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Bookstrapping: Attention Span by Dr Gloria Mark

Bookstrapping: Attention Span by Dr Gloria Mark

Bookstrapping: Attention Span by Dr Gloria Mark
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By Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta  Jan 23, 2023 3:31:28 PM IST (Updated)

In the book, Attention Span, Dr Mark delves into the newly celebrated concept of ‘kinetic attention.’ She introduces a more balanced understanding of the rhythm between deep focus and less focused states, which may actually serve to make us happier and more productive in the long term. Bookstrapping Rating: 3.5 stars.

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Have you ever felt that even after a busy 10-hour day, you haven't accomplished anything? And does this disappointment roll over to other aspects of your life?


Look at your work day, critically. When you combine the constant meetings, e-mails and phone calls with co-workers, it seem sas if the single most prominent part of work itself, is interruption.

In her new book, Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity, two time Google Research Awardee, Dr Gloria Mark who studies human-computer interaction (HCI), helps us make sense of interruptions.

Interestingly, I came across an earlier interview in which she spoke about how people interrupt themselves about 44 percent of the time! Talk about being your own worst enemy? And since this is such an important subject, it brings us our first book for review for 2023!

After all, we at BookStrapping, are committed to helping you enhance your efficiency and productivity. Here are key takeaways from the book.

Bookstrapping insights

Some interruptions are deliberately self-created. Most, however, are not. All interruptions impact the focus of attention, and attention is a critically limiting aspect of human cognition. It affects how we perform.

It’s time we re-examined what an interruption really is. Not all interruptions are the same. Some interruptions are from external sources. A person comes in, or your e-mail signal comes on, or the phone rings, or people chat through the cubicle wall to you.

Those are external interruptions. But there are also internal interruptions; for whatever reason, people interrupt themselves of their own volition and switch to something else. People interrupted themselves almost as much as they were interrupted by external sources.

In the book Dr Mark says, “We spend an average of just 47 seconds on any screen before shifting our attention. It takes 25 minutes to bring our attention back to a task after an interruption.”

Each of these interruptions changes the physical environment and drains out mental resources. So how does one refuel? Dr Mark delves into the newly celebrated concept of ‘kinetic attention.’ She introduces a more balanced understanding of the rhythm between deep focus and less focused states, which may actually serve to make us happier and more productive in the long term.

Multitasking might end up hurting your productivity; especially if your attention on each task is compromised! Have you considered this thought?

As you finish the book, you are tempted to make a new resolve - to close the door to your office at the risk of being a social outcast- if you need to get things done. Because the way our brains function in the digital world needs some adjusting to.

The book has interesting suggestions on how we can take control of our attention and find more success in our careers. Needless to say, attention is key to health and wellness in our everyday lives too.

Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta is a columnist and bestselling biographer. She is credited with the internationally acclaimed Red Dot Experiment, a decadal six-nation study on how ‘culture impacts communication.’ On Twitter @OfficialReetaRG.

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