Attention! An article about attention

Have you ever thought that the majority of your success in learning English or acquiring new skills is determined by your ability to manage your own attention?

As a team, we at Savvy are responsible for people’s development, and we fight for this type of attention every single day — during workshops, classes, or when making articles like this one.

We react emotionally when we are bombarded with notifications in social media apps, messages from friends and colleagues, distractions from promoted advertising. All in all, a massive struggle is taking place to steal our attention from us.

But ask yourself this question — does it make any sense to be involved in this competition called “who is brighter?”

Really, on the one hand, we try to add more games to our classes — add more emotional coloring to improve the reaction of the brain. On the other hand, we understand that it would be great to motivate students to train the skill of keeping attention by their own will power. In scientific terms, it is the prefrontal area of the brain that performs this duty.

If you are still reading ATTENTIVELY (by the way, I’ll tell you about the use of long reads later) I hope you have come to the conclusion that there are two types of attention. Ooops, you are wrong) Well, in fact, there are three types of attention. In this article, however, I’m just going to tell you about two: active attention (top-down) and forced attention (bottom-up)

Pay attention to the words in brackets, as they show the meaning really well.

While top-down attention is taking place, the brain cortex is making a decision that will be in focus at the moment. In other words, this is a choice by our will.

In contrast, while bottom-up attention is working (it may sound a bit crude, but I hope you remember it), parts of the body are making decisions 😳 We do not need any energy source or discipline to turn on the second type of the attention — we simply react to the signals we are presented with.

All advertising and notifications are used to attract our bottom-up attention. But the  issue is that we can’t think about everything at once. As a result, our brain chooses the most simple and lazy option.

And what result do we have? The Prefrontal area of the brain remains unused and we lose our ability to keep attention for a long time by our own sheer will. 

No one reads long posts.

Do you understand now where it comes from? (If you are still reading 😂)

About four years ago I came across a quote by Pavel Durov and added it to my workplace:

Maximum concentration and perseverance — two main traits that will distinguish a successful person in the period of global computerization.  

These days, while working with people I’ve come to notice something interesting. Top management is always deeply engaged in the process of corporate workshops and training until the end. Meanwhile, middle-level staff begins yawning halfway through.

When examining my own clients — the bigger the business is or the higher a person’s position, the more diligent they are while completing tasks. For that reason, they obtain educational results much faster.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. 😉

So what should we do to master our own top-down attention?

  • learn something new all the time, such as foreign languages;
  • read interesting and useful posts (for instance, you may follow the Savvy Instagram page 😉);
  • learn long lyrics or poems by heart;
  • meditate;
  • use timeboxing methods, for example by Pomodoro;
  • ask yourself each time when you want to be distracted from the current working process: which part of the body controls me now my head or something else?

And if at least one person starts training his/her prefrontal area during the educational process after reading this post, and “bottom” gets trained where it is supposed to be — in the gym, I will know that this day wasn’t spent in vain.

Sincerely yours,

Anna Krasilnik

Savvy Head of Corporate English

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