There are various methods that can be used to increase concentration including making a to-do list, turning off all other interruptions and even jotting down the little things.
Focusing on daily tasks has become a struggle for many people and with today’s age of technology a lot of people have become adept at multitasking. Movie time is never limited to just movie time – it can now be clubbed with games on the phone or working on the laptop or even something as mundane as texting. This reflects in a lack of focus elsewhere as well such as work. However, it is important to focus in order to perform a function to the best of one’s ability. There are many ways one can train their mind to focus.
Make a List/Prioritize
The lack of focus for many people arises from the fact that they have no idea what they have to do and they go through their day blindingly doing what comes up. This results in a lot of people either feeling like they haven’t accomplished anything at the end of the day or feeling worn out from doing way too much work. The solution to both the problems is to make a list. Make a list of all the things that you would want to accomplish in one day. It can be made the day before or a week in advance, as long as such a list exists. It will help you plan out what needs to be done and how much time you should allot that particular task. Next, do not simply make a list and go through it one by one – prioritize it! Make sure your core tasks that need to be done are on the top, while the rest of the less important items follow after.
Turn off all other disruptions
A chunk of the people who have trouble focusing find that they are often distracted by other items such as cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc. These disruptions are the most common cause of disruption. When working, it is essential to turn off all devices and find a place where it is quiet and you can focus on the task at hand. When doing something important, make sure you focus on that task and that task only.
Do not MULTITASK!
This leads to the next point – try not to multitask. A lot of people pat themselves on the back at their ability to juggle multiple things at the same time such as watch a movie, study, work and even have a conversation. They may be able to do all of this at once, but they will not be able to their best. This is commonly because it divides your focus. Instead of having one task that is done to the best of your ability, you’d have four tasks that are done adequately. Also, it would take up far more time rather than reduce the amount of time. Do one job, finish it and then move on to the next. Nothing is so important that it cannot wait, turn off the TV or put away messaging till you have finished what work you have.
Map out when one focuses best
This essentially means that the time when one’s focus is at optimum is usually different for everyone. For some they are best able to focus in the mornings, others at night. This period is essential as no matter how much one tries, they may not be able to focus unless it is during that particular period. When do you do your best work? Figure it out. That paper you got an A in, what time did you write it? That presentation that your boss condemned you for, what time did you work on it? Try to find that time and then allot your core and important tasks during that time. If you are a night owl, make sure you allot your more important work then.
Have the right environment
Having the right environment just as important. If the environment isn’t right, your focus will waver. If you are working in the living room with the TV on, you won’t be able to focus on work but rather focus partially on what’s going on the TV. This wavering results in a higher amount of time needed to finish the work and will not result in your best work. Find a quiet place with the least amount of disruptions and then work. At work if your coworkers are noisy, ask to change your place. If that doesn’t work, try noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs. Ensure that your work place helps you focus and not takes away from it.
Reward is important, it is how you can push yourself to work harder and faster. After working for 30 minutes, ensure you take a 10 minute break and do something you like. If you can push yourself to study for an hour, take a 20 minute break to play a game or reply to your messages or chat with a friend. However, ensure that you do not exceed your break limit. This reward system allows your mind to refresh itself and also helps retain more information.
Build up your focus stamina
If focusing without getting distracted is not your forte, worry not as there are exercises that one can do in order to train their mind. You can help increase focus by working on a task for 30 minutes straight, if you can accomplish that then reward yourself. Then get back to work and see if you can push that 30 minutes into 40 minutes and then 50. Keep going to see how long you can continue to push yourself and keep yourself working on a task.
Do tasks that help build focus
If constantly working does not work for you, then there are also other activities that you can do. These activities include meditation and reading that requires one to focus and apply concentration. Follow a similar pattern, meditate for 30 minutes and then reward yourself with a break. Then push yourself to meditate for longer periods. Similarly, allot yourself time to read in the day. This can also be 30 minutes before bed. However, ensure that you fully understand what you read and if you don’t, go back and read again and again until you do.
Try to consume less carbohydrates and refrain from having unhealthy snacks. Hunger and lethargy are also two reasons for lack of focus. Instead have ready with healthy snacks such as fruits, granola bars, salads, carrot sticks. It is also important to be hydrated, hence carrying a bottle of water is recommended.
Make and follow a routine
Routine allows you to keep on task and gives you a purpose. Routine is important for one to function. Have a routine set that includes the time you wake up and go to sleep. Try and form a routine that does not have to change way too often, but a little variance is not a problem. Routine also helps you place more focus on the task rather than having to place that task sometime in that day.
Studies show that people who work out even 30 minutes in a day, often have more focus than people who don’t. Working out not only keeps your body healthy but also your mind. In addition to working out your body, you can also do puzzles (Sudoku, word search, etc.) to challenge your mind.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ method, hence one should try and use as many as you can. If any of these steps cause more distraction rather than help it, discontinue it. Try and find methods that keep you more focused, notice what you do that helps you relax and concentrate better – use that method and apply it in other tasks as well.
Image Courtesy: vkool.com