7 Tips to Naturally Improve Your Focus & Concentration
In this day and age where everything is broken down into sound bites and Twitter posts many people find it difficult to focus. Our attention is constantly being pulled here and there and scrolling has become a national pastime. You may have heard the headline from last year stating that the average adult has an attention span that is shorter than a goldfish. Well, the attention span of a goldfish is about nine seconds. What does that say about our ability to direct and keep our attention on anything let alone important things like family, conversation and work? Do you have the ability to really listen when having a conversation with someone or are you checking your phone? Can you accomplish tasks at work without getting distracted by every little thing? Life is full of amazing and wonderful things below the surface of headlines and pictures on Instagram. Cultivating a mind that can focus on the task at hand, the person in front of you or a piece of art or literature will bring a multitude of rewards.
Brains are sort of elastic and malleable and can be trained much like a muscle. Whenever you’ve learned to do something you have trained your brain. All the constant distractions in our world have trained our brains to flit from one subject to the next and away from being able to focus intensely on anything. There are many things in life that can be so much richer and more fulfilling when we dive deep and really focus on them. Not the least of which are people. Even if your only goal is to have better focus at work you might want to consider this; Studies have shown that when you have become distracted from a task it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back on track. No one has time for that especially when it’s happening multiple times a day. You can take control and use some or all of these techniques to help train it to be able to focus again.
Use gradual intervals to increase your focus:
One good technique is to use a timer. Set it for the time desired and only focus on the task at hand for that specific time then take a short break. You could start with 45 minutes and then take a 15 minute break. However, to many people that would be like starting running with a marathon! Even if it’s a 10 minute interval with a 3 minute break, focus intently during your 10 minutes and gradually work up over time. This can go hand in hand with the next suggestions.
There are numerous studies that show meditation can significantly increase your attention span as well as giving you stress relief and boosting your mental and emotional health. You don’t have to retire to a cave and meditate all day every day to see the benefits either, 10 to 20 minutes a day of mindfulness meditation ( focusing on your breath while sitting quietly) can give you measurable improvements that can be seen in as little as four days!
Believe it or not, people who exercised moderately before taking a test to measure their attention span did much better than the people who didn’t. They aren’t sure what the connection is but the result was measurable.
With the invention of cell phones there is very little any of us have to memorize any more. We probably can barely remember our own phone numbers let alone anyone else’s. Work on your memory on purpose. Memorize poems or scripture or even a few phone numbers each week. The more you work your brain, the better it will work for you.
Read long articles or books:
In one way it seems like we are reading more because we spend so much time online looking at content. The real truth is that only 25% of people read a book last year. About 5% of people were shown to actually finish an article they started on line and approximately 38% never even scroll past the first paragraph. So if you’ve made it this far into the blog, Congratulations! It’s worth it to explore ideas through the written word and most complex ideas take more than a 140 character Tweet to express. You can use the interval training here too. Set a timer and read for a specific amount of time then take a break. Really focus and don’t let your attention be taken away by anything.
Make a distraction list:
Focus can be difficult and as stated previously it takes a bit of time to get it back again. So next time a thought pops into your head while you’re working about what year a movie was released, who sang that song you just heard or the estimated airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow might be, write it down to look up later when you are taking a break.
You will find out a lot about life in all its aspects if you are curious about it. The same is true with people. Get curious about how things work, what a person is telling you, what is going in the world. Ask questions and stick with things until you have an answer. Actively listen to people when they talk to you. Not only will you make them feel special but you will learn things that you may be the better for.
The long and short of it is that it’s your brain and you need to be in control of it. If you don’t take control it will be taken from you every 9 seconds or less, by something trivial and you will actually miss out on more than if you missed someone’s Tweet or Facebook post. Life it rich and it bears looking into, carefully and with focus.