The Attention Span of a Goldfish

The Attention Span of a Goldfish (Video)

I can’t be the only one who’s struggling right now to be present, remain focused on what’s important to me, and limit time spent mindlessly staring at a screen. Some days, it feels like I have the attention span of a goldfish.

So it seems oddly appropriate that this video from my recent session for Collins Aerospace Leadership Club popped up as a lighthearted reminder to give yourself the gift of undistracted time.

Just how long is the average person’s attention span?

Give yourself a pat on the back if you concentrated long enough to make it through the video!

Full disclosure: I screwed up and inadvertently exaggerated the numbers when I gave that presentation. Still, attention spans were trending downward so in my defense, they may have dipped to seven seconds since the 2015 study! On top of that, COVID-19 has only made life more stressful, unpredictable and anxiety-inducing.

To correct the record, here’s how Time reported on the original story:

Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.

Go ahead and give yourself a high 5 if you guessed correctly.

If you over- or under-estimated, were you wildly optimistic or pessimistic like the people in my workshop?

Now, is it just me, or is anyone else experiencing more of these “attention span of a goldfish” moments recently?

It’s no accident. Smart phones and the apps that proliferate on them are engineered to be addictive. They’re increasingly being designed to hijack our already limited attention spans.

What’s your favorite way to fight back and reclaim your ability to concentrate? Here’s my favorite quick and simple action you can take to make your phone, tablet, or laptop a whole lot less enticing: Set your screen to greyscale, give yourself the gift of less distraction, and fewer goldfish moments.

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