100 Things You Should Know About People: #100 — Sustained Attention Lasts 10 Minutes

chart showing drop in attention after 10 minutes

After 10 Minutes Attention Wanes

You are sitting in a meeting, and someone is presenting sales figures for last quarter. How long can this person hold your attention?

7-10 — If the topic is of interest to you, and the person is a good presenter, the maximum you can focus on the presentation is about 7-10 minutes. And if you are not interested in the topic and/or the presenter is particularly boring, then you’ll lose interest much faster. For most people performing most tasks, they can hold attention for 7 to 10 minutes, and then the attention will start to wane.

Break buys you another 7-10 – People can take a short break and then start over with another 7 to 10 minutes period, but 7 to 10 minutes is about how long they can pay attention to one task.

The end of a journey — For those of you who have been following my series, “100 Things You Should Know About People”, you probably realized that with this post I have reached the end of my 100 Things. Stay tuned for what comes next!


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8 comments on “100 Things You Should Know About People: #100 — Sustained Attention Lasts 10 Minutes
  1. gef05 says:

    I’ve greatly enjoyed the series, and am looking forward to what comes next (hopefully another series as useful as this one has been).

  2. Hans says:

    I very much enjoy your blog, Susan. Your posts are often an inspiration for my own blog.

    Cannot you change it into ‘200 Things You Should Know About People’.

  3. taine says:

    could i translate this pice of this one onto my blog?

  4. Susan Weinschenk says:

    gef05 and Hans — glad you liked the series!

    Taine — yes, you can translate if you give full attribution and link to this blog.

  5. Linda W says:

    Another interesting post in an excellent series! Thanks for sharing all these articles.

    An attention span of 7-10 minutes is even less than I thought. Valuable info!

  6. Charles says:

    What is the empirical evidence for this? The a similar figure is often quoted in courses training new university lecturers. However, in practice, I’ve found that (physics) students do not like having breaks in technical material every ten minutes because, they say, it interupts their concentration.

  7. PeanutButterJelly says:

    very very very good helped me with my speech a lot – decided to do my speech on this ;)

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I'm a Ph.D. psychologist and I write and videoblog about how to apply psychology and brain science research to understand how people think, work, and behave. For more information about me and about the Weinschenk Institute, check out the the Team W website.

Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D.
The "Brain Lady"


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