Over the recent years, I’ve noticed that I’m having more and more trouble focusing on any task for more than five minutes. Even while writing this blog, I’m caught up in an endless cycle of writing one sentence, going on instagram for a few minutes, then writing one word, watching a 15 minute long youtube video, then going back to work (so on and so on)… Though at first I thought this was my senioritis not being cured for three years after graduating highschool, it was no longer just a joke when I found myself taking hours to write one single paragraph because I wasn’t able to concentrate.
Before hating myself for being a terrible procrastinator with a lack of motivation or self-diagnosing myself with an adult ADHD, I thought it was better to do some research and talk to my friends. And surprisingly, I was not the only one who noticed the change of attention level in recent years!
Living in the post digital era, we simply have too much distraction. All the social media apps on my phone that constantly rings with notification, having a FOMO from all the cool things my friends are up to on instagram, even my spotify recommended list were all causing me to lose my stream of concentration. Not only are various digital apps distracting, but the way these apps are being developed are causing more and more people to lose concentration faster than ever.
I have noticed that as technology develops, app developers are encouraging faster consumption of media. Decades ago, we had various movies to distract us from reality, which ran approximately 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours. After the increase of popularity of netflix, we started consuming TV shows which one episode was around 45 min to an hour. Then more and more people started watching youtube, which one video was around 15 minutes long. Now with the boom of tik tok videos, we consume videos which are only a few seconds long. Like this, the media we consume are gradually becoming shorter and shorter. I’ve noticed that now I find it hard to finish a movie, or even a youtube video in one sitting. Additionally, the few seconds of tiktoks feel guilt free, making us more likely to watch more of them, which at the end adds up to minutes or even hours.
The effect of this is that our brain starts to crave an instant and easy boost of serotonin, instead of taking time and enjoying the full experience. Which, I assume, is one of the reasons why my attention span became literally shorter than a duck.
Due to my decreasing attention span, I naturally considered the possibility of having an ADHD, as my inattentiveness was (or so I thought) was one of the symptoms of ADHD. This was not a change which only I experience. There has been a concerning increase of ADHD diagnosis in recent years. The “society-wide increase in the disorder’s constituent symptoms of inattentiveness, impulsivity and hyperactivity” is making more and more people struggle.
So what is my solution?
Although I still haven’t been to a professional for my lack of attentiveness, I’ve been looking for different ways to keep myself focused on my task. These includes:
- Using apps such as “self control” to block all the websites which are unnecessary.
- Turning off my phone completely. When this doesn’t work, I ask my family member to take my phone away from me for few hours.
- Working in a public space such as cafes and library. I’ve noticed I tend to get less distracted when there are public eyes, and because I spent money on my drink I want to make the most of my time.
What are your experiences of shortened attention span? And what methods do you have to keep yourself focused?