September 29, 2015

Do Goldfish Have a Longer Attention Span Than You?

The myth of multitasking and what to do about it

Here’s a shocking statistic: A 2013 study, by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, reports the average attention span has fallen to just 8 seconds. It gets worse. The same study says goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds! With all of the interruptions and digital distractions today, it’s no wonder that “on average, workers switched activities every three minutes and five seconds” according to Professor Gloria Mark at UC Irvine. Multitasking isn’t the solution. It just dilutes your focus; but there are ways to balance a deficit of attention.

Optimizing Brainpower
Steelcase research has concluded that striving to be more focused or to log more hours is not the best way to increase productivity. Instead “getting smarter about the brain, and learning how to leverage its capacity to direct our attention” is. Their studies identified three brain modes: focus, inspiration and activation. Creating environments that support these modes is the way to increase productivity.

Office Smarts
Workplaces that support focus include acoustical, visual and psychological boundaries designed to minimize distractions. Quiet spaces, whether fully enclosed or freestanding, such as the Brody WorkLounge, enable users to focus deeply or engage in individual tasks. Social zones in the workplace can help to regenerate and inspire attention-starved staff. A WorkCafe or informal lounge area that invites casual interaction or calm contemplation can inspire new thinking. To be more physically active, furnishings with adjustable height settings allow users to move and change posture, which helps keep the brain stimulated and engaged.

Creating spaces that help occupants think better is a growing movement with distinct competitive advantages. For more information on strategic design and furnishings that promote better thinking, contact your NBS representative today.

For a list of apps, publications, articles and videos that promote and teach how to “think better” at work and at home, visit our Think Better Resource Page.