“How to Focus” is an interesting article with useful tips to help you focus better and train to lengthen your attention span.
Now everyone close your Twitter clients, shutdown your email, disconnect that second monitor and get to work!
Most of the people who click on this article from somewhere won’t finish reading it. So says Nick Carr. The New York Times will remind you that you’ll probably forget reading it in a few minutes. The idea has gotten so prevalent, even the Onion has started to take its jabs.
There’s some truth to it. Posts like this and search trends point to what we’re after. Many people want the ability to focus more and feel like they’re losing the ability to focus on a particular task for long periods of time. We feel like we’re losing that ability. Getting Things Done and all the other books out there tend to give you some rituals to cope with the problem— but only if you could stick to them. Most of us, just a few weeks after reading that book, sit next to filing cabinets (virtual or otherwise) and go about our merry way.
That’s because we’re focused on the wrong thing. To get a longer attention span — even a span long enough to read this article — don’t worry about managing the information. Worry about managing your attention. Paying attention, for long periods of time, is a form of endurance athleticism. Like running a marathon, it requires practice and training to get the most out of it. It is as much Twitter’s fault that you have a short attention span as it is your closet’s fault it doesn’t have any running shoes in it. If you want the ability to focus on things for a long period of time, you need attention fitness.