Attention 2017

ByDr. Marshall

Attention 2017

I have to admit I found another excellent article by Amy Morin this morning. I’ve mentioned her before. She’s the author of the USA TODAY bestseller, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Do. She titled today’s post “7 Ways Productive People Stay Focused.” Although Ms. Morin doesn’t do the research herself, she sure has a knack for finding the most important (and interesting) findings. For example, in this article, she cites a study at Microsoft that found that the average attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds, while the average attention span in 2013 was 8 seconds. Attention span is the amount of time that passes before you become distracted. Incidentally, the attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds, so… .

There isn’t a whole lot you can do about this, because that’s just how our brains work. Through the ages, our brains became very good at recognizing what is new and unexpected, because new and unexpected could signal something dangerous. If you didn’t attend, the consequences could be fatal. So, while it was good to focus on what you were doing, it was even more important to be aware of what was going on around you, because some of those things could kill you.

Ms. Morin then provides seven things we can do to stay focused:

  1. Exercise – 10 hours of aerobic exercise weekly improved those all-important executive functions, which includes attention.
  2. Breaks – take a break every 50 minutes
  3. Music – Listen to classical music.
  4. Avoid Distractions – like email, phone, etc.
  5. Black Tea – contains theanine that increases calmness and relaxation
  6. Meditate – increases sustained attention
  7. Take Green Time – spend time outdoors with trees and other plants

You can read Ms. Morin’s article here.

About the author

Dr. Marshall administrator

Richard Marshall earned an Ed.D. in reading and learning disabilities at West Virginia University in 1982. While completing his doctoral studies he served as an educational specialist in the Pediatric Neurology. Upon completion of his degree he became an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the WVU Medical School. After moving to Florida in 1983, he joined the faculty in the Department of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida and worked for five years in the Neonatal Developmental Follow-Up Program. In 1993, he completed a Ph.D. in School Psychology at the University of Georgia with an emphasis in Child and Adolescent Neuropsychology. Upon degree completion, he taught courses in the biological bases of behavior and neuropsychology at the University of Texas in Austin. He also served as developmental psychologist at the Children’s Hospital of Austin. He and his family returned to Florida in 2001 and he once more became a faculty member at the University of South Florida. He is presently an Associate Professor in the College of Education and he is an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at the USF College of Medicine. In 2008, Dr. Marshall co-authored the Pediatric Behavior Rating Scale; in 2011, he co-authored The Middle School Mind: Growing Pains in Early Adolescent Brains (2011) and is currently revising the Handbook for Raising an Emotionally Healthy Child (2012). In addition to writing and a busy schedule of workshops and presentations, Dr. Marshall also maintains a private practice in Lakeland, Florida where he specializes in the assessment and treatment of children and adults with emotional, behavioral, and learning disorders; parenting; family therapy; and couples counseling. As part of that practice he maintains a daily blog and he co-hosts The Mental Breakdown Podcast (iTunes, Google Play Music, and YouTube) and the Psychreg Podcast. He has spoken to professional and community groups throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and South America.