Teacher pointing at whiteboard in classroom

How to Fix a Short Attention Span: Regaining Focus

Are you struggling with a short attention span and finding it difficult to focus? Listen in as we discuss this growing issue with Dr. Mary Streit, a licensed psychologist and full-time faculty member in the Department of Psychology at National University. We explore the significant decrease in average attention spans over the past few decades and examine the role of new technology, particularly cell phones, in this decline. Dr. Streit shares her insights on how our dependence on technology has become an addiction and offers practical tips for improving focus and concentration.

As we continue our conversation with Dr. Streit, we discuss the negative impacts of screen time on our brains and the development of our executive functions. With the average adult spending six to eight hours a day on screens, it's no wonder our ability to concentrate has taken a hit. From the pitfalls of multitasking to the importance of being fully present in our daily lives, we explore ways to combat the detrimental effects of technology on our attention spans and overall well-being.

Finally, we dive into the importance of developing discipline and focus in our daily lives. Dr. Streit shares her expertise on the benefits of breaking tasks into smaller pieces, taking breaks, and creating an environment conducive to focus and productivity. Whether you're a student, a working professional, or simply someone looking to improve your attention span, this episode is packed with invaluable insights and practical tips that can help you regain control over your focus and concentration. Don't miss out on this enlightening discussion with Dr. Mary Streit.

Show Notes

  • 0:10:16 - Screen Time's Negative Impacts (74 Seconds)
  • 0:19:15 - Improving Focus and Study Habits (87 Seconds)
  • 0:26:44 - Increasing Focus and Productivity (137 Seconds)
  • 0:32:43 - Advice to Increase Attention and Focus (69 Seconds)

0:00:01 - Announcer

You are listening to the National University Podcast. 

0:00:10 - Kimberly King

Hello, I'm Kimberly King. Welcome to the National University Podcast, where we offer a holistic approach to student support, well-being and success- the whole human education. We put passion into practice by offering accessible, achievable higher education to lifelong learners. Today, we're talking about how to fix a short attention span. Claims of a supposed attention war have seen new technology blamed for a decline in our ability to concentrate. According to multiple global surveys, our average attention span is down to 45 seconds. We'll get some tips on how to stay focused and concentrate. On today's episode we're discussing habits and study tips, plus recent changes of focus and attention in the general population. Joining us is Dr. Mary Streit. 

Dr. Streit is a full-time faculty member in the Department of Psychology at North Central University, where she teaches a wide variety of courses in the general psychology track and both the master's and doctoral level. She's been teaching in psychology for more than 20 years for both traditional on-ground and fully online universities. In addition to her teaching, she is a licensed psychologist in the state of New York, where she's responsible for conducting psychological tests and evaluations and providing wellness and work-life balance counseling. As a researcher, she has published and presented numerous articles on a wide variety of topics, including auditory integration, training, facilitated communication, time management, human resource management, goal setting and teamwork, social facilitation, work-life balance, diversity, online teaching and, most recently, sustainability and remote employment. She's written and developed many new courses, including social psychology research design, and was involved in the development of an innovative new approach to teaching online which makes use of student and faculty video exchanges, and we welcome Dr. Streit to the podcast. How are you? 

0:02:16 - Dr. Streit

Hey, thank you so much for having me today, really happy and excited to be here. It's always nice to talk a little bit more about some of my interests and some of the research and the work that we've been doing at National University. 

0:02:31 - Kimberly King

Well, thank you for being here. Your background is quite impressive, and why don't you fill our audience in a little bit on your mission and your work before we get to today's show? 

0:02:41 - Dr. Streit

Sure, I think you know. I remember a couple of years ago being asked to write a little blog about why do you teach? Like, what are you doing this for? What's your purpose? And I think the main reason why I really am passionate about doing that here at National, in our department, is because we are really helping non-traditional adult students, students who probably would struggle to have to go to a more traditional classroom, students who maybe it's a long commute, maybe they're working full time, they have children that they need to care for, they have parents they need to care for, they're doing a lot. They're single parents a lot of them, you know they really have a lot on their plate, but they're also really motivated to do more and to be successful and to achieve And they're so hardworking and so dedicated. So I'm really passionate about supporting them and being educated. 

I came from a family of immigrants. 

