Around 69 and 79 AD, Emperor Vespasian was building the capitol in Rome. The workers had to move large and heavy columns from the mines to the construction site; a very difficult task that involved the labour of thousands of people at great expense to the emperor.
Alas, a man invented a device for transporting heavy columns at a relatively low cost. He approached the Emperor to advertise his time-efficient and cost-effective invention.
After watching the inventor demonstrate his invention, the emperor was convinced that it had the promise of making the job easier, and cheaper. But he rejected it because it will make people jobless.
The emperor was more concerned about keeping people engaged with work and entertained with contests at the coliseum. This is because when the people are engaged and entertained, it’s easier to keep them under control for political stability. But if he accepted the invention, the people will have less work to do; and their attention could shift to challenging his authority.
The Emperor understood the importance of where people’s attention is. It’s in his best interest to keep the people’s attention under control.
The thought leaders, innovators, captains and entrepreneurs of today and the future are people who have control over their attention and the attention of other people.
For the rest of this video, you will learn why your attention is your most prized possession and why everyone wants it; how your ability to protect and use it to your advantage is a new superpower that will keep you miles ahead of most people. Before we get to it, be sure to subscribe to After School TV for more insightful videos like this.
What is your attention worth?
Attention is a psychological tool we use at any given instance to tune out irrelevant objects or subjects from our environment so that we can focus on what is important to us at that instance. It is the act of opening up ourselves for our environment to open itself up to us.
We trade attention in exchange for mental stimulation, interaction, or revelation. Attention is what makes our time useful, meaningful and valuable.
You may pay money for education and learning, but the important ingredient of learning is not money. Nobody learns anything by paying money. You learn by paying attention. In essence, if someone is offering you a service for free like a video game, an app, social media, search engine, or email, they want something more valuable from you. And that is your attention.
When a gazelle in the jungle loses its ability to pay attention to its environment, it quickly becomes prey to the next available predator. In other words, your attention is your most valuable tool for survival.
That is why everyone and everything is competing for your attention. Your phone and millions of apps, sports entertainment, social media, email, TV, celebrities, salespeople, marketers and advertisers, your neighbour, your pet, your career, your business, your family and relationship, everything and everyone want your attention.
Ultimately, it is what you pay attention to that will determine whether you will have a fulfilling or miserable life. In other words, who you are today is the result of the sum total of what you have paid attention to. Who you’ll become tomorrow will be a result of what you are paying attention to today.
The cost of Poor attention span
The survival of individuals or people depended on where and what they focus attention on. If you don’t consciously decide where your attention goes, someone else will be happy to point you in the direction that benefits them.
According to a study, on average, office worker will check their email 30 times every hour. The average user picks up their phone more than 1,500 times a week; and spends an average of 3 hours, 16 minutes a day on their phone.
According to Herbert Simon an economist and psychologist, “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention”. That is to say, the more information we consume, the less attentive we become to other parts of our life.
Poor attention span creates ignorance, poverty of human interaction, lack of awareness, mental weakness, and poor financial decisions.
When there are many things to focus on, people focus on things for short periods of time. The result is that many people today struggle to start and complete a task excellently without losing focus. They struggle to learn new skills and expertise that will dramatically improve their finances and their lives.
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How to improve your attention
The pandemic of attention deficiency is widespread. Everyone seems to be caught in the web of distraction. It takes doing the extra work to stay focused to outperform everyone else. In fact, if you develop your ability to allocate your attention to where it really matters in your life, you can easily stand out from the crowd.
Here are suggestions to help improve your attention span and focus.
- Evaluate what gets your attention
Each time I notice I’m spending a lot of time on an app on my phone, I delete the app. I’ve deleted games, social media apps. The idea is to slow down momentarily and observe your activities. Spot the ones that are unnecessary and eliminate them.
- Set small goals
The easiest way to get discouraged is to expect big results fast. Focus on the small daily and momentary steps instead. That way you can enjoy the journey rather than be overwhelmed by the destination.
- Make to do lists
Not everyone works with a to-do list, but you may find it helpful to keep you on track with important activities for the day.
Meditation helps calm and concentrate your wandering mind. It doesn’t have to be anything Buddha-like. Meditation is simply an exercise to clear your mind, focus on the present moment, and detach yourself from daily distractions and stress.
- Work out
Researchers and scientists have shown that mental strength improves with physical activity. According to Dr John Ratey, author of “Spark – The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain“, “exercise improves your brain in the short-term by raising your focus for two to three hours afterwards” So a habit of working out will do your attention span some good.
- Form the habit of Memorizing
There has been a debate against the need to memorize anything when you can simply Google it. However, it is scientifically proven that a memorization is a form of brain training that can improve concentration and sharpen our problem-solving skills. This will in turn improve your ability to focus your attention on important tasks.
- Read and Finish what you read
According to research, people read an average of 20% of words on web pages; and will often leave web pages in 10-20 seconds. In other words, most people either don’t read or don’t finish what they start to read. Extensive reading will help focus and improve your attention span.
- Focus your curiosity
The universe of information, headlines, innovation, and trends out there gives you a lot of things to be curious about. And because there are a lot of things that demand our attention, we often distribute attention across many things and focus on them for short periods of time.
To become a master at what you do, you have to focus your curiosity on a few important things. Pick a field or a wave of opportunity and focus your learning, study and even relationships around that.
These days, most people are too lazy to dive deep into anything. Most people can’t acquire the high-value skills and knowledge needed to be a high performer today.
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Anyone who is willing to work on their attention span and the will to learn what others are not willing to learn will stand out from the crowd with ease. Your attention is your most important tool for survival. It’s the most important product the technology, advertising, fashion, entertainment and many other industries are after. You can use it to become the person you desire or you can let others use it for their own gain. It’s totally up to you. Until next time; YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!