If you can’t read two pages of a book without getting twitchy or struggle to go for an hour without checking social media, then you’re not alone.
A recent study by tech giant Microsoft found that the human attention span has shrivelled by 25% in just a few years. It’s just one of a growing number of studies suggesting that in the digital age, our ability to focus is decreasing.
Over the past two decades, the internet has become a constant presence in our lives. Much of that has been good – social media connects people with shared interests, gives the under-represented a voice, and exposes us to new ideas. You are most likely reading this article online.
And podcasts and audiobooks make mundane tasks, like driving or household chores, more enjoyable (and sometimes educational).
But are we having too much of a good thing? If you seem to spend hours lost in a digital rabbit hole, perhaps it’s time to reappraise your habits. You don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach, it might just be a case of being more measured.
Five ideas to sharpen your focus
- Be more mindful of your online activity. Is it productive? Does it make you feel happy? If the answer is no, consider scaling back your screen time or deleting apps that have a negative impact.
- The artificial light from phones and laptops messes with the body’s internal clock and your ability to sleep. That’s why experts advise people to avoid screens before bed.
- Every time we flick from one thing to another (as most of us do online), our brain adjusts. This can be tiring over an extended period and explains why you feel shattered after an hour on the couch scrolling.
- Wrestle back control with apps like Serene and Freedom, which monitor your focus and block distracting apps and websites, or try the more radical options: SelfControl and Cold Turkey Blocker.
- The kSafe is a time-lock safe that protects you from yourself. You set the timer and put your object of choice – be it a phone or gaming handset – into the heavy-duty container and lock it. The safe won’t unlock until the designated time.