Astonishing Numbers


There are times when lists are more impactful than even the most eloquent narrative. This is probably why lists as blog content are popular…you know, things like Top 5 Ways to Be More Efficient, 10 Ways to Improve Your Overall Health, Top 10 Universities of the Year, etc. I am not sure what the best title for this week’s blog post is, but “Astonishing Numbers” may be the most descriptive and it too falls into that category of lists.

These stats that I am going to share are not only astonishing in and of themselves, but when you consider the implications to our goal of living faithful and Christ-centered lives then these numbers move into a whole new stratosphere that is freighting. Today’s blog is not meant to fully unpack this data or what it means for how we live our lives, but rather this is an opportunity to begin to digest and examine more carefully what are the real influences. Most of us have some sense that there are habits and patterns that we have established that do not promote the virtuous triad of the good, the true, and beautiful.

These numbers below will put a fine point on where we are today, and it is not encouraging. Even so much so that some of us may discover that large portions of our lives mimic the characterization of the old sitcom Seinfeld—”a show about nothing.” The intent of this blog is not to be depressing, rather it is to stir us. We may be living at such a fast pace that we are unaware that portions of our existence is about “nothing.”

I recently heard an interview on NPR with Johann Hari about his new book, Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again. The interview was fascinating and I immediately went home and pressed that infamous “buy now” button. While I am only a couple of chapters into the book, the statistics that he has amassed through countless interviews with experts worldwide are startling. This is the type of data that I think we need to swim in a bit to properly process how this relates to each of us individually. It is not our imagination that we all struggle with focus and thinking deeply. Here are some of the “astonishing numbers” about where we are that should make us pause:

  • Teenagers can only focus on one task at a times for 65 seconds;

  • Teenagers average time for focusing without switching their attention is 19 seconds;

  • Office workers, on average, can only focus for 3 minutes;

  • Adults can focus, but when we are interrupted it takes an average of 23 minutes to regain some level of focus;

  • American office workers never get an hour of uninterrupted work in the typical day

  • Americans, on average, spend 3 hours and 15 minutes on our phone daily, and we touch our phones 2,617 times a day; and

  • Americans, on average, spend 40% of our time wrongly believing we are multi-tasking—studies have shown that people who “multi-task” perform 20-30% worse than those who don’t.

This is a sampling of how our minds are working or I should say, not working. This is not a Christian book and I have no idea whether the author is a believer. However, as I am reading this book as a Christ-follower I can not escape the flood of ideas that keep coming to mind. The implications for our spiritual well-being are staggering, not to mention all the other aspects of our lives. Here are some of the questions that I would love for us to mull over together:

  • How will I ever be able to truly study the Bible?

  • How do I think deeply about the things of this world, and labor well for the Kingdom?

  • How do I make important parental or life decisions that require time, attention, and focus?

  • How will I ever become an expert in my field?

  • How do I think rightly about political candidates or our current political landscape?

  • How do I build relationships if these stats are true, because relationships take time?

  • How do I reconcile broken relationships because trying to make whole that which is broken takes time?

  • How do I become proficient in anything (work, hobbies, etc.) I love and according to Malcom Gladwell require 10,000 hours for mastery?

  • How do I not become paralyzed with all the work I have in light of all my inefficiencies?

  • How do I truly enjoy anything, let alone our Heavenly Father when joy is at some level a function of time?

One of the big ideas that Hari is championing in his book is best captured when he says, “We think our inability to focus is a personal failure to summon enough willpower to ignore our devices. The truth is even more disturbing: our focus has been stolen…” The good news is Hari thinks he has learned ways “we can reclaim our focus—as individuals and as a society—if we are determined to fight for it.” The even better news is that as Christians we worship a sovereign God who reigns supreme over every hair that falls from our head and every sparrow that falls from the sky. It is in His providence that we are living in 2022, and we have the promises of Scripture that tell us He will equip us to face whatever comes our way because He is our refuge and our strength.

All of these statistics point to a dangerous trend that we are becoming less intentionally mindful, which is why it is good for us to exercise a deliberateness as we examine our own lives and employ the Holy Spirit to renew our minds. We should not miss that there is a spiritual dimension to the habits and patterns that form our daily routines.

As God’s people we need to lean into the power of His Holy Spirit, as we consider our choices in the context of these statistics and questions. We need to pray that the Lord would show us what are the outside, powerful influences in our lives that we are not fully appreciating. Furthermore, let us join together in pleading to the Lord for wisdom regarding the use of technology and for the ability to check our ego and understand that we cannot do it all, either as a mono-tasker or a multi-tasker.

In the coming months, I will do a follow-up blog post on this book, but in the meantime be encouraged that the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Holy of Holies loves His children. Thanks be to God!

Crosland Stuart, of Crosland & Company, LLC, works with The Collaborative

on vocational guilds and content creation. Additionally, she also works in the areas of

foundation consulting, communications, and is a literary agent.


Receive blog entries from The Collaborative, delivered right to your inbox! 

Do More

Faith & Work Devotional

Sign up to receive a hard copy of the 30-day Faith & Work Devotional: Prompts for Missional Living in Vocation

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Faith and Work Mockup

Or Sign Up for a Free 5 Day e-Devotional