We've all been there. We excitedly sit down on the sofa to watch that movie everyone's been talking about and five minutes in we're already scrolling through our phones for some side entertainment. It doesn't matter how good the film is or what gorgeous stars are in it, concentrating on just one thing for an extended period of time has become somewhat of a challenge. In the age when two-minute TikTok videos and Instagram reels have taken over our lives, our attention spans have reduced significantly. But it doesn't have to be this way! There are ways to improve your attention span, which will in turn open up your life in more ways than one.
BrainTap founder and neuroscientist, Dr. Patrick Porter, recently shared with Poosh his top three techniques for improving concentration abilities. These can work in school, college, or even meetings and will be effective for people of all ages. "When your mind begins to wander, and you realize you're not focused, go ahead and look for something that is the color red," he explained. Once you've got your item, return your mind to the speaker. If you begin to wonder again, look for something orange and repeat. This, he said, will help your attention span as brains love patterns. As the time between looking for each color increases, it will become more focused on the situation.
If you're struggling to get through a book without falling asleep or wandering off, Dr. Porter has tips for that too. If you notice you're getting distracted, shut the book and make a note of what page you were on. Look around the room, do some breathing exercises and drink some water. Now, you can return to your book. This helps you to be aware of your subconscious mind and disrupt the wondering pattern. "Once you interrupt the pattern, the brain will expand the time you’re able to read without your attention wandering," he explained.
More generally, when you are interacting with people. Dr. Porter emphasized the importance of focusing on the person speaking. "Try to become aware of how they’re breathing and then start to pace their breathing by breathing in while they’re speaking and breathing out while you’re speaking," he recommended. This will force you to stay aware of the conversation and what they are saying, and prevent you from wandering off.