Training Your Attention Span

By Brittany Stinocher

Adding social media to a non-profit can strengthen the organization’s brand. At the same time, managing social media platforms can contribute to one being overwhelmed and distracted.

In 2013, studies found that humans had an attention span of 8 seconds. In comparison, a gold fish has an attention span of 9 seconds. According to Beth Kanter’s Blog, attention span is the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted. It comes as no surprise that attention spans have decreased over the past years, as social media, mobile phones, and online information have flooded mankind.

The invention of sharing content on social media platforms is accelerating the problem. Our mobile phones make it worse, because now we can check the Internet, anywhere and anytime.images

For example, that thought pops in your head, “Before I create this report I’m just going to check my email or Facebook.” A few hours later you find yourself having crafted a boring introductory paragraph for the report, while you liked and commented on several of your friends Facebook posts.

Attention is essential in the non-profit working sector. Your attention is one of your most valuable assets, therefore to train your attention you have to redesign the way you work. Here are useful tips that work to redesign your attention:

1)  Design Your Work Flow To Align With Your Body’s Rhythm: Don’t write lists, rather design your work day to be full of energy and focus. Try to block out about four 90-120 minute time blocks with 10-20 minute breaks (for a brief walk) in between.

2) Accept Your Limits: Don’t believe that you can accomplish everything if you just work long, long hours.  If you have 8-10 hour day, you can realistically get four big segments of work completed.

3) Timing Social Networking Usage: Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not at random throughout your day. Try engaging in Facebook or Twitter after your lunch walk or when waiting in a line to clock out at the end of each day. Checking your email should be done during a specific part of your day as well in order to avoid your temptation to reply to everyone in your inbox.

Don’t allow for social media platforms to be weapons of mass destruction, train your attention and redesign the way you work!



Brittany Stinocher is a junior at the University of Iowa who is studying Journalism & Mass Communication and currently working on receiving a certificate in Fundraising & Philanthropy Communication. She is very passionate about the nonprofit world and hopes to someday work for a nonprofit sports organization.


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