My grandmother actually came over from Ireland at the age of 19 on a boat. And she knew nobody, she knew nothing, and she came here and she worked so hard and worked her way up and raised seven children And both family members. 

I mean, they're just so hardworking. But the one thing they always instilled in us was the value of education and how important that is in helping you to get to a different level in the world and to kind of pull yourself up to that next plane of existence and functioning. And my father also was a psychologist and a professor at one point in his career. He was more of a clinician though, but he was a strong believer in education, especially for women, and he said that it's one thing you'll always have, that no one can ever take away from you, and I thought that was, you know, really profound. So I was really always raised with that as being such an important part of who I am And the mission of giving back and kind of helping other people to be able to get that education so they can pull themselves up and to leave a legacy for their children as well. 

0:04:58 - Kimberly King

So important. I love your passion And what I really love is that your history is rich in your family from talking about your grandmother and how important it is that she really came here on her own and at such a young age. So that's so great And you can see how it translates into what you do today. So thank you for sharing that. 

0:05:19 - Dr. Streit

She had nine brothers. So she said it was either stay in Ireland and keep taking care of them and doing all the housework, or come to America and maybe have a different future for her. 

0:05:28 - Kimberly King

Oh, my goodness. 

0:05:28 - Dr. Streit

She's a very strong, independent woman. 

0:05:30 - Kimberly King

I love that. Wow, you should write a book and it should be all about your grandmother and how she's inspired you. I love that. So today we're talking about how to fix a short attention span, and I feel like it's getting worse and worse with the technology and, just, I guess, the older we get right. So, Dr. Streit, how has the average attention span changed in the general population in recent years And, if so, how and why and in what way? 

0:05:58 - Dr. Streit

Yeah well, your hunch is right on target. Unfortunately, the news is not very good. The average attention span has decreased significantly in the past few decades. For example, in 2004, it was about two and a half minutes, which, if you think about that's really not a lot. That's not very good. And then it just kept getting worse. In 2012, it was just a little over a minute. It's like a minute 15 around there, less than half of what it was in 2004. And in the past five to six years it's actually gone down even more. So it's hovering around 40, 45 seconds. Think about that 40 to 45, less than a minute is the average attention span for most adults in the United States, and you know what I'm interjecting this? 

0:06:53 - Kimberly King

Because now I have kids that are in their 20s, now early 20s, so they probably were in middle school when they first got a cell phone. And the way that social media works. It's like you really have 30 seconds to get that point across and then swipe, swipe, swipe or scroll up. But even when you're talking to them just from a journalism background, my kids always said you talk too much, you ask too many questions and it's probably because of that short attention span and 45 seconds is nothing. 

0:07:26 - Dr. Streit

No, it really is not, and you're right that the cell phones are a huge, huge problem. 

They're really it's the screen time, but I think the cell phone is really the biggest culprit there. Some people say they're just distractor boxes, that's what they call them, and it was funny because I was thinking about what I was going to say today. One last night I was trying to talk to my son and he was on his phone the whole time and I'm like I'm trying to talk to you, can you put your phone away? He's like, oh, I'm just playing a chess game. I'm like, no, you need to put it down and you need to be present, you need to be in the moment. 

So why is this happening? Why is it so hard for us to put these phones down and put them away? It's because there's a lot of evidence that our brains release a chemical, something called dopamine, which is responsible for feeling good. It stimulates a part of our brain that is responsible for a lot of addictions, believe it or not. So you'll get like a little message and you'll get to hear a little ding. You know you'll feel your phone vibrate or something and everyone gets all excited. Oh, it's something new, it's something exciting and it stimulates that good feeling. 

But the problem is it's stimulating the addiction pathways in our brain. It's not the ones that actually lead to long-term happiness and contentment. It's feeling addictions and those type of reward pathways in our brains. So we want it to happen, and we want it to happen again and again, and again and again. And I think the even bigger problem is that the marketing people who are running big business, they're very well aware that this is going on and they are taking full advantage of this. So you know, and I think for most people it can seem very innocent at first. I'm on my phone, I'm just playing a game, but over time, it leads to these. You need more and you need more time and you need more of this dopamine and more of this, just like any addiction, and it can lead to things like online shopping, which I definitely haven't been able to close. Sometimes people say so much so, where they associate Amazon packages with dopamine. 

