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S01E44 – Low Attention Span? Find Out How To Get Things Done!

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Muslim Life Hackers

Channel: Muslim Life Hackers

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Episode Notes

Do you find yourself having troubles getting things done because you are unable to focus on the work at hand? Do you have find yourself having a low attention span? In this podcast, Mifrah discusses how you can get things done despite all this.

Episode Transcript

© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.


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Episode 44. With the excess social media, what has happened is that our brains have been trained to have short attention span because everything needs to be consumed quickly so that we can move on. Welcome to the Muslim life hackers podcast, the weekly podcast providing you with tips and tricks on how to hack your life and maximize its potential. And now for your hosts mipro marut edma he Molly, as we said, the crisis see that

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Assalamu alaikum Muslim life hackers, this is me for America with Episode 44 from the Muslim life hackers podcast. In this podcast, I'm going to be speaking to you about how to get things done if you have a low attention span. Now, I'm sure you can relate because I sure can relate to this, having that low attention span in which you're trying to concentrate on something but you just can't. It's just so difficult. And it is not lot of reasons for this very challenge. We'll get into it in today's podcast. So as always, the show notes, you can find them over at our website at Muslim life hackers.com slash 44. That's the number 44. Do you remember that time in which you were working

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on an assignment or say something you had to work on? And then you got in front of the computer? started to do some research, you read a few things. And then you decided to check Facebook because he saw a notification. I mean, because Facebook was already open in another window. And then you're like, Okay, look, I'm just going to quickly take a break, because I read so much. So you go to Facebook, and then you look at it and then like okay, and then you cross it up, then you get back to work. And then as you're working your mail application beeps, you know, the one that tells you that you got an email. So then you check that out as well. And you close it, you get back to work again.

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And then after that you have your phone next to you. So then no WhatsApp rings and your friend sends you a message asking you if you want to go to that Islamic event that's coming up. So then you thinking which Islamic event so you you jump back online, and you know, since since you were on the computer Anyway, you decide to go Google it up. I'm sorry, you find it on Facebook events. And then you think, okay, maybe maybe I should go. So you replied back and you're like, Okay, yeah, I'll go Just get me tickets, and I transfer the money over to you or whatever. So then after that, you think, okay, where was I? assignment? Yes, assignment. So you go back to your assignment, you open

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it up again. And lo and behold, there's still an empty page, there's still an empty page. I mean, maybe if you're fortunate enough, there was like the title there. And maybe a date as well. But it's still an empty page. And you look at the time and one hour has already passed. So when you think, Hmm, well, look, this assignment is due in two weeks. So I'll start it tomorrow. After all, I was working pretty hard. And I mean, I'm not exaggerating here, but you didn't read a lot of stuff. So it kind of justifies it. So you think, okay, close the assignment. And then you get back to surfing on the internet. And that's the end of that. So that day, what happened was, you tried to work on

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your assignment, and then you worked on it a little bit, and then you just closed it. So can you relate? I mean, it can be an assignment, it can be a podcast, like the one I'm doing. And it's funny, because as I was doing this podcast, I had a good laugh to myself, and I was thinking, hey, look, here I am doing a podcast of low attention span. And what I was needing at that point was some attention to get it done. And it's just pretty ironic. And you see, it doesn't help. You know, considering the time we're living in, in which, like, are many of us grew up with technology. And we do know that, like, with technology, and particularly the internet, how there's like an overload of

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information that comes and so, you know, as we, as we look through all this information, say, like, on our Twitter feeds, or on our social media feeds out, our brains are actually forced to scan it, and, and keep moving on because of the constant rate of that information. So then what happens is, we find that like, in the long term, we find it hard to concentrate on one thing deeply because we're so used to kind of like looking at something, and then keep moving on. So it's like a shallow overview, at that deep concentration, like, holding your attention to something becomes harder. Thus, you know, that also explains one of the reasons why many of us would be facing this low

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attention span, we find it hard to concentrate on something. And, you know, creating this podcast for myself was a good refresher as well because some of the techniques that I was like reading through and like I had to put them in place so that I can get this podcast completed and recorded in time for you to listen to. And, uh, one of the reason that he was like really important that I get this podcast completed was because Sharla I'm actually going to be leaving for Hajj soon and

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It's about in a few weeks. And I in order to part of my preparation was that I had to like record three episodes, three episodes of podcast in advance, along with like, our interviews as well. So which inshallah, if you're hearing this the Euro hurdled interviews by now but hold this had to get like cramped before going to hide so it was a challenge but when you put your mind to it, you can get it done, even if you have a low attention span like myself really. So I mean, coming back to like, Well, my point I was making earlier, like we're living in that world of interruption, so everything wants to attention, you know, the marketing videos, commercials, I mean, there was social

