How to Improve Your Focus and Concentration
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Pieces
Is staying focused in today's constantly changing and connected world challenging? Getting anything done between work emails, text messages, news, and social media alerts can feel impossible. Research indicates that collective attention span is on the decline. That means people lose interest in conversations, news, and tasks faster than ever. However, value strategies can sharpen your concentration skills.
How to improve your concentration.
Trouble concentrating is more than a lack of focus; it affects everyone differently. Some might have difficulty making decisions or meeting deadlines, while others might frequently make minor mistakes or lose things. But, no matter which symptoms you experience, concentration problems are frustrating. If you are not feeling as sharp as you would like, consider research-backed methods to boost your concentration and memory.
Constant interruptions from coworkers, family members, or phone alerts can make concentrating difficult. In fact, after an interruption, it can take up to 20 minutes to refocus and get back on track. But eliminating those distractions is easier said than done.
These tips might help:
Find a quiet workplace.
Tune out the noise by closing your office door. Or try setting up at a local library or a laid-back coffee shop. If you cannot find a quiet place to focus, consider investing in noise-canceling headphones. These gadgets will block out sound and help give you a calm workspace wherever you are.
Listen to music.
If complete silence is not your thing, a little music might be a better option. For some people, music can improve focus. But, research indicates that the type of music you listen to matters. Slower music at quiet volumes may boost concentration more than uptempo music at high volumes. Repetitive songs may be more helpful when focusing on reading tasks.
Make a to-do list.
Some people cannot function without a to-do list. Others find these lists intimidating or overwhelming. It might be worth revisiting if you have tried a to-do list unsuccessfully. There are many ways to keep a list, from bullet journaling to using an app. So, do not be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you.
To get the most out of your to-do lists, try the following:
Focus on one thing at a time.
Multitasking involves switching between two or more tasks to do them simultaneously. You might alternate between a conference call, checking your email, and thinking about the next item on your to-do list. It is a familiar scenario for many but not an efficient use of time, and it can drain your ability to concentrate. Research indicates that people who multitask complete tasks with less accuracy and speed than those who focus on one thing at a time. The same research notes frequent multitaskers may also have long-term and working memory problems.
To avoid multitasking, try:
Take breaks throughout the day.
It might be challenging to comprehend, but taking breaks can help you focus and accomplish more. Time-chunking is a simple way to add short breaks throughout your day. For example, you can organize your workday into 30-minute blocks of time. That means you work on a task for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. Also, your phone does not have to be off-limits all day.
Connect with nature.
Green space is vital when it comes to sharpening your cognitive skills. Spending time in nature may improve your memory and attention span, among other benefits. You can thank a variety of outdoor stimuli, such as the sight and smell of flowers or the sight line of green trees, for the brain-boosting benefits. So, try to take your breaks outside when possible, and if you live or work in an urban area, look for a park where you can exercise or meditate to clear your mental clutter and refocus. If that is impossible, consider adding some greenery to your workspace. Doing so could improve concentration, productivity, and work satisfaction.
Mindfulness is a great way to stay focused on the present moment. It involves observing your thoughts, feelings, and environment without judgment. Research shows it lowers stress, improves working memory, and increases awareness.
Staying active has many benefits, many of which go beyond weight loss. In addition to improving heart health and boosting your mood, regular exercise could sharpen your concentration. Research studies found that aerobic exercise and a healthy diet may help adults prevent age-related cognitive decline, explaining that active adults have better cognitive (mental) flexibility, which allows them to change perspective, focus their attention, and process information.
Train your brain
You know your body needs exercise, but what about your brain? It turns out that exercising your brain with certain games and activities can improve concentration, and it does not take much time to do so. Five days a week and just 15 minutes of brain training may sharpen your cognitive skills. It includes concentration, problem-solving, and memory tasks. Participants who incorporated various activities had even better results than those who focused on one training method.
Brain-training activities might include:
Eat a healthy diet.
A balanced diet supports your physical health and mental well-being. Certain foods like leafy greens and fatty fish may be especially good for your brain. However no single ingredient can improve focus, but sticking to a well-rounded diet has been linked to better brain health.
Consider these nutrition tips to power your body and mind:
Have a little caffeine.
A little caffeine in the morning might do more than boost your energy. Studies show that low to moderate amounts of caffeine may improve your ability to focus. It has also been linked to better short-term memory, less mental fatigue, and enhanced problem-solving skills. But remember that moderation is vital, and everyone responds to caffeine differently. So cut back or stop the caffeine if you start having jitters, headaches, or trouble sleeping.
Get more sleep.
Your brain uses sleep and needs adequate sleep to function at 100%. This is why researchers have established a link between a lack of sleep and poor memory and concentration.
To get a good night's sleep, which is 7 to 9 hours for adults, try these sleep hygiene tips:
What can cause you to lose focus?
Everyone gets sidetracked, but several factors can make concentrating especially difficult.
A few examples include:
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