It's kind of like the adults' Christmas when they see the Amazon packages outside their door and things like that. But it can be problematic where you're spending and then all of a sudden at the end of the month they're like wait, how much money do I spend? It's not good or gambling or just spending a lot of time on like social media or other platforms. You can kind of like the great time suck. You can lose large chunks of your time and it's problematic. So if you ever left your phone at home, for example, or you couldn't find it, I don't know if you've ever had that happen. 

0:10:21 - Kimberly King

Oh, I have, And you're all. You just feel empty, like, oh my gosh, I just forgot what night, the most important thing in my life. You know, I need to go back and get my phone. Everybody's trying to get old of me, you know, and you just and it's unfortunate, it should be something we do, maybe once a week just to try to wean us, you know, wean ourselves off of that, but we do have such a dependence. And then, as you're mentioning the social media and playing games, just getting likes, you know, on the Instagram or Facebook or whatever, and it's so. It is addictive, and especially for the kids that have grown up with that. And then you mentioned, you know, as your son was, you were having the conversation. So is multitasking also part of that short attention span? Is that sort of something? I know women seem, you know we tend to be multitaskers, but it's in a different way because it's really in your neurological. Yeah, I was going to talk about that in a little bit. 

0:11:18 - Dr. Streit

But yeah, it's definitely not ideal to be multitasking. Everyone seems to think, oh, it's so great, look at me, I'm multitasking, I'm doing all these things at one time. And the problem with multitasking is you're not doing those things well And your attention and your focus is divided And, believe it or not, that actually causes a lot of stress on your body, psychologically and also in your brain, because it's like you're being asked to do too many things at once. I've had those days where I'm like, nope, I've got to stop and I've got a prayer day, so what am I going to do? I'm just going to do it and try to do one thing at a time. It's actually to your benefit to do it that way. I think it's part of the time urgency that we're all feeling, that we need to kind of get everything done so quickly. 

But in our rush to get everything done so quickly, we actually end up losing time and efficiency. So I'd like to make an analogy to I don't know if you've ever been in traffic and there's somebody who's like right on your bumper and they're trying to get around you and they're in such a rush and then you're like, ok, go around me, go ahead. And you see them racing and weaving in and out of traffic and you're like, oh, my goodness. And then you roll up right next to them at the light, at the red light, and it's like what are you doing? It's the same thing, like they're putting themselves through so much stress and anxiety and pressure and they wind up in the same place. And it's really to their attachment. So you want to just take your time, try to do one thing at a time and do as best as you can in the time you have, but try not to put so much stress and pressure on yourself, to get it all done. I love that analogy. 

It works out in the opposite way usually, where it even takes you more time, more stress, more anxiety, and it doesn't work. 

0:13:20 - Kimberly King

No, I think that's a great analogy with the traffic and that just happened to me yesterday and I was like, really all of that. And you know, it's just. You know we want to live with as less stress as we can, but you know, i have to write everything down now because I'm older, but I just want to make sure I think what my dopamine is is seeing that check mark, oh, I completed this. This is great. And you know, seeing as many check marks on my to-do list, you know. But throughout the day, and that gives me so much joy because and now I'm learning that, yes, I cannot multitask like I used to, so I love so. Thank you, I heard you loud and clear, yeah. 

0:13:59 - Dr. Streit

And you know what. You're probably selling yourself a little short and saying that you know you have to write things down and your brain isn't what it used to be. You're probably that way because you're trying to do more things than you have in the past. So it's kind of like your mental capacity is being taxed and we're being pushed and pushed, and pushed and pushed, and I think a lot of that too is the amount of time we're spending on screens. Here's a statistic that I read just to kind of hit it home a little bit. So, according to the CDC, children as young as between two to four years of age are spending, on average, two and a half hours on screen every day. 

Two to four years old. 

0:14:44 - Kimberly King

Oh, that breaks my heart. 

0:14:45 - Dr. Streit

Five and eight year olds three hours, and eight to 12 year olds five hours. Oh, yeah, yeah, just think about that. And the concerning thing to me here is that we don't really know the long term effects that this has on our brains and how our brains develop. Because they're being taught to pay attention to their screens more, and the part of the brain that's being affected is something called the executive function, which is in charge of decision making, setting priorities and kind of teaching the brain what to focus on. So they're being taught, their brains are being taught. At a very young age, you got to pay attention to these screens in the screen time. At the average adult it's somewhere between six to eight hours. 

