Most people struggle with concentration every now and again. The modern technological inventions such as phones and tablets buzzing every few minutes have shown to be making it more difficult to concentrate on one task for a long period.
But if you find yourself wondering how to focus better on a regular basis, this article has 10 strategies and tips for you to try…
But first of all… what is focus?
What is focus?
If you are focused on the moment, you are concentrating on it to the exclusion of all else.
If you have focus, you are able to shut out anything not related to the task at hand in order to give it your full and undivided attention.
How to improve focus
If you need to know how to improve memory and focus, whether for life in general or for work purposes, there are several things you can try:
1) Prepare yourself
It’s difficult to focus if you’re uncomfortable and not ready to get down to business.
Even some relatively simple steps like making sure your chair is at the right height and that you have plenty of legroom can help prepare you – physically – for the task at hand.
Mentally, it’s worth taking a couple of deep, calm breaths and thinking about what you need to do for a minute or two before you start. It’s basic mindfulness.
Literally taking a breath and planning where you’re going to start can make the beginning of each task – at least – feel manageable and let you focus on it just that little bit better.
2) Try task planning
You can try going one step further than mental task planning of the jobs in front of you:
- 1. Try making lists of the jobs you need to complete.
- 2. Break down any larger goals into smaller tasks or objectives (this gives you a sense of purpose and progress as you keep ticking them off).
- 3. You can do this for smaller daily or weekly goals as well as larger monthly, yearly or life goals.
3) Turn off all your devices
In the modern world, we can be constantly besieged by bleeps and blips and flashing lights calling for our attention.
This is all the worse for the fact that bowing to the urge to turn on Facebook or Twitter usually leads your brain to reward you with a small hit of dopamine. This makes it even harder to resist the next time.
Unfortunately, smartphones, tablets and other devices are massive focus and time sinks…
If you’re looking for one easy tip for how to improve focus and concentration in the modern world, turning off your devices would be it.
It might make you feel a little bit uncomfortable if you’re used to having them around all the time to get you through the day.
It may take you quite a while to adjust to the idea that the world isn’t going to collapse around you if you don’t check your news feed in the next half an hour…
Eventually though, you’ll find that your mind adapts to your new world. Instead of wondering how to focus on reading the article in front of you, you’ll forget that you ever used to get distracted in the first place.
4) Take a break
If you’re sitting there repeating “why can’t I focus?” to yourself over and over again, it’s best to take a break.
Even a minute or two strolling around the room, having a little stretch, looking away from the thing you need to focus on can be hugely beneficial.
Getting out of the house or office to take a short walk in a natural setting like a park can do wonders to reset your focus.
There are several motivational and focus-maintaining methods based on building breaks into your working day. The most famous of these is probably the pomodoro technique. Check it out!
5) Take care of yourself
This is more of a holistic approach than most of the other suggestions on this list. But taking care of yourself can make it easier to focus whenever the occasion calls for it.
Make sure that you:
- Get enough exercise (going for a little walk or jog makes for an excellent break too!)
- Get enough sleep
- Eat as healthily as you can (too many processed foods and junk foods are rarely a good idea)
6) Check the temperature
When it comes to how to focus on work, one of the most important factors governing how easy you will find it will be temperature.
Several studies have been done which pin-point the ideal temperature – somewhere just over the 21 degree Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit mark seems to be popular – but any temperature where you don’t feel too hot or too cold is, of course, the best.
If you are somewhere you don’t have control of the temperature, make sure you bring extra layers or some sort of cooling device (perhaps a hand-held or electric fan) to compensate.
7) Take a serious break and reset yourself with a vacation – or ayahuasca…
Smaller breaks are all well and good. Sometimes though, you need to completely unplug for a while.
For many people who struggle with losing concentration and focus regularly, a vacation can be a great way to hit restart on your mental processes.
If you want to take it one step further, the reason why many people visit us here at the Spirit Vine Center is to address issues which can affect the ability to focus.
In some ways, an ayahuasca experience – to extend the computer restart and unplugging analogy – is like resetting your internal CPU. It has been used for this purpose (though certainly not in those terms!) by various peoples in South America for thousands of years.
Ayahuasca is well known for its purgative properties, it helps the system to flush out toxins and blockages that keep us from performing at our highest level of alignment with our essence, and consequently we reach a higher state of focus.
8) Make a playlist – turn on your music
If you want another smaller cheat for how to focus your mind, music is the answer.
Unpredictable background noise such as shouting or noisy refurbishment work can be very distracting and even irritating if you can’t focus.
However, playing music that you like can improve your working potential – there have even been scientific studies which prove it!
Choosing the type of music can also make a difference. After all, those sounds are tuning your mind to a certain state. So the more focus oriented music you choose, the easier it will be, in comparison to chaotic or distracting music that makes you want to escape.
9) Try the “five more” rule
Whatever you’re up to, whether it’s studying a book or going for a run, try thinking “just five more.” It might be five more pages or five more minutes at the task at hand.
This works because you can often get a mental or physical second wind if you push through the initial barrier. If not, managing just five more gives you the perfect excuse to take a well-earned break.
10) Do one thing at a time
One final cheat for how to increase focus comes from the old adage “take one thing at a time”.
This is perhaps the oldest trick in the book – and for good reason. Not only does it encourage you to focus on one task to the exclusion of all else, it gives you a manageable objective after which you are allowed to take a break because you accomplished what you set out to do.
When it comes to how to improve focus, that’s everything wrapped up in one neat little package.