How are a Gorilla, My phone and My Focus Connected?

Gorilla and Focus

 

What do Technology, Focus and a Gorilla have in common?

At first glance, it doesn’t seem they could be related. When it comes to sustained focus, they are more connected than you realize.

A recent report by the Nielsen Company concluded Americans spend nearly half of their waking lives on a screen of some type. We have become a society of individuals reliant on technology – phones, tablets, laptops are both a necessary part of our professional lives and consume much of our pleasure time as well. We spend a great deal of time stimulated by the backlight of devices, a steady stream of information and are scattered with trouble with focus when we need it.

Today’s adolescents and young adults have been raised learning to communicate through texting, through video games and social media.

While there are clear advantages to having information at one’s fingertips to enhance productivity, extended use of screens is a brain-drain, zapping one’s ability to focus, to concentrate and to calm!

Too much screen time can lead to problems with concentration and focus, and multiple devices can lead to inattentional blindness – focusing on one activity such as talking on the phone creates inattention to other stimuli.

Which leads me to gorillas…You may wonder how a gorilla could be invisible?

Well, in a study where participants were asked to count the number of passes made by the team in white uniforms, 42% failed to see a person in a gorilla suit. Just imagine what is being missed when focused on a phone, tablet or computer and how that reduces our ability to learn, to focus and to concentrate.

A constant flow of information from social media, news alerts, websites, emails, texts, even if positive can create overwhelm and possibly missing the gorilla in the room. More importantly, your brain doesn’t have a chance to rest and becomes less productive over time. With the developing brains of kids and adolescents, the effects are more concerning.

The good news is there are ways to mindfully leverage technology use to boost your focus and productivity.

• Begin by using one screen at a time.
• Take frequent breaks, even creating technology free times as part of your day.
• Put your phone and tablet away for the evening and do not bring them into the bedroom!
• Do not sleep with the television on. Eliminate technology use at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

If you want to learn more about ways to improve your focus and productivity, check out our blog about neurofeedback for attention!