By Chark Jen Wei
In our ever-increasing digitalised world, technology has provided us with countless benefits and conveniences but there might be a downside when it comes to our mental focus. According to studies in the early 2000s, the average attention span of a person has decreased from 12 to 8 seconds. This issue is only exasperated by individuals confined indoors which will encourage higher usage of electronic devices such as smartphones. A study in 2019 shows that using cell phones in between breaks when working on tasks, decreases cognitive ability.
Our smartphones and even our computers are amazing versatile tools that can do just about anything especially with an internet connection. This is both a curse and a blessing. It can be used for efficient work, and it also can be used for engaging entertainment. There needs to be a certain level of mental will to choose to do the former rather than the latter because our natural human instincts is to seek pleasure.
Here are some useful tips to help increase one’s productivity:
Studies have shown that chewing gum can help improve attention and performance when working. This is because the active process of chewing gum increases alertness and reduces stress. As described, it is only helpful when in the process of chewing and will not have long-lasting effects but it is a quick and easy way to improve focus nonetheless.
Water is important for our body and mind. Dehydration can decrease cognitive functions; merely 2 hours of dehydration can worsen one’s ability to think.
Exercise provides many benefits and improving one’s focus is definitely one of them. Exercise helps to produce endorphins which is a natural feel-good chemical to combat stress or pain, which is useful when trying to focus on a task that might be overwhelming and stressful. Other than that, exercise produces melatonin which is a hormone that is used to regulate a good sleep cycle. Having adequate amount of sleep also helps one’s alertness during the day.
Meditation is the process of training to focus. Much of our problems with focus is distractions, and meditation helps us train to ignore or redirect those distracting thoughts. There is evidence supporting the fact that meditation can improve focus.
We like to think to ourselves that willpower is generated from within and is limitless if we believe in ourselves, but there have been studies that show there are limits to our willpower. Studies also show that actively resisting temptation of doing something takes mental effort. Therefore, a very practical and effortless way to combat distractions and increase focus is to just eliminate the sources of distraction. For example, if working on a computer (which itself have many distractions), it is a good idea to leave the smartphone far away from the work area.
Now, are you ready to channel that right energy?