Author: Victoria Cohen

Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity

Our professional development book club recently shared our insights on “Attention Span” by Gloria Mark.

This book dove into the anatomy of attention, the underlying forces of distraction, and strategies for achieving focus, rhythm, and balance. As we discussed and reflected on the book, three main takeaways stood out. These takeaways shed light on the challenges we face in managing our attention and provide valuable insights for navigating the digital age.

1. Control your attention, rather than letting your attention control you

We live in a stimulus-oriented society, where our attention is pulled in multiple directions, often hindering our ability to stay focused on important tasks. The prevalence of workplace distractions, such as never-ending emails, phone calls, and social media can all drain our mental energy. The book sheds light on the concept of automatic processing, which occurs when we engage in familiar tasks. It becomes evident that we have become more stimulus-oriented than goal-oriented. By recognizing attention traps like framing errors, attention wandering, and the lure of social media, we can regain control over our attention and channel it more effectively.


Here are some methods our team uses to better control their attention:

  • Don’t mistake the immediate for the important
  • Turn off or reduce notifications on your cell phone or other media devices
  • Be mindful of how you’re spending your time – is it contributing to your goal, or are you getting distracted with mindless activities to pass time?

2. Multitasking may be slowing you down

Contrary to popular belief, multitasking hinders productivity rather than enhancing it. Our attention spans have declined over the years, primarily due to multitasking and the demands of an “always on” society. The author provided evidence that if you are working on two or more tasks that require deep focus, performance and attention are often negatively impacted. However, if you are doing a focused task as well as a mindless activity such as listening to music, there is little to no negative effect on your attention. The book stresses the importance of focusing deeply on a chosen task for sustained periods. By understanding the consequences of constant interruption and learning to prioritize important tasks over urgent tasks, we can combat the detrimental effects of multitasking and improve our productivity.

3. Balance can make you more productive and achieve a healthier mindset

We feel like we have to optimize our time to pack in as much as possible, rather, we should be focusing on achieving our highest possible wellbeing. In the quest for controlling our attention, the author introduced strategies to achieve focus, rhythm, and balance in our lives. She emphasized the need to reframe our relationship with digital devices, shifting from maximizing productivity to maintaining a healthy psychological balance. Taking breaks with easy tasks can help replenish our mental resources, so when we return to work, we’re able to focus better and feel less stressed. When you consistently replenish your mental resources, you will become more productive as a byproduct.

Here are some helpful ways you can achieve focus, rhythm and balance:

  • Set boundaries
  • Incorporate deliberate breaks throughout your day
  • Engage in activities that promote flow

Wha strategies do you use to achieve balance in your personal & professional life?

Share it with us here!

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