A 2015 consumer behavior study undertaken by Microsoft Canada cited a shocking statistic: The average human attention span had dropped from 12 seconds to eight. For reference, the humble goldfish, not famous for its focus, can pull nine.
Needless to say, the attention study garnered a lot of … well, attention. It was all over USA Today, the New York Times, the Telegraph, the Guardian, and Time magazine. A Harvard academic reviewed the report on Marketplace. The management book Brief delved into the findings.
Not that the stat shocked most folks. We’re past the dawn of this digitized, über-connected eon of the aptly-named “web” now. Most of us have grown up cutting our teeth on the constant promise of that sugary, shimmering, sexy thing just over there.
In short, we’re more than familiar with distractions. We even know they’re distractions. We just can’t help ourselves from falling for them.
We can be forgiven. After all, the whole tech industry’s built on that premise, designed for that purpose. Kerjillions of bucks dedicated to the “distraction economy,” developing new, better, and evermore sinister ways to “monetize your ephemeral interests.” To pull our focus off the task at hand and over to the candy-crush-big-boob-clickbait thing right over there.
Is it any wonder we’re losing the concentration game to our freshwater friends, Carassius auratus? Just look at this article! Hyperlinks alone can take years off your life. What started as a handy device has evolved into a monster. Are you supposed to burrow down every blue underlined gopher hole? And then again and again ad nauseum until you grow long in the tooth in whatever Narnian cave system cabals of blog writers have superimposed on your attention?
Go ahead. Try to avoid clicking on links that promise intrigue, amusement, even obvious distraction: “It seems the nettles have made the milk drop out from inside my teat” or maybe “I was raped by a skunk ape.”
You know, we wrangled a lot internally about putting popups on our blog. After all, our focus is focus. In the end, commerce won. Because our popups deliver a welcome distraction. Entrée into a program that will help your long term focus strategies.
But what kind of whack-a-mole tactics can you employ for the workaday popups and other distractions that inundate you?
The experts recommend you simply “unplug.” Oh, really? And how exactly do you do that, Dr. F*ck*ng Obvious?
It’ll never work. Not for most of us, not under our typical constraints. So, instead, we say you “plug.” Use the digital resources that surround you—but use them to the advantage of your focus. Start by plugging in some music.
But isn’t excessive background noise distracting? Sure, for some. Music might be slightly – or significantly – different than mere “noise,” however, in terms of what it does to your brain neurochemically, it’s different.
For millennia before the advent of the interwebs, music has been used across cultures to put people’s minds in specific states. Only recently have neuroscientists like the experts who work at F@W discovered that this effect comprises the broad impact of sound on neural circuitry across the brain—not only in the auditory cortex, but in all areas of the brain, including regions vital to memory, analysis, and creativity.
The key question is: What kind of music? Don’t be duped into thinking all music will work the same. Watch this space for the follow-up blog with an answer that cost us millions to uncover. In the meantime, don’t try to tune out. Plug in. Fish around for a favorite channel on F@W, get to work. See the results for yourself. See you next week.