USING ATTENTION

Each form of attention has uses and limitations.  The goal is to use each effectivley and to shift between them when needed.

ACTIVE ATTENTION
– eg. studying, solving problems
– focussed attention has limited capacity and is easily fatigued
– take breaks (eg 10-15 minutes per hour) to restore attention

PASSIVE ATTENTION
– eg. watching TV or surfing the internet
– occurs when attention is grabbed by whatever sticks out, especially novelty or danger

MIND-WANDERING
– eg. daydreaming
– mind-wandering is the brain’s default mode and occurs about 50% of the time
– the stream of consciousness is a jumble of fantasies, memories, arguments and rehearsals

USING ATTENTION EFFECTIVELY
– to focus on a difficult task, limit distractions and take breaks
– to cope with distracting thoughts, write them down and deal with them later
– to get a new perspective, return to a task after taking a break or a night’s sleep
– to refocus wandering attention, focus on immediate perceptions and sensations
– to restore fatigued attention, take regular breaks and vary activities
– allow time for passive attention and mind wandering
– use mindfulness techniques to counter worry and rumination

SEE ALSO
– How to Focus a Wandering Mind
– Soft Fascination
– How to Build a Happier Brain