Time Management Expert, Event Speaker: Mark Lamendola

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Time Tips: Manage Your Attention Span Tip #3

Have you felt your attention span shrinking, over the years? There are many reasons why this happens, and just about all of them have to do with adaptive behavior. If you have a need to focus and concentrate, then the following items will be very helpful.

But why is it important to have a long attention span, if your goal is to save time? The answer is very simple. You work most efficiently when you are truly paying attention to what you are doing. You're also safer when you're paying attention, which is not good news for drivers in the United States.

Consider the task of writing a letter. Composing a good business letter takes about half an hour. If you have the typical 6-minute attention span, the wandering of your mind is going to show in the quality (or lack thereof) of that letter. To eliminate relatively long periods of working inefficiently (or poorly, meaning you have to do things over), be totally there when you are engaged in the activity.

So, here are some things to consider. You may wish to make your own list.

  • Tune out television. This trains your brain to absorb information in tiny bursts. If you want to be someone who can't read an instruction manual or do anything else that requires more than vapid attention, watch more television. Otherwise, cut it back or even cut it out completely.
  • Turn off the phone. There is no reason you must answer your phone just because it rings. People today abuse the phone. I run a business, and I find I must simply refuse to answer it for long stretches. Otherwise, I would not get anything done. In fact, my phone message says, "The best way to reach me is via e-mail."
  • Read. This particular skill is rapidly fading in American culture. The United States is becoming a nation of non-readers. Consequently, it is becoming a nation of people who can't think in the abstract (a critical skill) and who simply cannot focus without some video something or other to entertain them.
  • Read. Get a variety of reading material. If you stay on a fairly regular diet of books and quality magazines, you will find your attention span growing. Can you sit down and read a novel without stopping? Most of us really don't want to, but some of us can't.
  • Write. How often do you write correspondence to friends and family? Do you send paper letters, which require you to think before writing? Do you take the time to compose a thoughtful e-mail, which also requires concentration? These kinds of activities do take time. But by exercising the corresponding areas of your brain, you do everything else more efficiently.
  • Read. Do I sound like a broken record on this one? I cannot stress enough how reading hones the brain to make it faster and more powerful. The more you read, the better your attention span will be, also. But take care that you read material that is worth reading.
  • Get an attention-demanding hobby or sport. What do climbing, martial arts, ballet, cycling, and painting have in common? They all require the dedication of time to one activity. They exercise your attention span, as well as your body.


Do you want to radically improve how well people in your organization make use of the limited number of hours in each work day?

Contact me to arrange a time when we can talk about a presentation: mark@mindconnection.com. Why arrange a time? So I can give you full attention during the call. There's a really powerful time management tip. Ask me why it works.