0:15:28 - Kimberly King

I was just going to ask you which and that's probably on the low end I would have especially with, since the pandemic, when we were all trained to be on our screen. So those children two to four, you know young children, that's sort of that was what was standard for them is to be paying attention to those screens, yeah, and besides work, the number two activity where we're spending all of our time is on screens and the cell phone is the biggest one, and that's a little bit sad. 

0:15:57 - Dr. Streit

We know a lot. Lori Santos has the Happiness Lab. She talks a lot about happiness and well-being. And we know that we get happiness from our relationships and connections with other people and in doing things and actually engaging in activities. So what is that saying about the happiness outcome? Here, we're going in the wrong direction. 

0:16:19 - Kimberly King

I mean, and then you look at, yeah, with the addiction rate and suicide and just, and it's getting younger and younger. And then now with AI, and people are feeling like that's their friend or you know, trying to overcompensate for somebody that's missing in their life or something. It is sad to me. I feel blessed that, you know. When I was younger we went outside and played or we were involved in you know, all kinds of activities sports and theater. 

0:16:47 - Dr. Streit

You didn't have cell phones when I was a kid. Right, I'm right there with you. Yeah, and we would go out and play and we'd be gone for hours .And and I remember being called back in and we'd be like, please, one more hour. Right, we don't want to go back inside, we want to play. 

0:17:05 - Kimberly King

It goes in the graveyard, yeah. 

0:17:08 - Dr. Streit

It's just such a different world now. 

0:17:11 - Kimberly King

It is. 

0:17:13 - Dr. Streit

It's not all bad. I mean there are some good that can come from it, but in terms of our ability to focus and pay attention and avoid distraction, it's definitely becoming more and more problematic. And if you want to find out, you can actually look in your phone and it tells you. I think in settings it can tell you the amount of time that you're spending on average. And if you want to try to, you know, set a goal that try to maybe limit it two to four hours max per day and see if you can whittle it down and try to, you know, turn your phone off or leave it home or, you know, have a no cell phone day in your, in your family, or something along those lines. And what you're going to find is you're going to all kind of looking at each other and like, now, what do we do? 

0:17:58 - Kimberly King

And I love that. And just really quickly, we have to take a break in a moment. but you know, I have seen a lot of restaurants now that say, put your cell phone up at the front and have a conversation and enjoy it, you know, organically, and I think what a great idea because those conversations and being with people and, you know, just not being distracted, as you say, you know it's a good and I love it, and it's going to only benefit, like, your relationships and your mental health and also your physical health. 

0:18:27 - Dr. Streit

You're probably going to be moving and doing more active. You know activities that involves you to actually move, so it's all good for you. So I think, just like anything in life, you want to have it in moderation and work to kind of be in charge of it instead of having it be in charge of you. 

0:18:44 - Kimberly King

Oh, I love that. Great advice. This is a great conversation, really interesting information, but we have to take a quick break. We'll have more in a minute. Don't go away. And now back to our interview with Dr. Mary Streit, and we're talking about habits and study tips, plus attention span shortening, and this has been fascinating, and we've been talking the first half really about multitasking and just how technology has made such a difference in this short attention span. Dr., what, if anything, can we do differently to improve our ability to focus, pay attention, study, what are some of your tips? 

0:19:25 - Dr. Streit

Well, there's so many different things that we're still learning about. 

You know how to do things differently or better. One thing, for example, is to actually try to memorize some things that are important to you, instead of going to Google for everything. 

Google is creating digital amnesia in people, or something that we call the Google effect, where people are less likely to memorize or commit information to memory because they can just Google it. So we're very adaptive human beings and we're kind of cognitive misers. We want to try to save as much energy and time as we can. So we're like well, why should I spend time memorizing something if I can just Google it? And the reason is because it allows you to really have a depth of understanding of a topic, and it also allows you to connect it to other topics and to be creative and to look for patterns or themes or and to make other connections. And unfortunately, our brain is learning to disregard information that we find online, which is kind of interesting, because of this Google effect. And every time we use Google and we look something up, the less likely we are to retain what we see long-term. 

