Some people take a longer time to start concentrating on their task at hand while others can do so within a few minutes.
If you take more than half an hour to get into the groove and down to work, don’t worry, you are not alone. Plenty of people struggle with this same issue every day.
The inability to maintain focus and lose it throughout the day can be caused by various reasons. Lack of quality sleep is the most common factor. When you don’t get enough rest, you will feel tired all the time, making you feel sleepy, and preventing you from concentrating on your work.
Age is another common reason. As you grow older, you will notice that memory loss comes hand in hand with reduced concentration. Head or brain injuries, such as concussion and skull fracture, and some mental health conditions can also affect your ability to focus.
Getting frustrated when you are trying to tune out distractions and immerse yourself in a particular task is the last thing that you want to do. When you let this emotion take control, you will become more irritated and stressed out, making it doubly difficult to concentrate on your work.
Working on Your Focused Attention
The good news is there are ways for you to improve your mental focus. With the right brain exercises and some changes in your routine and lifestyle, you will have fewer difficulties concentrating on your work, revision, and any task at hand.
Below are the six best tips for improving your mental focus:
Modify your work environment
The place where you work or where you will do something plays a crucial role in your ability to concentrate. Making some changes in this area, therefore, can do wonders to improve your mental focus.
Start by making changes in the temperature in the room. Aim for an above-ambient condition since this can make you feel more relaxed and creative, which, in turn, can help you be more productive.
Simply adjust the thermostat or open or close the windows to get the right temperature in your work area.
Additionally, modify the lighting in your work area. Natural light is always the best option since it helps boost your mood and concentration.
If you work at night frequently, make sure the area is well lit. Working in a darkened space can make you feel sleepy and lose focus easily.
Reduce distractions in your work area
Distractions, even the smallest ones, can prevent you from concentrating on the task at hand. As such, you have to take steps to eliminate or at least minimize them.
If possible, remove any sources of distraction in the room. These can come in the form of a TV, radio, or even your mobile phone. Put them in a place far from your work area so you won’t be tempted to use them.
If this is not possible, impose time limits for your distractions. Create a schedule for checking your social media feeds, for instance, every 30 minutes, and make sure you spend only five minutes doing so.
Do the same if you work in the office. Limit your chats with your colleagues unless they are work-related and important. If possible, schedule these conversations during your break times.
With fewer or no distractions, you will be able to concentrate better on your work or study.
Write specific goals that define your top priorities
When you have many things to do in a day, maintaining focus can be pretty challenging.
Moreover, if one of your tasks includes doing something new or unfamiliar, you will feel a sting of resistance, which will make it harder for you to buckle down and work.
Although you may want to do all these tasks within the day, know that completing and starting them may be impossible.
If you want to be as productive as you can, focus on one task at a time. Write down your most important priorities and the goals that will help you work on them.
Be as specific as you can so you understand exactly what the task is and what it entails. This will help you narrow down your focus and concentrate on what you have to do first.
After completing a task, spend some time looking at the results you have achieved with your goals. This is an important step that will help you improve your mental focus and maximize it every day.
Get quality sleep
Since lack of sleep is another factor that can affect your ability to concentrate, work on getting more of it every night.
Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep nightly. If you have difficulty doing this, try these tips:
- Maintain a cool but comfy temperature in your bedroom.
- Stop watching TV and gadget use an hour before going to bed.
- Read a book or listen to soothing music to wind down before turning off the lights.
- Try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
Keep in mind that lack of sleep not only affects your mental focus; it can also slow down your reflexes and affect your ability to do other tasks, including driving and handling equipment.
Work out regularly
Improved focus is one of the health benefits you can get when you exercise regularly. Because of this reason, include working out in your daily routine.
Even a few minutes of workout every day can help you increase your focused attention.
Working out, though, doesn’t mean going to the gym or for a run daily. Taking your dog for a short walk, doing some light stretching in the morning, and gardening are considered excellent exercises.
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator to go up and down your office or home (if you live in an apartment) makes for a great daily workout, as well.
Also, being physically active stimulates your brain and adds connections in areas that are crucial for preserving cognition and memory during the aging process. As such, you will experience more health benefits when you work out more regularly.
Exercise your brain
Finally, it’s not only your body that you need to exercise to improve mental focus; you also have to give your brain frequent workouts.
Start by playing brain-stimulating games regularly. These include chess, checkers, jigsaw puzzles, word search, and memory games.
When you play these games for several minutes every day, you not only boost your concentration, you also improve your working and short-term memory and problem-solving skills.
If you have some free time, consider learning to play a musical instrument. Knowing how to play the keyboard, piano, or guitar can do wonders for your mental health, including improving your concentration.
Lastly, if you are a business owner or decision-maker within a company, consider investing in brain-boosting workshops for you and your team.
In these activities, a specialist will design a program made up of carefully chosen brain exercises that will help participants enhance their memory, processing speed, creative thinking, and other mental processes.
With these tips, you won’t have to struggle with a lack of focus every time you have to do something important. The best part is they are also doable, so start incorporating them in your daily routine.
Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, an award-winning neurofeedback-centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain’s true potential. Earning a doctorate in Neuroscience from the revered Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Gala has spent over a decade trying to unravel the way neurochemical and neurophysiological changes in the brain affect the way we interact with the world. Her goal is to share her knowledge, encourage others to tap into and expand their brain’s capabilities, and dispel any myths surrounding our most complex organ.
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