Without a doubt, one of the greatest casualties of the information age has been our attention span. A study released in May 2015 showed that the average concentration span of an adult human had dropped from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to just 8 seconds 15 years later. To put this into some context, humans can now boast an attention span one second shorter than that of a goldfish (whose attention spans are 9 seconds long).1
Our ability to concentrate on the essential is under relentless assault from what I often refer to as weapons of mass distraction. The constant barrage of email, phone calls, mainstream media and social media has conditioned us to constantly switch tasks and split our attention — as much as divided attention is neurologically possible.
Added to this, we have become addicted to unfocused behaviour. According to MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller, every time we complete even insignificant tasks (such as sending an email, answering a text message or uploading something to Facebook), a tiny amount of our body's reward hormone, dopamine, is released. Our brains love dopamine so we're encouraged to keep switching to small tasks that give us instant gratification. This creates a dangerous feedback loop where we begin to feel like we are accomplishing a lot but in fact we are spinning our wheels.2
In a September 2015 tweet, columnist for The Wall Street Journal Jason Gay brilliantly highlighted how normal a constant absorption in technology has become: ‘There's ...