It’s not that you have a short attention span, it’s that the game is rigged. Today, more than ever, there is a continuing battle for our attention as our devices jostle with our to-do lists.
Distractions are plentiful, with the average worker being interrupted or distracted by some form of messaging or information around 56 times per day.
No wonder we’re finding it harder to focus.
An estimated 306.4 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2020, with the average worker checking their emails 36 times per hour. Inbox anxiety is real.
In fact, in 2020, an estimated USD$517 billion was spent on advertising globally and all of this spending, emailing, messaging and information creation has been, and continues to be, done in a bid to win your attention.
None of this is too surprising when we consider:
- 4.2 billion people use the internet.
- There are 2.7 billion active users of Facebook every month.
- Instagram boasts 1 billion active users.
- Of the 250 million businesses in the world, 150 million business have websites and 70 million advertise online.
All of this bombardment of information hijacks our focus and manipulates our subconscious mind, pulling us further and further off track, giving rise to the term ‘digital dementia’. This represents the residue of attention left on the digital device we have most recently interacted with.
Dominate digital distractions
To combat the information overload and ensure that software remains a tool or product, rather than you becoming a product of the software, implement these tools:
- Turn off phone notifications and schedule times to check notifications throughout the day.
- Set time limits on apps which are addictive, time-consuming and that you possibly over-use
- Move all inbox apps to a folder on the last screen on your phone – this makes management of the inboxes efficient by enabling all replies to be addressed in a delegated time block. It also avoids us unconsciously opening apps out of poor habits by increasing the physical effort and time to access the apps.
- On social media, unfollow accounts that do not add value to your business, or any accounts that you do not actively engage with on a weekly basis.
- Delete any unused apps. This helps override decision fatigue and saves battery.
- Utilise ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode as much as possible – this prevents distractions from notifications while still allowing individuals categorised as favourites to contact you.
- Keep the phone face down and outside of arms reach when working or studying.
- Have a three-tab limit on internet browsers. It will improve RAM speed and un-clutter the mind when working online.
- Work only in full screen mode to avoid being distracted by the dock/ toolbar and other windows.
- Remove unused apps from the toolbar/dock.
- Have a clear desktop. A fast and dirty trick is to create a dump folder (such as ‘2020 desktop’) to clear any old clutter from last year.
- Use dark display mode to save the battery on your device, plus it protects eye health and reduces the likelihood of distractions.
Jake Carter is a global coach who specialises in educating people about functional medicine and nutrition.