your attention and focus. So take some time to stretch. Walk around your building. Go for a jog. Anything that keeps your body going is good for you.
2) Drink more water
A study from 2012 from The Journal of Nutrition has shown that mild dehydration (one in which you don’t even feel thirsty) can lead to a lack of attention and focus. The Institute of Medicine recommends at least 9 cups of fluids for women and 12.5 cups for men. So don’t forget to drink up!
3) Pause and Think
Take some time to pause and think, just which tasks for today do you consider the most stressful to do? These are the most important tasks to accomplish, and once you’ve determined what they are, break them down into smaller bits and pieces so they won’t be as overwhelming
4) Get rid of distractions
Source: Marshall University’s Writing Center Blog
The internet is a wonderful place to stay connected with others from all over the world. However, this sense of connection is one of the main culprits in distracting us; The average worker checks their email 30 times in an hour. So when working, close all unneeded tabs, don’t check any form of social media, and settle in a quiet environment.
5) Work on one thing at a time
While most people swear they can multitask, the truth is that our brain isn’t designed to do so. Even if you do attempt it, you’ll just end up with a bunch of substandard work, or you’ll just be overwhelmed. So focus on one thing at a time.
6) Focus and refocus
Even if we do end up staying focused for an hour, we’ll eventually reach our limit and lose it. The key to overcoming this is that as soon as you realize you’re starting to lose focus (usually at around 40 minutes or so), just pause, and Refocus. Just keep on renewing your focus whenever you feel like it’s fading away and you’ve got yourself an attention span that can last for hours. It’s simply a cycle of focus, distraction, and refocus.