Improve Attention

The best way to improve attention is to practice, but this is something many people just aren’t aware of. Why do you think it is that subsequent generations after TV was invented have more and more trouble paying attention? These days, unless children’s brains are being actively engaged by colors and movement and sound that are hard not to pay attention to, they can’t seem to pay attention to anything for long.

While it’s normal for small children to have some trouble paying attention, the problem is even translating to adults, who can’t focus on something for longer than a few minutes at a time! Learning to improve attention can help you study better, be a better conversationalist, and perform better at work. All it takes to improve attention is some practice.

Think of your attention span like a muscle. The more you work it out, the stronger it’s going to get, and the better it will be able to do its job. You don’t expect to be able to deadlift hundreds of pounds on your first trip to the gym because you have to build up to that point. Likewise, you shouldn’t expect to be able to read a huge novel in one sitting without getting distracted until you’ve trained your “attention muscle” to work more effectively and to be stronger.

There are lots of little ways to improve attention through practice. Here are just a few that you can start trying today:

  • Read in the midst of distractions. One of the reasons that I am able to pay attention to things easily when I want to is that I grew up reading books nearly everywhere – in the car, at my brother’s baseball games, in restaurants, literally anywhere I could get away with it. While I wasn’t thinking about building up my attention span at the time and was just caught up in the stories I loved to read, this did help me improve attention, so that now I’m not easily distracted by background noises or events when I’m reading.

    You, too, can learn to improve attention with this simple trick. Choose a book or magazine that you really love to start with, and start reading it with light distractions – like the TV going in the background or conversation happening around you at a coffee shop. Then, gradually build up to more distracting locations – like a loud restaurant or park – and less engaging material – like a textbook instead of a novel. Over time, you’ll find you can pay attention to what you’re reading, no matter what’s happening in the background, and this can improve attention in general.

  • Improve attention from getting distracted by inner thoughts by consciously practicing setting your thoughts aside. Even though I’m not often distracted by outward stimuli, I am constantly getting distracted by what’s going on inside my own head! In order to improve attention on this level, I practice putting aside other thoughts and worries intentionally.

    If you, too, have trouble paying attention through your other thoughts, consider keeping a list of things to think about later. When a distracting thought comes up, write it down on the list, and set the list aside. In this way, you can sometimes trick your brain into stopping the chatter so that you can focus. Then, if those problems really do need to be dealt with later, you can go back to them when you can really focus on them.

These two simple techniques to improve attention will take some practice, but they’ll also help you increase your attention span so that you can pay attention more easily to everyday things in life.