It’s telling that the optimal recommended video length on TikTok is between 21 and 34 seconds. These days, that’s about how long our attention spans tend to last.
Our constant task-switching is—unsurprisingly—not so great for our brains. “Switching back and forth between tasks is burning up the brain’s primary fuel source, which is oxygenated glucose. The brain has to ‘travel a path’ to go from one task to another, which uses fuel,” Chris Lee, a neuroscience and technology expert, tells mindbodygreen.
Multitasking also drains our cognitive reserves. Think of the brain as its own person: If you ask it to hold on to too many things, Lee explains, eventually it’s going to run out of hands and drop something. No matter who you are, research shows that task performance deteriorates when you attempt to take on more than one task at a time.
In an age of information overload, cultivating attention has never been more important—or more difficult. We asked Lee to share the best strategies he’s found for tuning out distractions and living a more focused life: