Trouble concentrating, ADD/ADHD? This one simple change can help increase attention span, naturally.
10 tabs open on the laptop, incessant cell phone checking, social scrolling, texting…all at the same time?! I meekly raise my hand. Yes, that was me until I started noticing what it was doing to my ability to complete a task from start to finish in one sitting and undermining my overall productivity. If you have ADD/ADHD is there anything you can do to increase your attention span, naturally?
If you look at my story, I have had my own mental health journey. It was a long and bumpy road before I found empowerment and took charge of my state of being. I was also diagnosed with ADD at one point in time. Calming my monkey mind was step one, but slowing down and saying sayonara to multi-tasking did wonders for my ability to concentrate, productivity, and overall happiness.
We live in a world of doing and multi-tasking. It used to be something to brag about, but now we are realizing the consequences of pulling our brain in too many directions. Our brain can’t sit still any longer and focus on one thing. Neither can our bodies. There are many reasons behind the rise in ADD/ADHD but there is something we can start with today to begin to train our brain to focus. Commit to seeing a task through, one at a time, the old-fashioned way. Our brain is an organ that functions like a muscle. We can train it to function how we want it to. Many of us trained our brain to function this way and there is much we can do to take back control. At first it feels like you are taming a wild spider monkey, but with consistency, you will notice improvement in your productivity and well being.
I started to take note of how “multi-tasking” was impacting my life. Half done dishes, half folded laundry, half written emails. I was doing things all day but leaving them unfinished had me feeling overwhelmed and frazzled. When I did need to sit down and get something done…it was torture. Don’t worry, the story has a happy ending. With practice, I noticed a measurable difference in my ability to attend and it no longer felt like I was wrestling an alligator when I had to sit through something less than engaging. Our brain may be an organ (a very important one), but it functions like a muscle, so you can train it just like any other muscle!
- Make a list of must-do’s for the following day. When you are doing them, notice when your mind or body pulls you to something else, but carry on with what you are doing until you finish.
- Do you tend to procrastinate? Do the hard thing first. Whatever is weighing on you, get it done first thing in the morning and move on.
- Do whatever you are doing fully and mindfully. Folding laundry might not give you goosebumps but it’s not as miserable when you notice the soft fabric and experience the benefit of a drawer full of unwrinkled shirts and matching socks.
- Resist the urge to check your phone or set times that you will. Q: What are you going to miss? A: Your real life if you are glued to a device all day.
- Have your kids do this with you. Help them to notice how it feels to see a task through to completion. Make checklists and let them check off what they have completed, and resist the urge to give them too many to-do’s at once.
- Set a “doing” timer and stay focused on the task at hand until the timer goes off.
- If you have several tasks to tackle, do one at a time and work in a fun brain/movement break between each.
- Say NO. If you don’t have time to take it on, it’s okay to decline. There is no shame in guarding your well being.
This article in ADDitude magazine also has some great tips on how you can increase your attention span and avoid multtasking.
Consider what you need to accomplish today. How will you and your family be the ultimate indistractable ninjas?
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Stephanie Cantu holds a master’s degree in Education and is the Founder of Happy Spots by Empowered Minds, an active mindfulness and recovery program for youth. At Happy Spots, we are about creating our own joy and inspiration no matter what is happening in our environment, and helping kids do the same.