For many of us, it’s not natural or easy to pay attention to one thing for a long period. Thanks to technology, exciting information has never been more available—and with more of us working from home than ever, it’s not hard to find a (sometimes welcome) distraction.
Even if you feel focused, your brain isn’t engaged with the present task all the time. According to a Harvard study, people spend 47% of their waking hours zoned out or distracted.
While a wandering mind can boost your creativity, it’s not all that helpful for focus. When you can’t pay attention, you’ll end up with a growing to-do list and more mistakes on the work you do manage to get done. Fortunately, with a bit of strategy, you can rebuild your attention span for increased productivity and effectiveness in work and life.
Wondering how to increase your attention span? Start with these five science-backed tips for heightened focus and productivity.
1. Stop Multitasking
If you’re anything like me, then it’s hard not to multitask. Whether you’re switching between email and drafting a presentation or reading a work-related article with your Zoom tab open, you’re neither fully “here” nor “there.”
And unfortunately, while you may feel you’re accomplishing more when you furiously pivot activities, you’re risking getting less done. Here’s why: Toggling tasks divides your attention, so you’re contributing less to each task. You’re also more likely to commit errors when you’re not fully focused on one thing at a time.
Just as importantly, you pay a cognitive “penalty,” wasting time and energy each time you switch modes. Think of your cognitive energy—your thinking mind—as a resource. Each time you change your focus, you deplete the resource, which means you’re paying less attention to your projects and tasks in both the short- and long-term.
So, if you’re struggling to increase your attention span, close all unnecessary tabs—whether on your browser or in your brain—while you focus on just one task. Your work and mind will be better for it.
2. Remove Distractions
Your environment affects your attention span more than you think. So, if you’re struggling to hunker down and pay attention to what’s in front of you, try removing whatever’s distracting you. You’ll not only be able to focus more on the task at hand, but you’ll also be less likely to multitask when you don’t have the option to.
That could mean putting on headphones while you work to drown out other noise or committing to keep your email browser closed until the job is complete. It might also mean deleting social media apps and turning off notifications on your phone while you’re attempting to get something important done. Or better yet, put your phone in another room altogether. Studies show having a phone nearby in the same room can be distracting.
3. Take Care of Your Body
Have you ever noticed it’s far tougher to pay attention to something for a long time when you physically aren’t at your peak? Personally, during busy or intense times at work, I aim to prioritize a good night’s sleep, regular exercise, meditation, and nutrition. I’ve found all these things make my brain feel sharper, which in turn allows me to pay better attention to people, tasks, and projects.
There’s plenty of scientific evidence that taking care of our bodies directly impacts our brains. For example, one study shows even short bursts of moderate exercise can improve cognitive control (in other words, one’s ability to focus).
A restful night of sleep also makes a huge difference. Scientists have found that sleep deprivation can impact an individual’s memory, ability to perform simple daily tasks, and yes, their attention span.
Moral of the story: If your mind doesn’t seem on par, start by nurturing your body. You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll also work better.
4. Play a Game
You can also have a bit of fun building up your “brain muscles” to increase your attention span over time. Evidence shows games that work your memory and require focus, such as sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, word searches, or memory games, can improve concentration skills.
As with exercise, you can reap the benefits of concentrating on a game in a short period of time. The study suggests simply spending 15 minutes a day, five days a week on brain-training activities (like the above games) is enough to make a difference. Plus, you’ll gain problem-solving skills along the way, which will also serve you at work!
And good news for video gamers: One 2018 study found evidence that an hour of gaming can help people pay attention to specific tasks while ignoring distractions.
5. Play the Right Music
Sometimes, noise can be distracting when you’re trying to do deep work. But the right noise — specifically, music — can pack a big punch in your ability to pay attention to the things that matter. Prime example: classical symphonies.
One study at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that listening to short symphonies engages parts of the brain involved with paying attention and memory. Interestingly, your brain benefits most from the short breaks between music, so try to listen to a playlist or radio station on your favorite streaming app to build your attention span.
6. Practice Meditation
Meditation doesn’t only benefit your mental health, but it also helps to improve your focus. As you meditate on something, you’re training your attention span and, over time, it will expand. Think of meditation like weight training for your brain. The more you do, the more you’ll be able to focus!
One study showed that while healthy practices like a nutritious diet may help improve focus, meditation has even more power to increase attention span. In the study, students at the University of California-Santa Barbara who practiced mindfulness and meditation for just 10 to 20 minutes, four times a week ended up scoring higher on memory tests and activities requiring attention.
