What is Your Attention Span?
To maintain my law license I am required to take 30 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE’s) to keep up on recent changes in the law. I was watching a CLE video where I heard something interesting.
The instructor in that CLE video said, the average person with average concentration and an average attention span hears only about 60% of all the words that are said to them and they retain only about 10% of what they hear. Therefore, they learn only about 6% (60/10) of what they hear.
That discussion reminded me of something else I heard about concentrations time periods and attention spans and the Green Bay Packers.
There was a series on television from NFL Films about pro football teams called “A Football Life”. There was a two part episode about the Green Bay Packers in the 1960’s and Coach Vince Lombardi entitled “A Football Life’: How Vince Lombardi saved the Packers franchise.”
Jerry Kramer, the NFL Hall of Fame football player who played the guard position on offensive line for the Green Bay Packers teams in the 1960’s shares a story about being yelled at by coach Vince Lombardi, the coach of the Green Bay Packers at the time. When Coach Lombardi was yelling at Jerry for doing something incorrectly in practice or a game Jerry would frequently be “checking his shoeshine.” Or in other words, sitting there looking down at his feet and being discouraged.
Coach Lombardi caused Jerry Kramer to check his shoeshine because he was not concentrating on what he was doing.
In one incident during practice, Coach Lombardi said to Jerry Kramer:
“Mr., the concentration period of a college student is 5 minutes, high school is 3 minutes and kindergarten is 30 seconds, you don’t even have that, so where does that put you?”VINCE LOMBARDI SPOKEN TO JERRY KRAMER
That incident caused Jerry Kramer to go into the locker room and “check his shoeshine.”
Get additional insights on concentration time periods and attention span from the Out There on the Edge of Everything® Podcast.
“So what is your concentration time period? What is your attention span?”Stephen Lesavich, PhD
Are Coach Lombardi’s time periods still accurate? Where they accurate in the 1960’s when he made the assertions?
Your attention span includes your concentration time period. An “attention span” is defined as “a length of concentration time during which an individual is able to remain interested in learning or completing a given task.”
According to one study using a specific type of psychological test, the longest attention span measured of anyone using that test was: 4 minutes and 52 seconds. So Coach Lombardi’s assertion about the concentration period of a college student being 5 minutes appears to be fairly accurate, assuming the person measured in that study was a college student.
However, according to another recent study, the average attention span of a Millennial (someone born between 1981-1996), many of which were college students at one time, is approximately 8 seconds.
People with a short attention span have trouble focusing on tasks for any length of time without being easily distracted.
According to Healthline “a short attention span can have a number negative effects, including:
- poor performance at work or school
- inability to complete daily tasks
- missing important details or information
- communication difficulties in relationships
- poor health related to neglect and the inability to practice healthy habits”
So what techniques can you use to improve your attention span?
Healthline suggests the following to improve your attention span:
- “chewing gum
- staying hydrated
- taking written notes with a pen or pencil
Chewing gum appears to increase alertness and lower stress to help you improve your attention span for a very short time.
Dehydration quickly impairs your ability to focus. So drinking water and staying hydrated is important to allow to focus.
Regular exercising, even take a brief walk on a regular basis, helps you reset your thought patterns.
According to Healthline, “studies have shown that taking notes by hand is more effective in improving attention and listening than using a laptop or other electronic device such as a cell phone, which can be distracting.”
Also according to Healthline, “other studies have shown that meditation can improve focus, and that practicing meditation on a regular basis leads to improvements in sustained attention.”
There many other methods you can use to improve your attention span and concentration time period.
Increasing your attention span and your concentration period helps make a positive impact in your life.
Out There on the Edge of Everything®…
Stephen Lesavich, PhD
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Certified solution-focused life coach and experienced business coach.