Scrambling to reach an urgent deadline, and yet your mind keeps wandering? We’ve all been there. Despite our best efforts, there may be times that our concentration wanes and progress is halted. You’re motivated, but you simply just can’t focus on the task at hand.
The inability to focus on our work even when we absolutely need to is one of the biggest problems of our time. The good news is, there are lots of small things you can do every day to boost your concentration! In this article, we give our top eight tips to improve your focus.
If you find that you can’t focus your thoughts, or find it difficult to concentrate on one thing at a time, then this could be caused by a number of things. There are psychological, lifestyle, environmental, and medical factors that can negatively impact how your brain functions. Depending on the cause, there will be different ways to reduce its impact on your focus. In some cases, you may have to accept the focus dips as they come.
Here are some changes you can make to your lifestyle and environment to improve your focus.
When you’re bombarded with information and stimuli, how are you supposed to focus on one thing?
If you need to focus on a specific task or activity, make sure to schedule it during a time when you can be alone and undisturbed. You may have to go to a different place if you don’t have an office, like a library or coffee shop.
Close your social media apps, silence notifications, and remove any other distractions from your space. Shutting off both internal and external disturbances can help you to focus better.
Similarly, attempting to focus on too many activities at once is a recipe for poor performance and productivity. While multitasking — like taking a phone call while writing your reports — may feel like you’re getting more things done, it can hamper your ability to properly focus on certain tasks. You’re more likely to make mistakes, and also run the risk of burning out quicker.
Many people are skeptical of how mindfulness practices can improve focus, but there are plenty of studies that prove it can. Practices like meditation can reduce stress and anxiety while improving attention span and focus.
During mindfulness exercises, we consciously relax our minds and bodies. This helps take away any distractions or problems we may be preoccupied with, while bringing our attention to what we need to focus on. With practice, this becomes second nature, and you will be able to focus on a particular task in no time.
Sometimes our brain may need a boost to properly focus on something. But, if you’re tired of coffee and caffeine crashes, tea is the best alternative.
Tea contains less caffeine than coffee, and herbal teas have stimulating, clarifying properties that can improve cognitive function and help you focus better.
Of the many herbal teas you can enjoy, Bacopa Monnieri tea is one of the best for improving brain function. Studies show that it acts as a neuroprotective agent, and other studies found that it enhances cognitive efficiency, focus, and working memory — all of which make it a great choice when you need to be on your mental A-game.
Lack of proper sleep is linked to lower alertness, reduced focus, and a slower thought process. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll have difficulty focusing your attention on the tasks at hand. Your ability to work, reason, and use logic may also be seriously affected.
If this is something that affects you, now is the best time to adopt healthier sleeping habits. Make sure to allocate enough time to wind down, go to bed, and avoid any distractions that may prevent you from sleeping.
This might seem counterintuitive, but when you work on something for a long time, your focus begins to die down. As the hours pass, you may feel it becoming increasingly difficult to keep your mind on your task.
After finishing a few hours of work, make sure to take a break. It’s time to stand up, stretch, and scroll through your phone, or have a snack. Studies have found that by temporarily refocusing your attention on other stimuli, your mental concentration and motivation are restored and you avoid decision fatigue.
Music has a profound effect on our physical and mental state. Listening to music is scientifically proven to provide a therapeutic effect, soothing our body and stimulating our brain.
When work is demanding, we may become stressed and fatigued. Some light music may help you relax and focus better. The next time you’re at work, try listening to classical music and nature sounds, which are good choices for concentration.
Have you ever noticed how regularly exercising can make you feel more relaxed and energetic? When we don’t use our muscles, they can become tight — which may cause discomfort and affect your focus. So make sure you’re able to get in a few minutes of movement and simple exercise to rejuvenate your muscles — which research shows can also help improve attention and focus.
Similarly, our brain (which is also a muscle) can become tense and weak without the right exercise. Many studies show that your brain can be trained with games and they are a great way to improve cognitive abilities. Examples of these include puzzles, chess, and brain-stimulating video games.
Our tips to improve your focus may help you if you’re struggling to meet deadlines, are constantly sidetracked at work, or not progressing with tasks. Learning how to incorporate these tips and improve your focus at work is essential — you can get your job done right and on time, and create a less-stressful and more satisfying working experience for yourself.