I’ve noticed lately that my mind has been wandering a lot so I wanted to see how attention works and how to manage it better.
It turns out a lot of us have wandering minds and struggle to stay focused. In fact, when we’re reading, our minds typically wander anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of the time. Voluntarily keeping our attention on one thing continuously can take a lot of effort, so it’s not surprising that I struggle with this sometimes.
Luckily, there are ways to keep our attention spans from burning out, once we understanding how they work.
The two brain systems that control your attention
Our brain is split into two systems, according to Daniel Kahneman. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, he calls these System 1 and System 2 (to get a full understanding of how these work, I’d highly recommend reading his book. I can only explain them briefly here, and there’s a lot more that goes into how our brains do the things they do!).