How to Improve Attention Span in 5 Easy Steps

Updated: Sep 13, 2020

Welcome to Rose-Minded, a mental health blog and self-care brand supporting others through their journey. We love to encourage journaling, self-care, and sharing your story to promote healing and recovery. Continue reading below for guest writer Taufiq's tips for improving focus and attention!

how to improve attention span

Have you ever lost focus right after spending a few minutes on a task? There are bulk amounts of emails, requests, or even endless thoughts on your mind that pop up every minute to divert you.

Well, you're not alone! It has been found that human brains at the moment stay focused just over half of our waking hours, a sad 53%, according to a study by Harvard University. The remaining 47% of the time, we get zoned out, thinking about something else. Unfortunately, wandering can happen at the wrong time, like when your boss makes a presentation and asks you a question.

We explored a lot of resources and evidence to find out the best practices that increase concentration. Meditation and mindfulness practices help be in the present moment. Many use light therapy for stress management. Follow the article to learn how to improve attention span. Be sure to read the end of the article for more information on attention, ADHD, professional help, and more.

How To Improve Attention Span

1. Practice Meditation

Meditation is the foremost step to improve your attention span. In a study, Giuseppe Pagnoni, an Italian neuroscientist, recruited twelve Zen meditators who have been practicing for at least three years. He compared the group of meditators to a control group of twelve volunteers who had never meditated by putting them on an MRI machine to measure their brain patterns.

Compared to non-meditators, meditators had more stability in their medial posterior cortex (vPMC), a region linked to spontaneous thoughts and wandering in mind. The results of brain scans confirmed Pagnoni's hypothesis. People who meditate regularly can improve their mental focus.

In other words, meditation helps calm the mind and trains you to focus and stay focused. Let's do a quick experiment, try to close your eyes, and clear your mind for a minute. Close your eyes now, I'll wait.

If you have done the experiment, you will find that it has not been easy to clear your mind. The more you try to clear your mind, the more thoughts will come out of nowhere. Researchers call this the "default mode network" - brain activity that constantly runs in the background.

See More: Personalize Your Meditation Space in 3 Simple Steps

2. Take Time to Exercise

One of the major benefits of regular exercise is increased concentration. Exercise benefits everyone. A 2018 study examining 116 fifth-graders found evidence suggesting that daily physical activity could help improve focus and attention after just 4 weeks.

Other research for the elderly suggests that a single year of moderate aerobic activity can help stop or even reverse the memory loss that occurs with age-related brain atrophy. Although aerobic exercise is recommended, it is better to do what you can than to do nothing. Depending on your physical condition and your weight goals, you may want to exercise more or less.

However, it is probably not always possible to do the recommended amount of exercise, especially if you are living with physical or mental health problems. If you do not have time to exercise or don't want to join a gym, try to think of fun ways to exercise throughout the day. If your heart rate goes up, you are exercising. Consider it as a crucial step on how to improve attention span.

Read more on the Best Exercises for Anxiety

3. Improve Sleep

Lack of sleep can easily disrupt concentration, not to mention other cognitive functions such as memory and attention. An occasional lack of sleep may not cause you too much trouble. But not being able to get a good night's sleep can affect your mood and performance at work.

Being too tired can even slow your reflexes and affect your ability to drive or do other daily tasks. A demanding schedule, health problems, and other factors sometimes make it difficult to get enough sleep. But it is important to try to get as close as possible to the recommended amount most nights.

Many experts recommend that adults aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Turn off the TV and record the screens an hour before bed. Exercise regularly, but try to avoid strenuous training just before bed. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends!

improve focus and attention

4. Try Light Therapy

Light therapy is being tested as a potential treatment for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Symptoms of ADHD include inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and in many cases, can lead to poor performance and social problems.

A study last year by Andrew Coogan, a Maynooth professor of psychology at the National University of Ireland, found a strong link between ADHD in adults and the circadian rhythm, more commonly known as the biological clock.

Again, light therapy was particularly proven for major depression. Even if you have a traumatic brain injury, red light therapy improves mood. That will eventually increase your ability to manage stress and anxiety. It will help you concentrate and can be a great solution to how to improve attention span.

5. Stop Multitasking

When trying to be productive, people often make the mistake of multitasking. For them, the ability to do multiple things at the same time means that they can do more in less time. Worse, some organizations encourage their employees to multitask by rewarding people who do it well.

Research at Stanford University has revealed that multitasking is less productive than doing one thing at a time. However, multitasking doesn't just hurt your productivity; it kills your performance and can even harm your brain.

To increase your attention span and function better, you need to stop multitasking. Like being good at what you repeatedly do, the more you multitask, the better you will do. Being good at multitasking means that it will be difficult for you to focus on the most important task at hand.

Final Thoughts

Some ways to improve focus may work well, while others seem to do little for you. Consider trying a variety of approaches to see what helps.

Experts are still debating the benefits of certain methods. But the existing evidence suggests that most of this advice can promote at least modest improvements in concentration for many people. Also, these tips are unlikely to reduce focus or cause other harm, so trying them shouldn't have any negative effects.

If you or someone you know struggles with poor attention span or focus, consider these tips as aids to your wellness journey. Seek out professional help if you feel you have symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. These could be signs of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. You can read more on ADHD signs and symptoms at NIMH and be sure to talk to a psychiatrist if you have any concerns.

If you found any of these tips for improving your attention span helpful, feel free to comment your thoughts below or share this article with friends. This article may contain affiliate links, for more information visit our disclaimer.

About the Author

Taufiq Alam guest blogger Rose-Minded

Taufiq Ul Alam is a Content Executive at PlatinumLED Therapy Lights. With a knack for health and fitness, he tries to learn new information on athletes every day and share with his reader. He is also a Marketing Major Student at the University of Dhaka.

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