This article first appeared on www.fastcompany.com
8 Quick ways to improve your attention span
We spend half of our waking hours with wandering minds. Here are 8 easy things you can do to regain your focus.
If your mind tends to wander, you’re not alone. Turns out, human brains are in the moment for just over half of our waking hours—a sad 53%—according to a study from Harvard University. The other 47% of the time we’re zoned out, thinking of something else. Unfortunately, mind wandering can happen at the wrong moment—like when your boss is giving a presentation and asks you a question.
If you’d like to increase your attention span and focus for more than half of your day, there are eight easy things you can do:
Meditation is one of the best ways to improve your focus, as it is the mental training of your attention. Similar to the effect weight lifting has on your muscles, meditation trains your brain stay at attention for longer periods of time. In a study done at the University of California at Santa Barbara, undergraduate students who took a mindfulness class and meditated for 10 to 20 minutes four times a week for two weeks scored higher on memory tests and exercises requiring attention than students who changed their nutrition and focused on healthy eating as a way to boost brain power.
Exercise doesn’t just improve your physical fitness; it increases your focus, and a short brisk walk will do. A study from the University of Illinois found that physical activity increases cognitive control. Students with ADHD who participated in 20 minutes of moderate exercise were able to pay attention longer and scored better on academic achievement tests, especially in the area of reading comprehension.