Our attention spans are shortening.
“An average attention span— the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted — has decreased to just 8 seconds. This is 50% less than 17 years ago!”
I can vouch for the truth of this claim, based solely on my own experiences. In the time it’s taken me to write these sentences, I’ve answered one email, followed a link on another, gone to the kitchen for a Graham cracker, researched lawn care services, and complained about this new WordPress format a hundred times.
The topic of paying attention on the job and in school is well-covered on many web sites, as is paying attention to others and to the world around you.
Equally important is paying attention to everyday situations, and that’s where my examples come in.
A few months ago, my husband and I bought new running/walking shoes. We happened to choose the same style shoe. The clerk had not checked our foot sizes, perhaps because to do so would require her to be closer than six feet from our faces; instead, she relied on our word for what sizes we wore. The first shoe I tried on was tight, so I went for a larger size than I’d ever worn before and hoped I’d judged correctly.
After wearing the shoes for a couple of days, I decided I had made a mistake. On my walk around the track at the local Y, I knew exactly what clown’s shoes felt like. How did circus performers manage to navigate in these floppy, wide-toed monsters? And what was I going to do about my obvious mistake? After a few days of complaining to my husband, he noticed another pair of shoes sitting near the fireplace and said, “Did you know you’re wearing my shoes?
No. I didn’t. I hadn’t paid attention.
Not long after this event, my wire whisk developed a problem. I use a whisk often, and always found this one a little short at twelve inches, because my hand became very warm in the course of stirring it in a pan on the burner. I began a search for a new one. In the kitchen shop the whisks were even shorter than mine. After much research, I finally found one on-line. Not thinking about anything but the fact that my hand would not overheat using this one, I ordered it right away. When it arrived, I had to ask my husband, “What size pan do you think this twenty-two inch whisk would work best in?”
“A cauldron,” was his answer. And that sums up why I have to start paying more attention.