40 seconds is all it takes to boost concentration

From meditation and exercise to drinking coffee, there are many tricks of the trade entrepreneurs use to help boost productivity and concentration. However, with an already busy day in the diary it can sometimes seem like a challenge to fit in time to take a break. So, like many people out there we were excited to see the latest research from the University of Melbourne suggests that we need as short as 40 seconds of downtime to boost our concentration levels.

In the study Students at the University were given a simple, boring task, where they were asked to press a key as a series of numbers repeatedly flashed on a computer screen, unless that number was three.

Midway through the study, the group of students were asked to look at a city landscape for 40 seconds. One half the students looked at a flowery, green roof, whereas the other students had a view of a bare concrete roof.

It was found that the students who viewed the grassy roof made significantly fewer errors in the task compared to the other group.

Researchers concluded that the green roof provided a “restorative experience” that boosted mental resources that control attention.



Lead researcher Dr Kate Lee, of the University of Melbourne Faculty of Science, said just a moment of green can provide a boost for tired workers.

“We know that green roofs are great for the environment, but now we can say that they boost attention too. Imagine the impact that has for thousands of employees working in nearby offices,” Dr Lee said.

“This study showed us that looking at an image of nature for less than a minute was all it took to help people perform better on our task.”

Following on from this experiment, Dr Lee is planning a research project that looks into whether workplace greening makes people more helpful and creative.