The average goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds — the average person on-line, just 8 seconds… Read on for my 5 Ways to become a Top Fish and get those Smarts back!
We now live in the extreme present — The future is already here and happening faster than we can imagine.
We need however to recognise the noise as noise and see the world for what it is — But how can we do that with those mobile devices and their filters that over the past few years we’ve come so totally to rely on?
Indeed, 46% of smartphone users in the US admit they couldn’t live without them.
‘Electric Cocaine’ is how Dr Peter Whybrow, Director of Neuroscience at UCLA refers to screens, and here’s some of the reasons why…
- Currently in the UK we check our mobile phones on average 221 times a day — or once every 4.3 minutes
- Whilst recent studies have found that Americans collectively check their smartphones upwards of 9 billion times per day, which is up 13% from 2015
- And globally that figure rises to somewhere north of 80 billion times per day, and some reports suggest the average person touches their phone 2617 times a day!
- We also spend over 9 hours every day on some form of smart device, be that a laptop, tablet or smart phone, and that’s more than the average person spends asleep every night
But why so?
It’s not all about making calls or to get news, that’s more of a by-product.
One reason may be that more & more people are using their phones & tablets for financial transactions.
I believe when you look at some of the stats however it’s more to do with updating our status on Facebook, sharing tweets with our followers on Twitter, uploading our videos onto YouTube, ensuring that our LinkedIn profile is all singing and all dancing, and checking ourselves and everyone else out on Instagram.
For example Re Facebook
- In the US the average Facebook user spends over 50 minutes a day checking and updating their status, mostly using a mobile phone
- 23% of Facebook users globally check their Account at least 5 times a day
- Whilst 30% of American adults do also rely on Facebook to get their news
- Twitter has 310 million users every month, and a total of 1.3 billion active accounts
- 83% of world leaders are on Twitter, &
- And 80% of users worldwide access the site via their mobile phone
- 1 billion unique visitors are watching over 6 billion hours of video each month, &
- 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
- LinkedIn has 470 million members world wide and is adding on a further 2 new members every second; &
- Over 30 billion photographs are already hosted on the site and a mind-bending 70 million pictures are shared every day, excluding video content, between the 400–500 million active users with over 30% of these based in the US, &
- It is predicted that by the end of 2017, 51.8% of social media users will be on Instagram
And then of course there’s also Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr, Reddit, Snapchat & Whats App etc etc all vying for our attention and time.
Life is complex, highly complex
Whatever is driving this behavior though, the bottom line is we live in an interconnected, interdependent, inter-related world — an era of unprecedented connectivity.
By 2020 there will be 50 billion connected devices worldwide.
Smartphones have become a ubiquitous global presence and having one can put the world and all the information we can access at our fingertips.
We can be constantly connected to faraway friends, endless entertainment, check the weather from our bed — even trade stocks, and gossip while stuck in traffic.
We can browse potential romantic partners between appointments, make online purchases while standing in-store, and live-stream each others’ experiences, in real time, from opposite sides of the globe.
And whilst just a decade ago, this state of constant connection would have been inconceivable, today it is seemingly indispensable…
But this isn’t necessarily making us any smarter
In fact, far from it!
A recent study conducted by the University of Texas, Austin, found that cognitive capacity and overall brain power were significantly reduced when a smartphone was within glancing distance — even if it was turned off and face down!
Researchers found that participants in the study who left their smartphone in another room while taking a test to gauge attentional control and cognitive processes demonstrated a significantly improved ability to hold and process data.
And even those who kept their phones in a pocket or bag also outperformed those who kept their phones on the desk while taking the same test.
None of this should surprise us though
We are all slaves to a screen both in our own time and in our work time.
An office worker checks their email 30–40 times an hour and the knowledge that we have an unread message in our Inbox can reduce our effective IQ in real time by +10%.
Meanwhile the average employee spends just 11 minutes on a task before switching, and a Fortune 500 CEO’s day is so chopped up by emails and meetings, that they only have 28 uninterrupted minutes a day.
So what can we do about it?
Well here’s my 5 Ways to become a Top Fish & get those Smarts back:
- Get Out & Start Talking: When you’re out and about, & whether in a professional or a social setting, stop using your phone as a sort of pacifier, a security blanket, or a way of avoiding eye contact — Be bold and start reaching out and engaging again with good old fashioned f2f conversations — and start smiling more too, believe me its infectious
- When Texting Text: To riff on the Zen proverb, ‘When Walking Walk…’, quite simply when texting in public don’t do it mindlessly whilst walking along a busy road, oblivious to everything and everyone around you — Pay Attention in the present moment and give full Attention to what you are doing — It could even save your life!
- Kick Your Phone Out of Bed: It’s not a good sleeping partner and bad, interrupted sleep is never a good thing — Consciously choosing to keep your phone close during the night won’t allow you to fully relax and get the kind of deep sleep that is so important to restore, refresh and reset both body and mind — So instead leave the phone in another room before retiring and create your own nightly power down zone
- Limit All Screen Time: As I suggest in this piece giving my ‘7 Top Mindful Living Hacks’ you can be even more Rad and just do different when it comes to how you use any screen time — whether it be with a mobile phone, laptop or tablet — STOP and then rethink your current customs and practices — Things don’t have to be the way they are and with some small changes you could win yourself some real ‘You’ time back, just by deliberately acting to quieten the constant chatter, commotion and distractions ; &
- Try Going Naked: No, I’m not suggesting you start undressing in public and risk arrest, but I do want you to very seriously think about going outside your normal comfort zone — So, next time on a journey try to go from A-to-B without using your phone — Find yourself short of a fact, rediscover your local library, renew your membership and embark on a voyage of discovery— Also review the number of Apps you currently have on your phone, are they all necessary? If not have a judicious spring clean — And remember, single tasking can be far more effective than multi-tasking.
Paul Mudd is the author of ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’ available on Amazon and www.bookboon.com; the ‘Coffee & A Cup of Mindfulness’ and the ‘Mindful Hacks For Mindful Living & Mindful Working’ series. He is also a Contributing Author to The Huffington Post and a Contributing Writer to Thrive Global. Through The Mudd Partnership he works with business leaders, organisations and individuals in support of change, leadership excellence, business growth, organistional and individual wellbeing and well doing, and introducing Mindfulness. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow the continuing journey uncovering Mindfulness on Twitter @TheMindfulBook and at @Paul_Mudd