Improve Your Attention Span with These Great Ideas

If you’re frustrated by fleeting focus, you aren’t alone. According to Social Times, 25 percent of Americans are forgetful due to short attention spans. A Harvard University study found that most of us spend 47 percent of our time not being in the moment. Over the past 10 years, the average attention span has decreased from 12 seconds to eight. The reason for this trend is information overload. Our brains are bombarded with external input. The good news is that there easy ways to harness attention. Following are simple tips for how to corral a meandering mind.

1. Chew gum.

In 2011, St. Lawrence University scientists found that gum-chewing boosts concentration by 25 percent. The chewing action increases the flow of blood and energy-producing glucose to the brain. Cinnamon-scented gum triggers the output of focus-enhancing brain waves. Minty gum reduces sleepiness, according to researchers at Coventry University. Chewing gum increases alertness, speeds reaction time, and improves mood. The effect lasts 20 minutes.

2. Tune into music.

Listening to instrumental music significantly improves attention span. A 2013 study by Kyoto University found that hearing “focus music” fosters single-mindedness. Melodious sounds orchestrate the release of dopamine in the brain. This hormone motivates us, sharpens alertness, and produces pleasure. Music returns us to the present moment.

Assistant Professor Teresa Lesiuk of the University of Miami has studied the effect of music on workplace performance. Her research involving Information Technology specialists showed that those who listened to music completed tasks more quickly and creatively than those who didn’t.

Dr. Amit Sood of the Mayo Clinic advises that it takes just 15-30 minutes of listening time to regain concentration. Here you’ll find more suggestions for using music to your advantage.

Experience the magic of productivity music with these samples:

3. Eat purple eggplant.

The skin of eggplant contains a plant compound called nasunin that strengthens and energizes brain cells. It also enhances communication between nerve cells and messenger hormones. As an antioxidant, nasunin protects against cellular damage. It facilitates blood flow and the transport of nutrients. Researchers at the University of California have found that 1/2 cup of purple eggplant is the ideal food for thought.

4. De-clutter your work zone.

Eliminating objects that aren’t needed for a task prevents distraction. You can minimize diversions in the following ways:

  • Keep the wall behind your desk relatively blank.
  • Clear your desk of sticky notes, business cards, and unfinished projects.
  • Store supplies and work folders in drawers and filing cabinets.
  • Maintain digital “To Do” lists. Here’s information on the top four digital Task List Programs recommended by PC Magazine.
  • Take five minutes at the beginning and end of each day to clear your work space.
  • 5. Wiggle your toes.

    This simple trick clears brain fog. The Franklin Institute reports that wiggling your toes energizes the brain. It prompts mindfulness, shifting your awareness into the present moment. You can perform this exercise before getting out of bed to jump-start your day. You can also discreetly remove your shoes where your time-out won’t be visible.

    • Exercise – Slowly bend and straighten all your toes for one minute. Then move your two big toes for one minute. Your brain will respond by becoming more alert.

    6. Nix multitasking.

    Our brains aren’t wired for juggling. Channeling attention in multiple directions reduces productivity. Thinking about more than one thing at a time overloads the brain’s working memory. Research conducted at the University of California found that people tend to switch tasks every three minutes throughout the day. Vacillating attention causes stress and triggers mistakes.

  • Multitasking is only benign when performing routine actions. For example, you can fold laundry while listing to the weather report since both tasks don’t require much brain power. For activities that require thinking, it’s best to do one thing at a time.

    Here are some interesting statistics regarding multitasking.

    .7. Stay hydrated.

    A 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that dehydration leads to inattention. You don’t have to be parched for cognitive ability to be impaired. Even mild dehydration dries up your brain’s capacity to concentrate. This is because the brain is composed of 85 percent water. It uses fluid for energy. Thirst isn’t the best indicator of the need for fluid. Feeling spacey can be a sign that it’s time to hydrate.

    Water delivers energy to the brain more effectively than any other beverage. The brain uses water to produce chemical messengers. When you’re operating on a full tank of H20, you’ll experience heightened focus, clarity, and creativity. How much is enough? The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Here’s a short list of the benefits of drinking water.

  • 8. Play brain-training games.

    A 2012 study published in PLOS analyzed the results of 151 computerized training studies. Researchers found that certain brain exercises improve concentration, processing speed, and memory. The learning involved in playing brain games creates new neural pathways. This improves mental function. Dr. Nadine Kaslow of Emory University advises that brain-training apps can prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

    The following apps are scientifically proven to build mental muscle:

    • Lumosity
    • CogniFit Brain Fitness
    • Brain Fitness Pro

    Researchers at London Metropolitan University advise that 15 minutes of daily brain training spurs the growth of new brain cells.

  • Eight Great Ways to Boost Concentration

    Now you have eight stepping stones on the path to goal achievement:

    1. Chew gum.
    2. Tune into music.
    3. Eat purple eggplant.
    4. De-clutter your work zone.
    5. Wiggle your toes.
    6. Nix multitasking.
    7. Stay hydrated.
    8. Play brain-training games.

    Alertness is just a toe-wiggle away!