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The concentration challenge: can you stay focused for 8 seconds?

By Monica Camozzi
6 min read

No, you don’t have the attention span of a goldfish. Win the concentration challenge! 

Have you heard the famous expression, ‘Stay focused’? To reach your goals, concentration is a must. This is very difficult because nowadays, our brain has an attention span of a maximum of 9 seconds before being distracted by emails, notifications, and social media. This information comes directly from Google, who analyzed the algorithm because it uses this data to convert it into money! The average attention threshold of a millennial is 9 seconds, just like a goldfish.

But maintaining concentration while working is a big challenge even for those who are over the millennial age. On average, we experience interruption every 12 minutes of working, and it takes us about 27 minutes to fully regain our concentration! A real obstacle race, indeed. That’s why there are so many apps to help you stay focused, and here we suggest one of the most interesting ones. And keep in mind that these apps are not the only way to win the concentration challenge!  

The concentration challenge: the Pomodoro technique 

Remember the shape of the kitchen timers? Like a Pomodoro (which is an Italian word for tomato). This method is very simple: first, you should set a designated time you want to stay focused, and therefore you set yourself a task to work on. How many times did you get distracted? A phone call, phone notifications, hunger attack, a cigarette, or maybe the need to stretch your legs a bit? None of that is permitted! You’ll have to resist until the end. And to help you do it, there is Forest, the app that goes far beyond the mere timer.

The app is designed to help users ‘stay focused’, and at the same time, to help the planet, even though with a small gesture. 

Forest: concentrate and plant trees (even real ones). 

An app that we really like and that we recommend to you is Forest. Every time you set a goal in the app, you metaphorically plant a tree. The more you focus on the work, the more your tree will grow. But if you fail, you’ll find a skeleton instead of a tree! The amazing thing is that if you keep focused, you’ll help in planting real trees since Forest is a partner of Trees for the Future, an organization that plants real trees!

The app is built in a way that provides sponsorships for planting new trees every day. Forest has so far planted over 730,000 trees. And it has helped to win the concentration challenge countless times.  

The concentration challenge: a gamification 

First of all, when you set the Forest app, you can’t exit it anymore: if you do it before completing the tasks at the pre-set time, you will lose the challenge. You should set the timer according to the concentration-time you need to achieve your goal. 10 minutes of concentration will grow a bush, while 120 minutes – a century-old pine tree! If you abandon the challenge, the plants die, and the feeling is not pleasant at all. So sadistic, you say? No, it’s just a challenge with our mental processes and our increasing disposition to distraction. When we complete the concentration sessions, the plants end up in the app’s virtual forest. At the same time, we can see our friends’ trees, and when you see that they are bigger than yours, your ego will start to hurt! This component makes you involved in the process of playful competition, gamification. 

From virtual trees to real ones!  

From your Forest app profile, you can get a virtual currency not only to decorate your forest with mushrooms, houses, and other niceties but also to get audio tracks to listen to during your working time. When you have purchased all the decorations and audio tracks, you will be able to make virtual money to plant real trees! With 2500 coins, you can “buy” a plant.  

The illusionist technique (David Copperfield lectures) 

In front of you there are 6 different cards. Think about one of them. Just think about it. You don’t have to touch it or click on it. I can find the card in your mind. Just think about it for a while.

Mentalists and illusionists from all over the world have studied the attention techniques in every detail, and it was the American David Copperfield who invented the card trick: you are asked to pick one card and to remember it without saying anything, and then the mentalist makes it disappear as if he or she had read your mind! Magic? Actually, none of the cards that appeared on the first card layout reappeared on the second! But people don’t notice it… It’s a game based on in-depth knowledge of the mind, which is a muscle, and like all the muscles, it must be trained. If you want to do it by yourself, without apps, we can suggest a couple of techniques. The first one is called the heartbeat technique.  

The concentration challenge: the heartbeat technique.  

Before you start working, relax your muscles by concentrating on your heartbeat. After, try to visualize its rhythmic pulse and imagine it pumping blood throughout your body, reaching all the way to your hands and toes. At that point, you should feel a warm sensation: hold the vision for a few minutes and slowly open your eyes.

Then get up calmly and get to work, thereby setting a period of time in which you won’t look at the phone, your mail, or at any notifications.  

Other visualization techniques  

This is probably going to sound crazy, but try to do it anyways. This exercise is one of the visualization techniques that forces you to concentrate and is excellent for those who are trying to study. One of the easiest ways to boost your concentration is to direct your thoughts towards tangible things: your toes, the wall next to you, the colors, etc. Every time you manage to regain control your thoughts; you will regain the concentration. We form about 60,000 thoughts per day, which is one per second! To concentrate, you have to shut down your thinking. There is a very useful technique that can help you with that – the “tangerine” technique.  

The concentration challenge: winning it with “tangerine “ 

This exercise is useful both for your memory and concentration. Imagine holding an imaginary tangerine in your hand and explore its texture, smell, weight, and temperature. Next, pass it over your other hand. Then, with your dominant hand (left hand for left-handed people), bring the tangerine to touch the back of your head. Leave it in that position, it won’t fall because it’s magic! While the tangerine is floating on your head, concentrate on your physical and mental state, and you will undoubtedly become relaxed. Then, imagine expanding your visual field to everything around you. Now you are ready to open your eyes and focus! 

Written by
Monica Camozzi
Journalist since 25 years, copywriter, storyteller, passionate of made in Italy, business adventures and new challenges.
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6 min read

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