Goldfish can now concentrate for longer than the average human

Gold Fish

How often do you fight to concentrate on your to-do list? The inability to concentrate has plagued our generation – so much so – that Microsoft carried out a study to figure out whether our tech addiction has shaped our cognitive ability. Microsoft, in their 2015 study, found that since 2000, the year of the mobile revolution, the average attention span has decreased from 12 to 8 seconds. Meaning that an ill-focused goldfish now has a longer attention span than the average human.

Why can’t we concentrate?

We are addicted to new information. The speed of internet gives us access to a multitude of instant information. Cognitive phycologist, Daniel J Levitin claims that on average we are taking in information equivalent to the content of 175 newspapers, every day. Absorbing new information is not bad for us. The issue lies with our obsession to multitask this new information. How many browsers do you have open right now? How many times have you checked your emails, Whatsapp or Facebook whilst carrying out another task? Multitasking is our norm and here is why we need to stop doing it.

What the goldfish don’t want you to know

Multitasking is the misconception that we can manage various tasks simultaneously. What we are actually doing is switching our focus from task to task, very quickly. When we quickly switch between tasks we use our brains oxygenated, glucose source.  This causes a “brain drain” and makes us feel drowsy and disorientated. Does the “what was I just doing” thought sound familiar? In addition, over using our brains oxygenated glucose source causes our bodies to release the stress hormone, cortisol. This hormone makes us feel anxious and hinders our ability to make rational decisions. In essence, multitasking is about as productive as deciding to get drunk and go to work.

Why we need to be aware of the multitasking trap

Our pre-frontal cortex, has a “novelty bias” meaning that it sends reward chemicals (Dopamine) to various parts of the brain when it receives shiny new information. For example, when we get distracted by phone alerts or Facebook notifications –our brain is rewarded for receiving this new information. We, however, are left distracted from the task at hand. Due to our digital multitasking obsession, our brains are now hooked on higher levels of Dopamine. This means our brains crave distractions more than ever before. What can we do? The best thing we can do is be aware of why we are so easily distracted i.e our brain craving Dopamine and not because the shiny new information is more relevant than the task at hand. So, instead of instantly reaching for our phones when an alert sounds we should rationalise which task is more important – the present task – or the phone alert. By training our brains to tolerate lower levels of Dopamine we can start to become a less distracted generation!

To read more of Daniel J Levitin’s research – you can purchase his book here

This article used the helpful research provided by the BBC, in their article – Why Can’t I concentrate, found here

Image curtesy of Benson Kua on flickr Benson Kua – flickr the image has not been amended.

Written by on behalf of PCA Law

Increase happiness and success will follow

Happiness & Success

It’s a fact. The happier and more positive you are, the more successful you become, both personally and professionally. Positive phycologist Shawn Anchor, has become one of the worlds leading experts on the connection between happiness and success. His research has captivated the attention of many top CEO’s and here is why…

Anchor’s research revealed that happiness isn’t ancillary to success, instead happiness generates your success and even influences the success of those around you.

The happiness data

Through several studies, Anchor analysed our brains performance when we feel happy and when we feel sad. Quite simply, when the brain is happy it releases the hormone dopamine. This hormone has various effects on our brain however something special happens when we are in working conditions. Dopamine increases our ability to absorb information and adapt to challenges. Significantly Anchor’s research found a;

  • 31% increase in productivity
  • 37% increase in sales
  • 40% higher likelihood of promotion
  • 3 x increase in identifying solutions to problems

“Happiness is actually one of the greatest competitive advantages in the modern economy”, argues Anchor, this is because, he continues, entrepreneurs with a positive mindset embody the characteristics of leaders and are typically more creative, driven and personable. Furthermore, happiness in a workspace is contagious. Positive leaders can influence their colleagues to adopt a positive mindset and in turn generate increased business success.

Is happiness for everyone?

There is strong support for the argument that happiness is a choice. Many people believe that they are genetically predisposed to being happy or unhappy, whilst others believe their happiness is contingent on environmental factors. However, research shows that 90% of our happiness is determined by how we, individually, view the world with only 10% predicted by external factors.

Steps to increased happiness.

Anchor suggests three ways to start incorporating positivity into you, your life and your career. He advises  choosing only one of the ways listed below and implementing it everyday for 21 consecutive days.

  1. List three things you are grateful for every morning. By looking at the positives in your life, the brain builds new thinking channels to turn pessimists into optimists.
  2. Write down one meaningful experience. Each day reflect on the last 24 hours and jot down a meaningful experience and why. This will increase a better sense of self-awareness and encourage the brain to understand where you find happiness.
  3. Spend two minutes a day thanking someone in your support network that has helped you in some way. Anchor suggests picking a different person each day. Your brain will start to realise how much  support you have which in turn will increase your confidence and happiness.

This articles used the helpful information published by Huffpost Business, in their blog post titled, The Business Case for Being Really, Really Happy.

Find out more about Shawn Anchor here.

For help or guidance on how a career coach can change the mindset of you and your team read here.

Written by on behalf of PCA Law

Microlearning is the future and here is why you need to get involved

Micro Learning

Why microlearning is huge (no pun intended…)

Microlearning is an emergant learning strategy that is transforming the way we educate ourselves and grow our businesses. Microlearning offers digestable, focused content (typically 3-5mins or shorter) designed to meet very specific learning objectives. Why is this method of learning sending the business world into a tizzy? Because people actually REMEMBER what they have been taught after microlearning.  The key issue is that conventional learning strategies do not encourage retention; employees typically forget 80% of training after 30 days. Microlearning crucially recognises that giving learners large chunks of content – with the expectation that it can be fully absorbed – is counterproductive. We are not robots.

The microlearning study

Researchers at Dresden University of Technology in Germany released a study that compared whether learners answered follow up questions better when they a) watched many small pieces of content and answered many corresponding questions, or b) when they watched big chunks of content and saw few assessment sections.

The results were as follows

  • The small content group took 28% less time to answer their assessment questions AND did 20% better than the chunky content group.
  • The chunky content group actually had to re-read more than 3x the number of sections in comparison to the small content group.
  • Overall, across three scoring measures, the study indicates that small content drives over 20% more information retention.

The results are crystal clear. Microlearning is a much more productive way to deliver content. Not only does microlearning influence higher knowledge retention it also increases efficiency during the learning process.

Why should microlearning matter to me?

By 2025, millennial’s will become 75% of the global workforce. The average attention span of the Millennial generation is 90 seconds. Microlearning is MADE for this generation and businesses need to be prepared for the “millennial arrival” in their establishments. There is no time like the present. Please see here for useful tips on how to create your own millennial microlearning content.

This article used the helpful information published by Grovo in their useful blog on microlearning which you can find here

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