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Have you ever sat through a virtual meeting and wondered, “What did we just talk about?”

I know we’ve all been there…the time when a co-worker who’s missed a meeting asked for a quick debrief, but you couldn’t remember.

You may even pause and say, “Hold on, I know this,” followed by a longer pause then a nervous laugh, and you realize that you don’t remember much from that meeting…it all seems like a blur.

What you may or may not realize is that, during that meeting, many intrusions happened. Lingering thoughts, a notification from your phone, a random call that you had to decline, etc.
On top of that, add the distractions that come with working from home. You may be juggling a number of these distractions at any given time: dealing with kids at home due to COVID-19-imposed distant learning, pets competing for your attention, the doorbell ringing, and so on.

According to the University of California, the average person switches tasks or gets interrupted every three minutes and five seconds. These distractions can cause someone to take up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on a task (Schulte, 2015).

The average attention span, according to Microsoft, through the years (2000-2013), has decreased from 12 seconds to a whopping eight. This means that a goldfish that has an attention span of nine seconds may, unfortunately, beat you in a staring contest.

You may be wondering if it’s even possible to stay on task with all these distractions around us in this modern age.

You’re not alone! Don’t give up just yet. The battle to stay on task is possible, but it takes some simple changes to your everyday routine.

The goal is not to eliminate all the distractions but to learn some secrets that productive people use in their daily tasks to be more effective.

Implementing these steps into our routine can significantly improve the state of our mental health. It can allow us to engage in deeper learning, be more productive in the workplace and reduce our anxiety and stress levels while staying connected and fostering successful relationships.

1. Set break reminders

Have you ever tried to make a deadline by waking up early and skipping lunch all to finish a report? Or, have you made it a habit to skip your breaks to keep ahead? Did you know you are wreaking havoc on your attention span?

Many people believe, “I can finish this in less time by not taking a break.” But, taking short breaks is a great secret to finishing work in a shorter time span.

A research study in the Journal of Cognition (2011) reported that, when participants took breaks, they were able to actually return with increased attention. So, go ahead and add a 5-10-minute-break reminder every 50 minutes during your workday.

By choosing to take mini-power breaks, you’ll help your brain to recharge boosting your attention.

2. Recharge with nature

“Why do I even need to go outside, anyway? I am getting recharged right here on my couch.” This is what I hear from clients often struggling with stress, anxiety or depression symptoms.

I get it; I am asking you to get up from a comfy position to exert more energy. It sounds counterproductive, right? But, it is actually one of the best things you can do for your mental health and productivity.

Did you know that one of the preferred recommendations for children with ADHD is getting green time? By taking a stroll around the block, you are recharging your mental batteries and attention span. If you cannot get outside, then try looking out the window at nearby trees, or anything within nature, to give your attention span the boost it needs.

So go ahead and schedule your green time in your calendar. You could simply eat your lunch sitting in your backyard, balcony or at a nearby park to recharge and restore.

3. Change your mental rhythm with exercise

If I reflect on the last few months, I can see the difference in my mental and physical health when I work out versus when I don’t. Exercise is one of those things that is normally the first to go when I get busy.

However, research shows that exercise is a boost for your concentration levels, attention span and great fuel for improved attention. Within private practice, to help clients activate their motivation levels, you can be sure that some type of exercise will be a part of the plan.

Exercise is one of those things that can boost your productivity and overall health, especially if done regularly. So, schedule that fun workout with a friend or a colleague. You can call it ‘productive work time’.

4. Take time to be well with self-care.

Do you wait until you have accomplished your goal to celebrate yourself? Or, do you take the time to celebrate yourself along the way?

Self-care is an intentional process; it’s not something that will just happen. The reality is that, if you do not place yourself on the agenda, who will? How can you save others if you are drowning?

What is something you enjoy that helps you destress? Make a short list of activities that challenge you,
are fun and bring you joy.

Self-care can increase your overall productivity not just at work but in life, too.

How Can STRiVE Mental Health, Wellness & Empowerment Help?

The well-being of your employees is paramount to us.

STRiVE helps organizations develop strategies by providing tools to help employees recover from
burnout and boost productivity. The goal is to provide top-quality evidence-based program development
and workshops, both in person and virtually, while building long-term resilient employees.

We want to help your organization. Contact us at to learn more.

Works cited

Jett, Q.R. & George, J.M., 2003. Work Interrupted: A closer look at the role of interruptions in organizational life. Academy of Management Review, 28, 494–507, Volume 28, p. 494–507.
Keller, A., Meier, L., Elfering, A. & Semmer, N., 2020. Please wait until I am done! Longitudinal effects of work interruptions on employee well-being. Work & Stress, 34(2), 148–167, 34(2), p. 148–167.
Puranik, H., Koopman, J. & Vough, H.C., 2021. Excuse me, do you have a minute? An exploration of the dark- and bright-side effects of daily work interruptions for employee well-being. Journal of Applied Psychology, Issue Advance online publication.
Schulte, B., 2015. Work interruptions can cost you 6 hours a day. An efficiency expert explains how to avoid them. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 June 2021].
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