According To Microsoft, Human Attention Spans Are Now Shorter Than A Goldfish’s

Is Technology Making Your Attention Span Shorter Than A Goldfish’s?

If you’ve ever found it hard to concentrate on one thing without stopping to check your emails or post to social media, you’re not alone. The average human attention span – how long we can concentrate effectively on a single task – was recently reported by Microsoft to have dropped below the level attributed to goldfish.

This certainly plays to our fears about what the daily flood of social media and emails is doing to us, and to younger generations in particular. However, these figures may be misleading. For one thing, the report contains no real detail for either the goldfish or human attention span beyond the numbers on the web page Microsoft pulled them from.

More importantly, our minds are adaptive systems, constantly reorganising and refocusing our mental faculties to suit the environment. So the idea that our ability to pay attention may be changing in response to the modern, online world is neither surprising nor anything to necessarily worry about. However, there is an argument that we must take care to keep control of our attention in a world increasingly filled with distractions.

The increasing number of distractions in our world is partly due to the new and ever-evolving ways in which advertisers can put their message in front of us – and the “increasingly immersive” techniques they’ll use once the message is there. Realising this helps us understand that our attention is a resource being fought over by advertisers.

The online world is increasingly comprised of spaces where advertisers attempt to tempt us with their products. Similarly, public spaces are increasingly full of adverts that can play sound and video to further capture our attention. Escaping this advertising battleground is becoming one of the luxuries of the modern world. It’s why paid-for executive lounges at airports are free from noisy, garish adverts and why the removal of adverts is a key selling point for paid-for apps.

Our mental abilities are changing, as they always have done in order to best serve our success in changing environments. But now, more than ever, our environment is made by those who either want our attention or want to sell access to it. It will certainly be interesting to see how our cognitive abilities adapt to meet this new challenge. However, as individuals we too must start valuing our attention as much as the advertisers do.

Martin Thirkettle, Lecturer in psychology, The Open University and Graham Pike, Professor of forensic cognition, The Open University

Original source


The Science Behind Procrastination


There’s no more elegant example of the cyclical self-torture of procrastination than the lyrics to a song from the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Our hero has a book report due. He sings in a halting, panicky monotone:

“If I start writing now…when I’m not really rested…it could upset my thinking which is not good at all…I’ll get a fresh start tomorrow…and it’s not due till Wednesday…so I’ll…have all of Tuesday unless…something should happen…Why does this always happen…I should be outside playing…getting fresh air and sunshine…I work best under pressure and there’ll be lots of pressure if I…wait till tomorrow…I should start writing now but if I…start writing now when I’m not really rested…it could upset my thinking…which is not good at all.”

Ring a bell? It’s a monologue we all experience in some form, an agonizing internal conversation that fells the best of us. And that’s…

View original post 454 more words

5 Tricks for Beating Procrastination


  • Use short, painless dashes of effort. Just have at it for five minutes and feel free to watch the clock. Chances are you’ll realize it’s not so bad.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Join over 150,000 readers. Get a free weekly update…

View original post 39 more words

The 3 Best Ways to Tackle Procrastination


Answer by John Chan, designer and founder of Dayboard, on Quora.

1) Write a daily to do list
Long to do lists don’t get done. They make us feel overwhelmed and even guilty if we know we’ve been putting them off.

So instead of staring at 30 or 40 items at a time, make your to do list super short but turning it into a daily to do list of 3-5 items.

Having only 3-5 items does a few mental tricks:

  1. It makes us prioritize based on what we feel we can accomplish in a day
  2. It’s much more likely to be achieved
  3. Makes us feel like we’re making a lot of progress every time we complete one item (you’re crossing off 20-33% of your list off at a time!)

2) Turn your to-do into a 2-minute task to get started
We often dread getting started on a…

View original post 504 more words

5 Fool-Proof Ways to End Procrastination Today


“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow,” quipped Mark Twain. Waiting until later is one of life’s guilty secrets, but chronic procrastination is linked to poorer health, work and relationship outcomes. Thankfully there are some straightforward ways to put off putting-off, and the way you think about a task can impact your desire to get it done.

In one psychological study, participants were given a 15-minute head start on a math test, during which time they could choose to practice for the test, play a video game or work on a puzzle. When the math test was introduced as an important measurement of cognitive ability, those with a propensity to procrastinate spent more time playing video games or doing the puzzle than others. But when the math test was described as a fun game, there was no difference in the amount of time procrastinators…

View original post 770 more words