22 Sep 2023

The ‘Attention Crisis’: why we’ve lost the ability to focus…and how you can find your flow!

Distraction is something we all wrestle with – even the most motivated among us. It can strike during a conversation, leaving you adrift in thought…or when you sit down to tackle an essential task, only to find yourself lost in hours of internet scrolling.

In “Stolen Focus,” Johann Hari warns of a crisis in our attention spans. Over the past fifteen years, our focus has dwindled from 12 seconds in 2000 to a mere 8.25 seconds in 2015. What’s more, distractions can linger, clouding your thinking for up to half an hour.

The root of the problem lies in our digital world. Countless personal devices, apps, games, and chat platforms clamour for our attention, making it challenging to devote ourselves to those “deep-thinking” tasks requiring prolonged concentration. It’s not by chance; these platforms are designed to ensnare you, employing tactics like the “negativity bias” to undermine any of your efforts at time management. Social media, in particular, thrives on negativity, prompting endless scrolling and stealing your productivity time.

These apps and platforms are engineered to divert your focus from where it truly matters.

Why should we focus on combating distraction?

Consider the impact of distraction on you. Think about how distraction makes you feel…

Satisfied? Productive? Calm?


More likely: Dissatisfied, unproductive and wound up or anxious.

Doing something while your mind is elsewhere means you won’t do it well and won’t really enjoy it either. So it’s typically a lose-lose situation 🙁

The consequences of misplaced attention ripple through various aspects of our lives, preventing us from starting (and finishing) what matters most. In the workplace, this can translate into distracted, disengaged and unproductive employees.

But the blame doesn’t rest with employees or employers; these distractions are purpose-built to hijack our focus. Take for example, the ‘infinite scroll’, a simple app feature designed in 2006 which has turned the use of social media into an addiction that we all fight.

The creator of the infinite scroll, Aza Raskin, admits he feels guilty about inventing it. And he now campaigns against predatory social media practices, demanding that technology be used as a force for good. Raskin rarely uses social media; before posting, he always asks himself: What are you feeling and why are you posting?

That became a practice for me. When I post something, who am I being in that moment? Which version of me am I being? Am I being my centered compassionate version of myself? Nine times out ten, when I slowed down and asked which version of me I was being when I was using any of the social media products, I didn’t like the answer. That was enough really to get me to stop. 

So what can we do to reclaim our attention and find our flow?

The solution lies in AWARENESS and ACTION. Here are three top tips:

  1. Reflect on your personal ‘demons’ of distraction. Take a moment to think about what’s diverted your attention recently. When was the last time you got distracted and why? Are you reading this with multiple tabs open, planning dinner, managing bedtime routines, and pondering tomorrow’s work tasks?
  2. Stop multitasking: Trying to juggle a bunch of things at once messes up your focus and stops you from giving your all to any one thing.
  3. Embrace monotasking: Tackle one thing at a time, give it your full attention, and put all your effort into it before moving on to the next. This way, everything gets your full focus and best effort.

Do you or your employees need help finding your flow? Well, you’re in luck because Understood is here to help! Our training courses will help your employees to have a better, more focussed (and more satisfying) experience in the workplace. Contact us today for more information.