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media, that was like one thing, but then there's like the advertisements. And that I think is,

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you know, with market research and stuff, what they do is they get a combination of colors, sounds that can get our attention. And so it doesn't make it doesn't make it any easier. So then I find it hard to concentrate, we find it hard to concentrate with someone's talking. And we find hard to you know, concentrate on something a single thing for hours on ends, including assignments or any other work that needs to be done. So despite this, how do we get things done? That's a question. I mean, yes, this, this is a challenge. And this is an obstacle ironed out, it is definitely, but there is a way around it. And inshallah, in this podcast, I hope to give you some tips that you can put in

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place, in order to help you concentrate more on the work that you want to finish the work that you want to work on and get it done. And so hopefully, in the long term, you can concentrate on the things that you want to concentrate on. Okay, so let's start, the first tip is to take some time out. So what I mean by this is like, you're in the middle of working, right. So like going back to that scenario spectrum. To start, you're sitting down, you're like, there was the social media, the email, the WhatsApp and everything was happening. So at this point, what you should do is take time out. And what I mean by this is stand up from your desk, put away your phone, and start cleaning

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your surroundings. Because you see if you're distracted, chances are your surroundings are missed as well.

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The first thing you can do is like make your bed, clean up your desk. And then after that, sit down, and then write down on a piece of paper what exactly you want to get done. So write down on the piece of paper, what's important for me, and what do I want to accomplish. So update, you actually clean your surroundings and everything. And then you sit down in the writer, then you will know exactly what you actually want to get done. And that is the first step. So first tip is that when you find yourself in the middle of a mess, middle of chaos, take some time up and make clear exactly what you want to get done. And then get back in it again. So now the second tip is that start with

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the end in mind. And this actually goes back to my previous tip that I spoke about. And what I mean by this is that remember the outcome. So you know the part in which I said you know, get a get a diary or get a piece of paper and start writing what exactly you want to get done. This actually goes with the whole starting with the end in mind. Because you see, if you don't know what you want to finish, then you will know that you won't finish it. I mean, look at it this way. For example. So pretend that there was a race happening, right? And there was no finish line. Now would you be racing, maybe at the start, you saw your friends run? So you're like, Okay, I'm gonna keep running.

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And then you keep running. And then you're like, would this race ever end.

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And then you just decide to, you know, who cares about this race, and you just hit Done? Because you know why the race line wasn't clear. So what you need to do is make the line clear. So in this case, make it clear what exactly you want to get done, so that your brain can focus and you know exactly what you are sitting down for. You see vague, vague plans lead to vague results. And so for example, when I was writing up this podcast, my intent in mind today was to outline like create the outline for the show and record the show.

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If I didn't make this clear, then it would have been all over the place for me because creating the outline and recording the show is just one of a few parts when creating a episode because there is the editing, there is the post production there's of leasing. And this all takes time as well. But

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what I wanted to do was to focus on the first part because that's, that's the one that requests the most thinking really, that's the one that requires the most focus. And then after that, if I do get time, then I can do the rest. If not, then I can do it on another day. When you have the end in mind, you know exactly

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What you need to get completed, I know that this is a very simple tip. But sometimes in the middle of things, we don't realize it. We don't know exactly because we just want like that stress off, we need to get things done just forces us to sit down and start without knowing what we want to finish. So that was tip number two, start with the end in mind. Tip number three is to get only the things that you need to work with, and unplug everything else. So before you start, honestly ask yourself, what do you need open. So open those things and close anything else. So this includes putting away your phone, or at least a silent and make sure it's away from yet the other side of the room. And

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believe me, like you know, it feels better when you sit down and do your work. And then you take a break and come to your phone and you find it filled with so many notifications. And it's it feels much better.

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Because you can enjoy looking at this verifications without feeling guilty. And at the same time, you can work very hard without being distracted by those notifications. So one thing is turn off your phone, put it on silent, and leave it at the other side of the room. Because that is something that honestly, most of the time, you don't need to have your phone next to you when you're working on something. The other thing you can also do is say turn off the internet, by sometimes when we need to do assignments or when we need to do some research research or something we do require the internet. So one way around, this can be that you turn on the internet, and then you get everything

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you need to get like all the reading materials, and then you open it all up. Then after that, you can start reading through all the articles that you can start writing. Because that way, you'll be less likely to be distracted. By turning off the internet on your computer, it also means that you won't get notifications coming up like say, the mail application or say, you know, in the middle of your assignment, you you decide to go click on a link. And then you know, each link leads to another link. And eventually you might find yourself where you don't you don't intend to be and wasting a lot of time. So or when when I was actually working on this podcast, what I was doing is I had all

