You might have heard or read about the stats on memory span getting shorter in humans. In their articles on the topic, The New York Times, Time Magazine and the Telegraph all referred to a study conducted by Microsoft Canada, to better understand how to grab customers’ attention. Apparently the average attention span of human beings went down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds in the year 2015, less than the average attention span of a goldfish, 9 seconds.
Even if this is not true, and even if goldfish apparently have a great memory and the ability to learn, it makes you think.
What about this famous attention span? Why can you be focused for hours while reading your favourite author’s latest novel, or binging a series on Netflix? Why, on the other side, can you not last more than 5 minutes when listening to a scientific conference? You might say, and you would obviously be right, that Netflix requires less mental resources than a scientific conference.
Does it only depend on the content you are handling though? Why does the same activity seem extremely easy in the morning and absolutely impossible in the evening? Is it a matter of how tired you are? Of the time of the day? Of the amount of thoughts going through your mind in a specific moment?
The thing is, you can answer “yes” to all these questions. There are so many elements and factors influencing your attention span that it would be difficult to calculate even your average one.
So what can you do practically to best exploit your attention? Considering that it is basically impossible to predict in advance how long you are going to be able to focus on a specific day.
It all starts with planning your breaks and sticking – with a bit of flexibility – to your plans.
Watch the video to learn the Pomodoro Technique (2.0) and discover a way to beat every expectation regarding the length of your attention span.
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PS: in case you missed it in the text, here is the link to the BBC article that debunks the myth on the attention span of goldfish.