Saturday, February 04, 2023 | Rajab 12, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Attention please

“A recent study reported in the Harvard Business Review reveals that our own restless thoughts, not smartphones, are the main cause of our poor attention”


According to recent research the average human adult attention span was 12 second in the year 2000 but it dropped to 8 seconds in 2021. We frequently use smartphones and other online services, which is generally blamed for this decline.


As we go around, it's not unusual to see people texting as they enter a mosque or a shopping centre, as they are driving, or even as they are using their phones in the restroom. The only time I can think of when people would put their phones away is when they are flying on an airplane, but since some airlines now provide Internet access while in the air, even that break has been taken away from us.


Since we started carrying our virtual workplaces around in our smartphones, we have developed an addiction with wanting to be constantly online, whether it is for work or for entertainment.


The average person picks up their phone more than 1,500 times per week, or once every 5.5 minutes, according to a new study, while the typical office worker checks their e-mail 11 times per hour. It's interesting to note that despite how much time we spend online, the average user only stays on a website for 10 to 20 seconds before leaving.


This shows that people struggle with concentration and attention, as some of us are powerless against the impulse to check notifications as soon as they pop up on our smartphones. However, a recent study reported in the Harvard Business Review reveals that our own restless thoughts, not smartphones, are the main cause of our poor attention.


According to psychologists, we typically spend about 47 per cent of each waking hour "mind wandering and daydreaming." Imagining your forthcoming vacation while you drive to work or practicing an argument you believe you're about to have with your husband or a coworker, even if it may never happen. These are things we all do without even realising it.


What can we do, then, to increase our focus? Psychologists suggest using a technique they call Notice-Shift-Rewire to help us pay attention. You begin by becoming aware of your wondering. This is not always simple, but it might be helpful to pay attention to clues.


For example, if you see a stop sign while driving or walking to work, ask yourself if your mind is there or elsewhere. When you become aware that your thoughts are wandering, change your focus to what you are doing right now.


For instance, if you are biting into an apple, try concentrating on the crunchiness, sound and flavour of the fruit as you do so. Try to concentrate on what your friend or coworker is saying when you are speaking to him.


The last stage is to reinforce this new focus-related habit. With time and effort, you will be able to perfect this approach, but don't get discouraged if you find that your mind keeps returning to the wondering state. Try focusing on the current moment for 15 to 30 seconds. People who have used it believe it is an easy approach to lower stress and boost productivity.


Finally, it's worthwhile learning new strategies to refocus and evaluate our interactions with the Internet, whether our lack of focus is caused by using our smartphones or an ingrained component of our minds.


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