ARE YOU DISTRACTED? ME TOO! – Holly Foster Media


In a scene from the movie The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg says something the real Mark Zuckerberg may or may not have actually uttered. It’s delivered right after he looks out a window, distracted by the fact that it has just started raining (Movieclips, 2011). 

A deposing lawyer asks “Mr. Zuckerberg, do I have your full attention?”

“No” he answers.

The lawyer replies “Do you think I deserve it? Do you think I deserve your full attention?”

“You have part of my attention. You have the minimum amount.”

We have become a society that is unwilling to pay attention for any great period of time. Everyone is looking for the shortest way to do everything; get to the point and make it quick. But truly, we pay for our haste in missed opportunities.

A recent post from Azeria Labs poses the all-important question:

“Why is it, that although we have access to all the resources we need for developing a new skill, we fail to do so, even if we have the time or could rearrange our schedule to make time for it? Perhaps we have forgotten that the distractions we face on a daily basis prevent us from performing to the best of our abilities” (Markstedter, 2017)

Have I captured your attention yet? 

Here are three things you can do to help grow your attention span and use your existing skillset to maximize your natural talents.


Our lack of attention affects the way we read and learn. In The Shrinking Reader Attention Span, Anne Janzer shares that “All of us are skimming through online sites and articles, multi-tasking across devices, leaving browser tabs open, and probably doing less focused work than we remember doing in the past” (2018).

So what’s the big deal? Doesn’t the fact that we read at all count for something, even if it’s on a screen? In his opinion article titled I Have Forgotten how to Read (Harris, 2018) Michael Harris claims that “when we read in the disjointed, goal-oriented way that online life encourages – we stop exercising our attention.”

So start a training program — with books!

What we read matters, so whether it’s on a screen or printed on a page, it’s a good idea to read more books because READING A BOOK DEMANDS YOUR ATTENTION (just in case you’re skimming). It you don’t like it after 50 pages, stop reading (see #7 in the list below).

Have you begun to skim yet?


The good news is that the amount of reading choices available through various flavors of media has motivated many people to read more than they ever have before. But how much of what you read do you remember? Generally, we read more but retain less because how you read matters.

In the Farnam Street blog entitled How to Remember What You Read (Parrish, 2017), Shane Parrish outlines seven practical steps you can follow that will enable you to become an “active” reader.

  1. Take Notes
  2. Stay Focused
  3. Mark Up the Book
  4. Stop and Build a Vivid Mental Picture
  5. Make Mental Links
  6. Keep Mental Models in Mind
  7. Put It Down If You Get Bored 

Not sure you’ll do all seven? Too much work? This next recommendation, also by Mr. Parrish, can make a HUGE difference. 

“Upon completing a book, grab the nearest (willing) person and tell them about what you have learned. You’ll have to remove or explain the jargon, describe why this information has meaning, and walk them through the author’s logic. It sounds simple. After you try it the first time, you’ll realize it’s not easy.” (Parrish, 2017)

Be an active reader.

If you’ve made it this far, don’t worry; this is the last one. Most people can only remember three things.
(Clark, 2018)


Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive of Google said “I still believe that sitting down and reading a book is the best way to really learn something.”  

Number one distraction? Of course it’s your phone. How many times a day do you check it? According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Mobile Consumer Survey: U.S. edition, fifty-two. When you really think about it, how do you accomplish anything else?

Having Your Smartphone Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking (Duke, Ward, Gneezy, Bos, 2018) details a study that measured cognitive capacity when participants were asked to perform a complex cognitive task in three scenarios: 

  1. While they had their smartphone with them, 
  2. put away, 
  3. or in another room.

It’s not a big surprise that people performed the worst when their phones were nearby. Even if they set the phone to silent and it was face down. 

According to Cal Newport in the book Deep Work, “network tools distract us from work that requires unbroken concentration and simultaneously degrades our capacity to remain focused” (2016).

Network tools?  They’re things like e-mail, text messaging, and social media. Admit it, they can be addicting.

Summary? Don’t let technology control you. Increase the amount of quality reading you do. 

This is the beginning of a new exercise. 

Choose a good book, carve out some time and put your phone on silent. Better yet, try turning it off for dedicated periods of time and exercise your attention span by reading more. 


You made it to the end. Well done.

until nxt time …

Clark, B. (2015, September 10). How to use the ‘rule of three’ to create engaging content [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Deloitte. (2018). Global mobile consumer survey: US edition. Retrieved from

Duke, K., Ward, A., Gneezy, A., & Bos, M. (2018, March 20). Having your smartphone nearby takes a toll on your thinking. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

Harris, M. (2018, February 9). I have forgotten how to read. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from

Janzer, A. (2018, June 12). The shrinking reader attention span [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Markstedter, M. (2017) The importance of deep work & the 30-hour method for learning a new skill. Retrieved from

Movieclips. (2011, May 31). The Social Network #10 Movie CLIP – Your Full Attention (2010) HD . Retrieved from

Newport, C. (2016). Deep Work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.

Parrish, S. (2017, October 23). How to remember what you read [Blog post]. Retrieved from

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