0:20:49 - Kimberly King

That's so interesting, yeah, no, I mean, and I'm a big proponent of writing things down that's just the old school me, you know and be back in the day if I see it, and then I can see the way I wrote it, rather than seeing it off of a computer or something, and I still kind of do that. but I wonder my mom passed from Alzheimer's and I wonder, you know that rate seems to be going up, higher and higher, and probably because you know we're not really exercising our brain the way we used to think about your grandmother and I'd look back and put a hard worker she was and she knew what she wanted and boom, she was so young and she attained her goals, but it just seems, and she didn't have Google to do it for her. 

0:21:27 - Dr. Streit

Yeah, I mean, I think it could also be that we're living longer in general and there are more and more people who are living, I think, where you know the census report. They're actually, you know, measuring people in their 90s or in the hundreds and above, and they've never done that before. So that could be a part of it as well. But I think you know these issues with not committing things to memory. I think it's more of a younger generation kind of thing, but my generation we had to memorize all kinds of facts and I remember my eighth grade English teacher. 

We had to memorize poems by Shakespeare, we had to do, and I could probably still recite them for you right now. 

0:22:03 - Kimberly King

Yeah right. 

0:22:04 - Dr. Streit

But that's not something that is really commonly encountered, as often today it's very, very different. 

0:22:11 - Kimberly King

You know what? Yeah, okay, I'm sorry, go ahead because I know there are a few others, but I love that memorization. 

0:22:17 - Dr. Streit

The other thing is trying not to switch your attention and focus, kind of like what you're talking about before. With multitasking, there's something called a switch cost when you switch from one subject to another and it actually takes you a decent amount of time to kind of get back on track and kind of pick up where you left off and to figure out what you were thinking and, kind of, you know, get back to your mindset as to where you are. So what you want to do here is you want to really set a time where you're going to do things like answer emails or phone calls or attend meetings, and try to block these times off that they're kind of, you know, sequentially in the same ballpark, so, for example, in the mornings you would do that and then don't get back to everyone right away. Another thing that I've done is I've turned the little bell off on my email so. 

I used to hear the little like I'm getting another email and I'd be doing something and part of my brain would hear it and then want to go and see what it was about. That's multitasking, that's distraction and that's going to lead to that switch cost where you then go back and you answer that email and then you completely forget where you're at and it's going to take you a lot more time and effort and energy to get back and to be successful in completing what you're doing. So you know that's the kind of thing. And then you want to block off greater periods of time. If you're trying to do something that requires more thought or more creativity, like I was just creating a new course in cognitive Psychology that's going to take a little bit more time and effort and energy, so I would block off larger periods of time and I would turn my phone off. You know things like that. You know. Really set yourself up for success, create that environment Where you're not going to get distracted, you know, and you're not going to be struggling to pay attention. And then also you want to take breaks, like you just took a break before. That's good, because you can get burnt out otherwise. 

Too much on the brain. Too much effort and energy and trying to focus and pay attention cn actually cause you to be less focused and less likely to pay attention. For example, if you're ever been in back-to-back meetings, yeah, at some point they're not effective or not efficient anymore And you may be there but you're not there mentally and you're kind of just zoned out. So you want to take breaks, but do it strategically. Do it when you're kind of in a good stopping point and you feel like you kind of made progress and you're okay with it. You know, I think that's. That's part of that. 

0:25:00 - Kimberly King

You know, I and I so appreciate you saying this all out loud. It seems so very practical, but it's just not something that we think about turning off the ding. You know that. But you're right, that is such a distraction and you're like, oh, i better go check. You know What was that email that came in? but also the back-to-back meetings. I was just talking about that last night with a girlfriend of mine and I had a job- Brief job. We're in administration and it just felt like all we did was meet, meet, meet and there was no action. You didn't have time to catch up and actually implement what you were meeting about, and that just drove me crazy. You have to see the action behind that. So that's all great advice. 

0:25:40 - Dr. Streit

Yeah, I don't know if I would have lasted long in the job, like that I know it was so frustrating. 

0:25:45 - Kimberly King

What are some recommended study habits and tips for students to be used on the based on research findings? 

0:25:54 - Dr. Streit

Yeah, so those are just a couple of things I was talking about already. And then also for students who are maybe struggling with their ability to focus or to just, you know, get started, maybe set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and say, okay, I'm just gonna do this for 10 or 15 minutes and then after that time I'm gonna stop and see how I'm doing and really make sure you stop and see how you're doing. And if you're still feeling like I'm not really in this 100%, maybe do another time or 10 or 15 minutes more and see if you can get things going and get it started. And if at that point you can't, then maybe you need to stop and try again another day. But I think sometimes for people it's tough to get things started and they're like, oh, I really don't want to do this now and You know, and it's, you know, a lot of discipline and self-regulation. It's kind of like, in psychology is a famous study, the marshmallow study. 

Where he would tell the kids in the room you need to have a marshmallow now, or if you wait five or ten minutes, you can have two when I come back, and what he found was that the kids who took it right away usually didn't do as well Long-term in terms of their ability to focus and pay attention and actually to be successful in life, and the kids who were able to kind of delay that gratification and be a little bit more disciplined Here it better. 

But what he also found is this is something you can learn and you can teach and you can do. Well, you can learn and you can teach and you can develop in yourself kind of like a muscle. So start small and kind of build that and I think that's really, really good advice. 

0:27:25 - Kimberly King

The art of the reward kind of thing with that marshmallow. I like that. I'm sorry, I was just gonna jump in - cramming is bad - Yeah cramming isn't new. 

0:27:36 - Dr. Streit

No, I remember as an undergraduate I had taken a physics exam, and it was from seven to ten at night, and then I had an exam the next morning at 8 am. What I had to do was read the entire book? For my psychology testing and assessment course in one evening. 

So I can continue to stay up the whole night and try to cram all this in, and I took the exam at 8 am. I don't know how I managed to do that. And I did okay, but I probably didn't retain any information long term from all that cramming. So that's something It's called mass versus distributed practice. You want to do a little bit at a time. You want to be the turtle. You don't want to be the hare. The turtle wins the race. You want to try to do a little bit every day. 

So even if you do just an hour a day and try to break down your work into smaller tasks Like maybe Monday you'll go and you'll check in and you'll see what is your assignment for the week, and then that's all you'll do on Monday and that's okay. You're gonna kind of build momentum. And then on Tuesday you're gonna go in and then maybe you'll download a couple of readings and you'll read them. You might even wanna print them out too, because there is something called the digital detriment, where when you're reading online you're actually less likely to retain that information long-term versus if you're reading it in print. So that's something that is, I think, of real interest to our students, and it's particularly true under timed conditions. So when you're feeling like pressured or stressed, it's something to really think about. You might wanna print out some of the articles and then have them and take them with you. 

Our brains actually remember information better when it's on print. It's less visually demanding, it's less distracting, because there's a lot of things going on as well A lot of times, and you're also able to remember the physical location of certain words or phrases, and then you can kind of flip back and forth to things a lot easier when it's in print than when it's online. So this is pretty new information that we're learning about right now. So I tell my students that you might wanna print some of your stuff out and have it available to you. Now, if it's a book, you might wanna actually order the book. It depends on what it is And, of course, it depends on how much it costs you. But if it's something that you're probably gonna use for your career long-term, I think it's definitely worthwhile to have the actual book. 

0:30:18 - Kimberly King

It really makes a difference. Yeah, that is interesting. And I wonder, like they say, just being up at night and sitting in bed before you turn the lights off, just having the light from the computer, and that's for your eyesight but also for your brain. Now it sounds like too. Maybe that has something to do with it. 

0:30:35 - Dr. Streit

Yeah, it stimulates your brain and it kind of teaches you, especially if you're like ever watching something like I at one point went through. I would watch Netflix that night before I was going to sleep. That's really like the worst thing to do. It stimulates your brain and it kind of teaches you and it associates being awake with being in your bed, and that's not what you wanna do. So if you're gonna do that, you should go out on the couch or go somewhere else and not the try to associate sleep with being in your bed, because otherwise you could start to have insomnia and other things like that which are definitely gonna be disruptive to everything in your life, not just your study habits, yeah, And that kind of leads me to the next question too, just about your area of study or work. 

0:31:20 - Kimberly King

What would you say about that going to besides setting a timer, but being in a specific zone or area, like in your house or your library? 

