What is the Duration of Focus?
First, it's important to understand that everyone — whether they are dealing with ADHD or not — has times when their focus is sharper than others and has to navigate the variability of attention across different tasks. You've likely experienced this yourself. Some days you may find yourself able to stay on task and complete everything on your to-do list without getting off course while others may find you constantly pulling yourself away from social media or the television to get anything done.
Generally speaking, though, the human brain is wired to give attention in bursts of time. Focus is a skill that begins developing in early childhood and continues to develop over time into adulthood. As children age, they learn to divide their attention among different stimuli and to switch their focus to what is most important. They also develop longer durations of focus over time.
The duration of focus refers to the amount of time that a person can consistently stay on task without their attention wandering. This duration is impacted by factors such as age, the subject matter, the environment, and — of course — the learner's own neurological development. For this reason, a learner with ADHD may have a duration of focus that's significantly shorter than a same-age peer without ADHD.