our 36 hour day is bound to lengthen

These days, many people are feeling a tad, well … thin. Like pulled taffy. There’s good reason for this.

These days, many people are feeling a tad, well … thin.

Like pulled taffy.

There’s good reason for this.

Every day, North Americans squeeze 31 hours of activity into the run-of-the-mill 24-hour day, says a report commissioned by MTV Networks and online research firm OTX last year.

“That’s from being able to do two things at once,” said Colleen Fahey Rush, MTV’s head of research.

Two things? Whatta newbie. Many people are juggling three, or more tasks at once.

And it’s not just youngsters listening to Crazy Frog at ear-threatening volumes while Instant Messaging their peers the latest YouTube video either.

It’s older folks listening to a podcast of This Week In Media (work or play?) while raking their winter-ravaged front lawns and calling their squirrel-crazed dog back to the yard.

That is, we’re distracted.

Using an online sample of 4,213 people, the OTX study found that respondents engaged in 15.6 hours of leisure activity a day — including nonmedia activities like shopping, socializing and eating.

Almost one-third of that time involved multitasking activities.

And, you know, that makes it tough to relax.

When you have a free minute, you have to choose between relaxing with a simple coffee, reading a magazine, novel or paper, watching TV, noodling on the ‘net or listening to Pearl Jam’s latest album.

Difficult choice.

So, apparently, many of us choose several of the available choices.

Across the culture, it’s attention deficit disorder writ large.

And it’s a problem for advertisers, who are finding it increasingly difficult to get our attention.

But don’t worry. They’ve got a few ideas.

Media executives are charting how their ads work on blog sites, game platforms, portable devices, cellphones and the many other varied conduits to the consumer cortex in our mind.

They’re measuring our “level of engagement.”

They are beginning to rank where the multitasking mind puts the majority of its attention.

So, the shows, sites and publications that hook the consumer the best — catching and holding their attention — will command higher ad rates than ones that are easier to ignore.

The good news: Content will improve.

The bad: Content will improve.

So, if you’re feeling thin today, prepare yourself — your leisure choices are about to get more diverse, and harder to ignore.

It’s tiring just thinking about it. (RM)