Our declining concentration spans Poor concentration can reduce motivation, result in decreased drive to achieve our set goals

Dr Chido Rwafa-Madzvamutse

Mental Wellness

As discussed in previous articles, mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a meaningful contribution to their community. 

Recent studies show that the human attention span may have decreased to as little as 12 seconds or less. This is having a devastating effect on our ability to learn and to be productive, effective and fruitful.

Are you struggling to concentrate?

 Do you struggle to focus for even short periods of time? 

 Do you find yourself daydreaming a lot?

 Are you very easily distracted? 

 Have you become inefficient and ineffective? 

 Are you becoming increasingly forgetful? 

 Do you struggle to think clearly? 

 Are you making frequent mistakes? 

 Can you focus long enough to read a book chapter? 

 When was the last time you read and completed a book? 

What is causing our lack of 


There are many factors that can affect our ability to focus and concentrate including:

 Stress and anxiety: when we are overwhelmed by the challenges of life or becoming anxious and excessively worried, this can distract us and decrease our ability to focus and concentrate.

 Depression: the poor attention that comes with depression will also affect our concentration. 

 Poor sleep: poor sleep can significantly affect our ability to concentrate, absorb new information and remember it 

 Alcohol and substance use: alcohol and other mind altering substances can affect our ability to focus and concentrate. 

 Side effects of medication: some medications particularly sleeping pills can affect our concentration 

 Technology and social media usage: has been identified as a significant cause of the declining concentration spans worldwide. 

The addictive nature of rapidly changing and constantly novel information that we receive in short intense bursts through various social media applications is detrimental to our ability to concentrate for significant periods of time. 

Effects of poor concentration

Our declining concentration spans are having a devastating impact on our lives and work. Poor concentration is resulting in difficulties in learning and retaining new information particularly in young people. 

Poor concentration can reduce motivation, result in decreased drive to achieve our set goals. Decreased concentration will result in inefficiency, errors and poor quality work and eventually poor productivity.

How can I improve my ability to concentrate?

We can focus our efforts and improve our concentration through the following:

 Eliminate distractions when working on a task 

 Avoid multitasking, the majority of us cannot multi-task efficiently 

 Set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely (SMART) goals that are also purposeful and meaningful and in line with your values

 Sleep well 

 Plan for and account for your time each day 

 Practice concentrating for increasing amounts of periods inter-spaced with short refreshing breaks. 

 Take time away from technology and social media 

 If you have not done so for some time, try and read a book this week. 

If you think that you or someone that you know may be struggling with a mental health problem, please contact your nearest health care provider and get help.

 Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) article written by Dr Chido Rwafa- Madzvamutse, Consultant Psychiatrist.

Feedback: (Dr. Chido Rwafa Madzvamutse Whatsapp+263714987729) (www.ahfoz.org;[email protected])

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