Not used to meditation? I wasn’t either until recently. Try downloading an app like Headspace or Calm to build meditation and brain exercise into your routine. Just make sure to keep your phone out of sight when you’re working.
7. Restructure Your Work Day
I’ve found that the longer and more boring my workday is, the more tempted I am to veer off into another headspace (or, honestly, log onto social media). That’s why I’m intentional about breaking up my work time into smaller chunks. When I have breaks to look forward to, I can give my undivided attention to whatever it is I need to. It’s like telling my brain “Just thirty more minutes.”
The evidence isn’t just anecdotal. Studies are showing that if you want to improve your ability to pay attention, you should divide your workday into less intimidating, more manageable chunks while taking regular breaks.
There seems to be a sweet spot for productivity. According to one study, the top 10 percent of workers focused intensely on average for 52 minutes before taking a 17-minute break. So, if you’re having a difficult time paying attention, try working for 45-60 minutes at a time, then building in a 15-20 minute break between each work slot.
As you minimize distractions and get into a routine that keeps you focused, you’ll not only accomplish more (and better) work—chances are, you’ll also find yourself enjoying what you do.
Learning how to increase your attention span requires great effort at first, especially since you’re already struggling to pay attention in the first place. However, with the right mindset and discipline, and by following these 7 steps, you will improve and eventually master your focus and increase your attention span.
More Tips on Incrasing Your Attention Span
The success of our day is largely dependent on the quality of our planning. Not to miss out anything in their to-dos, some people prefer to make a list of upcoming tasks in a notebook, while others have long started using digital technology solutions.
Calendar applications are some of the main tools that are worth using to organize our life and plan your time carefully.
Many people have switched to specific tools; however, there are still some who do not use calendars on a daily basis. They may find some applications uncomfortable to use, non-functional, or expensive.
In this article, we are going to check out the best calendars apps to help you stay organized.
Before You Download
As you are no doubt aware, there are all kinds of calendar apps available. Instead of you sifting through the hundreds of them, we’ve handpicked 10 of the best calendar apps you can get. On top of glowing reviews from each one, we’ve considered the following aspects when creating this list:
- User Interface – How you navigate the app should be smooth and simple. The buttons on the app should be clear, obvious and easy to move through.
- Synchronization – Whether it’s with other calendar apps or with other apps, syncing apps should be easy and enhance your overall experience with the app.
- Additional features – Since there are so many options for calendars, many of these apps offer additional features. These features make the apps stand out from the other apps and provide unique experiences to you.
1. Any.do Calendar
This calendar has direct integration with Any.Do To-Do List, which gives you a unique tandem of two applications.
Apart from its extended functionality, Cal Calendar is easy to use. The creation of events is very simple and fast.
What is more, depending on the name of the event, the application automatically adds contacts and geolocation data to the entry description. You can even import your lists and entries from Any.do.
Any.do Calendar is a great option for any type of user. It is very convenient and doesn’t overcomplicate the mode of display.
Another good thing is that this tool is available for free, so you can use it without spending a dime for the software.
2. Google Calendar
Google Calendar is the official calendar for Android devices that has been tested out by many users around the globe. If you are right now trying to get away from it, consider changing your mind.
Since this application is installed on most Android devices by default, many users think that there is nothing special in this program. They are wrong.
Google has been updating its calendar for quite a few years, and now it comes in Material Design with advanced event features, direct integration into other Google services (for example, supports reminders and Google Now), and comes with Exchange support.
The program is super easy and will not cost a dime for you. It is a good thing, right?
Calendar is a relatively new app. It works as a web app and for both iOS and Android devices. It is an intelligent app that learns your contacts, schedule and tasks. It also helps you schedule and arrange meetings according to your available time slots.
A good thing about Calendar is that it allows you to sync up with other calendars you use such as Apple Calendar and Google Calendar. And so you can manage all the calendars you have in one place.
Calendar also gives you analytics of your meetings, giving you a clear picture on how you can improve your time management.
4. Business Calendar
Business Calendar is geared towards people who use their calendar for work purposes and business task planning. It offers different modes with wide configuration capabilities.
The application gives a default view mode by months, and events can be marked in different colors. Display modes/ sorting can be adjusted to your needs (by month, day, year, or events).
You can also set a multi-day viewing mode to see how things look for the next few days. Scrolling up and down moves you by month, and if you check a few days, they will be shown in a more detailed form.
