Technological convergence is breaking my brain! I can completely understand and identify with Nicholas Carr in his article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” I am self diagnosed ADD and have always had a difficult time staying focused on tasks that require long periods of time (it’s because I’m a free spirit). With information, communication and technology being so accessible, I find it even more difficult to stay focused. The second I hear a ding, beep or vibrate, my attention immediately shifts to that notification, email or site. It is like the techie version of Pavlov’s dog and we are all salivating!
By allowing ourselves to get distracted by these little things, we are reprogramming ourselves to lose focus in everything. Sometimes when I am reading a book, I find myself scanning the pages for key information, like I do a website, instead of actually reading each line. I have to stop, chastise myself and go back and reread what I missed. And I tend to do this more when I am reading on my Kindle. Bruce Friedman said he has taken on this “staccato” quality of skimming and scanning through long periods of text as well. I believe this kind of reading inhibits our actual retention of what we’re reading. It usually takes time and a half to read something now because I have to go back and read what I missed. Ugh! According to research by James Olds, “The brain has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions.” We have reprogrammed our brains to switch focus the moment a badge icon appears or we hear the ding of our email.
So, what’s a girl to do? According to Dr. Pascale Michelon, here a few ways to improve concentration:
1. Focus on the task at hand: If talking with someone: ask questions; if reading a book or a report: ask yourself how you would summarize what you just read to a friend or to your boss.
2. In general, avoid and/or eliminate distractions. Tune out everything else. The harder the task, the more important it is to tune out distractions.
3. Do not try to double task, this will increase your errors and divide your attention. Attention is limited. When you try to do several things at once, you necessarily have to divide your attention and thus concentrate less on each individual tasks.
4. Use meditation. Several studies have shown that meditation can be a good brain training tool that affects especially attentional/concentration skills.