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the things that I wanted to read on this topic. And what I did was I used a plugin called the Evernote clearly plugin. And pretty much what that does is that it cleans up a website like for example, say you went on, you know, there's articles, news sites and stuff like how they filled with ads. And they're so distracting and they don't help with attention, right. So what I did was I use this plugin called Evernote clearly plugin. And what it does is like it takes away all the ads, and it just leaves you with the text in a readable format. So I opened up everything I needed to read, and then clicked on the Evernote plugin, which converted each page into like a, a more readable

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page or more focused page, and then turning off the internet from there. And then from there, you know, read everything and then start writing out the outline. So that was tip number three, get only the things you need to work with and unplug everything else. Okay, so now you might be thinking, when can I look at my phone? Or when can I you know, turn the internet back on? Is it going to be forever? Well, not really, because the fourth tip will explain to you what I mean by this.

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So tip number four is to use a timer. So what you can do is you can get yourself like a physical timer, a timer on the computer or on your phone, you can use the Pomodoro technique, which is like a technique that uses a timer to break down work into intervals. And it's like traditionally 25 minutes in length and then separated by short breaks. Or you can just set up your own timer, which is like you could set a timer for 15 minutes, 20 minutes, or even 45 minutes. But what you do at that point is like when you set that timer, you tell yourself, I'm going to sit down and work on this for as long as that timer runs. So you really focus and you force yourself to focus. If you're

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finding that you know you're having troubles focusing, then I suggest you put the timer on like a lower amount of time, say 15 minutes. And then as you keep getting better at focusing, you can increase your time. And then after that, after that timer rings, make sure you get up and take a break. And as you take a break, put the timer on for like five minutes or 10 minutes, depending on how long you worked for and take a break according to that amount of time. Back during your break. Depending how long it is, you could go and eat some snacks, you can go look at your phone. So pretty much what you need to do on your break is to disengage from your work, do something else maybe you

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can even read like a book or a novel or something that you're in the middle of and then you can do that as long as the break goes off. And then once the break rings again, once once Time is up to the break, you can get up back again and then get back to work again. And really we do the same for our bodies when we run like on a sprint. We'll be sprinting and then Christine sprinting

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And then resting. So this is the same approach that we should also take when it comes to working as well that we focus. And then, you know, take a step back and disengage. So you see, when a person goes for a race like their their sprint, then it makes sense that they take a break before their next sprint. And in the same way, our our brains work the same way as well like our concentration, we need to really put our effort in and then take a break, and then really focus and then take a break. That way we can better able to concentrate and get the work done at hand. And of course, remember, when you take a break, make sure you stick to the timing, I mean, if it's a 10 minute

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break, then it's a 10 minute break, not a one hour break, and make sure that you listen to your timer. Like even if you're working and your timer rings, make sure you get up. Because you see, it's really tempting that when you start to work, you really want to work, and then you try to reset, like all I'll just get up later, I'm working anyway. But that's, that's not the right thing to do either. Because what you're doing is you're you're teaching yourself that it's okay to not listen to your timer. And as a result, if you're in your break, and the timer goes off, then you'd also feel that Oh, look, it's okay not to listen to your timer. So fast, you can be taking more than the

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allocated time for your break as well. So set your timer and listen to it. And if you know that you can concentrate for a longer period of time, then put it for a longer period of time. And if you know that, you could only like concentrate for like 10 minutes or 15 minutes, then put around for that, that amount of time. So that was Tip number four, use a timer. Okay, so the fifth point is to embrace single tasking. So whenever it's possible, embrace doing something.

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And actually immersing yourself in it, because you see this no such thing as multitasking. And I know that maheen spoke about this in one of the previous podcasts, you can find it, it was called the truth about multitasking. And what we are best at doing is actually to be able to concentrate on something and fully immerse ourselves in it because that way we can be able to get it done. So some ways on training yourself to embrace single tasking is by

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like, say, for example, you were cleaning the house, then complete a full task, don't just leave it half finished. And then you know, leave it for some time and then come back later. Immerse yourself in the single tasking, complete a full task. Another example is that when someone stops talking to you, then give them the your full attention. Another example is that when you're in a meeting, try, try your utmost best, like when you're in a meeting, when you're in like a lecture or something like giving up more space to listen to the person that's talking, I mean, taking notes is fine. But try to avoid those other things like you know, getting out your phone or checking your messages or

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something. Because you see, the more you can train yourself to embrace single tasking. At the end, we'll come back to benefit you when you need, you need to do a task that requires full attention. That way, since you've trained your brain to be able to concentrate on one thing, as a result, you can be able to concentrate on the thing that you want to get done. Say, you know, it was your, your assignment or some other type of work. So that was tip number five, embrace single tasking. So tip number six is to make your learning active. So for example, like instead of highlighting passages, rewrite your interpretation or summaries on another page. Also, in meetings, like instead of just

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like listening, take notes, make it active. By by doing this, he can help you be able to focus more, give your attention longer to something.