0:31:32 - Dr. Streit

That's a really good point. Some of the research I've been doing on people who work remotely actually has been really suggesting that if you have a designated workspace and if it can be a separate office, that's even better if you're able to do that, because you can kind of shut the door there and you have a boundary around that space and you can say, okay, I'm done, and just kind of turn that off. Otherwise, I think the temptation is to roll over in the middle of the night if it's in your room, for example, and what was that email about? And no, no, no, no, no. That's very, very bad and very disruptive and very unhealthy. 

And trying to have some kind of routine: know when you're working at your peak. Most people it's usually in the morning and around 10 or 11, and then also in the afternoon, two or three sometimes. So really know yourself. Some people are the larks, the morning people you know who you are. And then there's also the owls, the night owls, who are more kind of awakened alert in the evening. So I think you want to try to, if you can, plan your day out according to when you are at your peak or when your brain seems to work best. 

0:32:43 - Kimberly King

That's great. That's great advice. And probably goes to the best advice you have for anyone to increase their attention and focus. I think that being on a schedule and being in that specific designated workspace, that's great advice. Is there anything else? 

0:33:00 - Dr. Streit

I think, at the end of the day, like I think we're talking a little bit at the break, there are only so many hours for us to get and we have to just say you know what I can do this tomorrow, You know, and I did this for today and that's good, And just check that off your box and say I did that And then leave it And have a good stopping point. But don't try to do it all in a day. I was just reading a really good book by James Clear. It's called Atomic Habits. I don't know if you've heard of it. Yeah, I have heard of it. 

He talks about just this that we need to just try to do little things and create these habits, like maybe 15 minutes a day as a start, and then, over time, build and make them longer, And I think that's really helpful, especially for all of us who are trying to do so many things. And the other thing I think is I was recently listening to a podcast by Michelle Obama and she was talking to Oprah. And she was saying that she used to think that she could have it all And she still thinks she does. She can, but not all at once. 

And I think that's the question, and I think that's the key, because I feel like sometimes we're being pulled in so many different directions And it's really tough to try to tune everything out and to stay focused on what you want, not what everyone else is doing and what they're all focusing on, and focus on what you want And the one thing. The final concluding thought is stay off of social media. If you can Just get rid of it completely And you will be so much healthier and happier in every single way, shape or form. It really is all the research, all the data. 

0:34:52 - Kimberly King

It's just really really bad for you. And it's so funny that you say that. I mean, it is true. I think we are learning that now People have kids, have FOMO, fear of missing out on everything, or just you know, you're always looking and comparing. But even some of the creators of the social media platforms, they would they say I will never let my kids be on that. So really, what did you just create here? And now you're realizing the damage that's been done. 

0:35:19 - Dr. Streit

Yeah, because, at the end of the day, if you think about it, if you're on social media and you're doing it for likes, is it really going to make you happy? You're doing it to gain the approval and validation of other people, and the one person that should really matter the most at the end of the day is your own validation of yourself and what you're doing, and that's, I think, a huge problem, And that's why we have a lot of unhappiness. 

0:35:45 - Kimberly King

Really great points, and you have your atomic habits, it sounds like, and I really appreciate how practical they are. So thank you, thank you for your time. 

0:35:55 - Dr. Streit

I have my own issues I have to work on too. Trust me, I'm not perfect And no one is at the end of the day, and I think that's a good takeaway that we all need to hear. 

0:36:05 - Kimberly King

No, that is true And forgive ourselves. You know it's true, we're not perfect, but just, you know, trying to get that every day. If you want more information, you can visit National University's website at nu.edu. And Dr. we look forward to your next visit. Thank you so much. 

0:36:22 - Dr. Streit

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. 

0:36:27 - Kimberly King

You've been listening to the National University Podcast. for updates on future or past guests, visit us at nu.edu. You can also follow us on social media. Thanks for listening.

Show Quotables

"The average attention span has decreased significantly in the past few decades." - Mary Streit https://shorturl.at/xzBK5 Click to Tweet
"The problem with multitasking is you're not doing those things well and your attention and your focus is divided, believe it or not, that actually causes a lot of stress." - Mary Streit https://shorturl.at/xzBK5 Click to Tweet