Americans have about an eight-second attention span.
That’s less than a goldfish.
But we can improve our powers of concentration by, for example, finding clever ways to eliminate distractions, hacking our workflows, or working on our mindsets.
1. Invest in your sleep. Not sleeping enough makes people distracted, fat, and unethical, so be sure to get your rest. While everybody’s needs are different, it’s generally between six to nine hours. And invest in some nice sheets. — Yishan Wong
2. Exercise your body. Harvard Medical School has found that exercise improves your memory and concentration. You don’t have to be a Channing Tatum, but it’s important that your body is an asset, not a liability. — Achintya Prakash
3. Exile your distractions. Close email, Facebook, Twitter. Put your phone on aeroplane mode. Turn off anything that blinks, dings, buzzes, or vibrates. Don’t even give yourself the chance to multitask — since it erodes your attention span. — Bill Hall
4. Keep a routine. If you sleep, work, and relax at irregular intervals, you’ll spend unnecessary energy trying to organise your time. Like French novelist Gustave Flaubert said, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” — Frederick Javalera
5. Use the Pomodoro technique. Taking its name from a Pomodoro timer, which runs for 25 minutes, the Pomodoro technique is a practice of focusing intently on something for 25 minutes and then taking a five-minute break to get coffee, go to the bathroom, whatever. — Selene Chew
7. Take a stance on email. Is your job to be on top of things — to respond to everything as quickly as possible? Or does it require long hours of studying and concentration? If the latter, email might remain urgent, but it’s not important. So only check it a few times a day. — Xi Cheng
8. Know what your life goals are. If you don’t know what they are, read a good book on the subject (BI’s favourite: “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). Because when you know what you want to do, it’s easier to not do everything else. — Rolfe Dlugy-Hegwer
9. Do things you enjoy focusing on. It takes “emotional labour” to do work that you don’t engage with, so try to arrange your work day around that engagement, and hack it when it’s not there. — George Mortimer
10. Write out your obituary. It helps you identify what you actually need to get done. — Dan Webster
13. Find a partner in crime. Teaming up with a coworker will keep you accountable — if she’s coding while you’re checking Facebook, you’ll feel foolish. — Krzysztof Kowalczyk
14. Read physical books. It will train you in paying attention to an object for an extended length of time — something the digital world doesn’t provide very well. — Murali Veeraiyan
If you made it this far, congratulations.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.