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The seventh tip is to create a productive space. Now be honest with yourself, like how do you work best? When do you get your best work done. This is something you need to find out for yourself. But one thing is for sure, having a distraction free work area is really important. like making sure that there's not too many like physical objects clutter, because you see they do interfere with your concentration. And I'll give you an example what I mean by this. You know, when you go to the bathroom and you see your toothbrush, don't use sometimes just want to brush your teeth just by seeing it. Or say you saw your phone and the notification was going on that you just want to go and

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open it. See this is like a certain immediate reaction we have when we see these items. And so what happens when our desks are filled with clutter, each thing that you have on your workspace is screaming out to you to do something. I mean, the book can be saying read me and the like, like these papers and these bills that you have can be saying, Look, I'm overdue, make sure you pay these bills. And another thing can be like

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it just depends how cluttered your desk area is. So make sure you clean it up that way. You don't get distracted by these things. That way you don't get distracted by these things. And as a result with

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You're working, you can give your work at hand the full attention. So that was Tip Number seven, create a productive workspace. Tip number eight is either work hard or consciously rest. Now, this just goes back to you know, even in our religion, we're told to do something with excellence. And so this is something that you can take when like when you're working hard, do it with excellent actually work hard. And if you're resting, then do it with excellence, actually, restwell don't do this in between stuff. Because you see, what I mean by these in between stuff is like, pretending to write your assignment and having social media and another screen. I mean, if you can't, if you need

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a rest, then take a risk, don't don't do this half, half kind of thing, like you're working on something and you're not working on something at the same time. The reality is that it doesn't get you anywhere. So if you find that you need to recharge your batteries, you need to get up, then get up, go for a walk, or you can take a nap. Or you can just we just want to relax your mind because you've been thinking so much then take a break. It's really important. I mean, don't don't think that taking a break is not good. I mean, some sometimes we think that all look when we lose concentration, we think that if we work more than it will be better but but that's incorrect. Taking

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a break is very important. Like I was speaking earlier about you know, the the race in which a person would sprint and they need to take a risk as well. Because say a person was just like sprinting, sprinting, sprinting. And sure like by the by like say their second or third race, they'll totally lose energy compared to someone who say they did their first sprint and they took a rest in between before the second race started. And then they did their second sprint and they took a race in between and they did their third race, they would be much better off than the person who just like didn't take a break. So to remember Tip Number eight, either work hard or consciously

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rest, do each one with excellence. Avoid the whole in between thing. Okay, so there you have it. These are the eight tips. So the first tip is to take timeout. The second tip is to start with the end in mind. The third tip is to get only the things that you need to work with. The fourth tip is to use the timer. The fifth tip is to embrace single tasking. And the sixth tip is to make your learning active. The seventh tip is to create a productive workspace. And the eighth tip is to either work hard or consciously rest. So that actually concludes off today's podcast. There are one final thing that I want to add on to this is that keep at it make focus on making your attention

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span better, and it will only get better with time. And this actually goes to the whole topic about how there's something called neuroplasticity and this is how your brain changes is its organization over time to deal with new experiences. So if you can focus on if you can train your mind to be able to focus on something more, then you will only get better with time. And on the other hand, though, like It also explains why we tend to have short attention spans because with the extra social media, what has happened is that our brains have been trained to have short attention span because everything needs to be consumed quickly so that we can move on. But if you can be able to

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intentionally train yourself to focus better, and you have to give your attention to something you'll only get better with time. And besides, you can still check your Twitter feed or your Facebook feed during your break. It's not that you're going to get rid of social media altogether and a few lives. But rather, we can find a very good balance and still get your assignments on time still produce fantastic work, and be awesome. So that concludes today's episode of the Muslim life hackers podcast. I'm actually interested to know what you thought about this podcast and also some tips that you use yourself when you find yourself trying to get something done and just don't have

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that attention to concentrate throughout this task. Do let us know your thoughts by tweeting to us. Our handle is in life hackers. So let us know your thoughts. So until next time, Muslim life hackers, aim high take action and be awesome.