The day display mode offers hourly scheduling, and the schedule mode provides a detailed schedule for a single event.
Business Calendar is a great tool for planning/ scheduling cases, tasks, and events. There is a support for recurring events, which can be set up in just a few clicks.
Having purchased software, you can use it to import and export other calendars, delete, copy, or move several events at the same time.
Android Business Calendar application may seem somewhat chaotic, but it works fine and is easy to work with if you play with it for a while.
A full version of the application is available for $4.99, but you can also find a free version for the app test drive.
aCalendar opens our collection of top 10 calendar applications available on the market today. With its appealing design, easy navigation, and great functionality, it is one of the most popular calendar apps in our list.
Some of extra functions include color schemes for each case type (48 colors to choose from), different types of demonstrations, different widgets, moon phases, and much more.
Taking into account it functionality, aCalendar is a reliable calendar application that has an easy-to-navigate interface with three display options. Scrolling from side to side allows you to switch between the display modes of the month, week and day.
When scrolling down and up, you are moving through the calendar at intervals in accordance with the selected display mode.
Apart from its time planning feature, aCalendar synchronizes photos from contact lists or social networks to remind you about birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special dates.
The program also supports data transfer through NFC and full-screen widgets, which eases your work with any data.
The program is available for free, but you can also get even more features if you buy the extended version of software for $4.99.
6. DigiCal Calendar
DigiCal Calendar is very similar to Cal Calendar in the fact that the application focuses on design more than on its functionality. However, this doesn’t mean that the application doesn’t serve the purpose.
With this calendar application, you can synchronize all your calendars and view them in different ways.
Along with the basic functions, this program comes with support for Google Calendar, Outlook, and includes some unique and interesting features. You can match keywords to the image or set up a dark theme.
The app can even show you the weather forecast for three days. There are many other features that deserve the attention of people who really like to use calendar applications.
SolCalendar can be called a universal application. It claims to be an all-in-one digital solution having a basic calendar functionality combined with some other advanced features, such as weather forecast for a specific day.
The application supports Google Calendar, as well as tasks, widgets, lunar calendar and even Foursquare.
Those searching for a calendar application to cover just everything in its functionality, SolCalendar is a program to consider. There are a lot of interesting things in this application; the program does an excellent job working in “all-in-one” mode.
Test SolCalendar – the application is available for free. You can test it out without purchasing the service.
8. IRL Event Social Network
One of the most unique apps on this list is the IRL Event Social Network app. As you can guess from the name, the core focus of this app is social networking. Unlike other social media platforms, you can consider this platform to function similar to Meetup.com. It’s a site where you can connect with other people within your area that share a similar interest.
IRL is that while also providing a convenient calendar for you to schedule events and plan out your day. Though due to it being a secondary focus, you’re lacking a lot of the syncing aspects that other apps have on this list. Regardless, because of this huge social feature, it’s worth considering for those who want to make more connections.
9. Today Calendar
Today Calendar is one of the most hip and edgy calendars in our list. The solution was one of the first ones that really embraced Material Design and remains one of the few that adhere to the neat style.
The calendar application offers bold colors, simple controls, and great functionality. This is not as heavy an application as many others; it will not eat all the memory of your device.
If you are not searching for something complicated and over-functional, Today Calendar is what you need. You can always test the application before paying for it – the program is available for free.
Timepage is an intuitive calendar app that will manage your time in a way that other calendar apps can’t. It offers the same sort of functions that you’d expect from other calendar apps: opportunities to record events, notifications and reminders, weather, and driving duration to a particular event. However, the app goes beyond those functionalities in two ways.
The first way is that while the app sends you notifications, it also has reminders for you for what is coming up next. That bit of extra time can allow you to prepare and make adjustments to your day if need be.
The second function – which is more important – is the heat map when you go to see the full view of your calendar. This heat map indicates what days you are most busy and other days where you are freer. This heat map provides a quick glance to determine broadly what days are good to add more events and other tasks.
Searching for the right application to manage your various calendars and plan your busy day can sometimes turn into a streak of obstacles.
Most of us need flexible applications that can be easily used to manage our tough schedule. The application should have all necessary time planning functions and be intuitive.
Stylish design and limitless compatibility also matter. It is not always easy to find such a program.
The above digital calendar solutions fall under the category “worth” of being used. They are modern, multifunctional, easy, and easy. Pick the one you like!