Let's begin the journey of focusing better!
It is undeniably a challenge to pay attention without feeling distracted while working on an important project. This ultimately leads to the failure in meeting important deadlines and the culprit is-lack of focus.
What is focus?
Scientifically, it the term is used to describe the concentration level and centering our attention on a single stimulus. Having a focused mind entails the ability to stay concentrated on the task at hand, without getting distracted by the things magnetically drawing us.
Staying focused refers to taking possession of the mind, in clear and vivid form, avoiding several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought.
For the ones who remain focused for a long time, perform very well in all sort of cognitive tests rather than distracted ones.
Why we lose focus?
Being human we have an ability of pre-eminently thinking of forward and backward. In other words, we think about our past and future and forgets the PRESENT.
Our mind is always filled with thousands of thoughts like how, when, where, what, if, and many worries relating to the past and future. It is better to learn from the past and focus on the present so that our future would be the bright one.
Factors affecting focus
Generally, the human mind struggles with a focus on three distinctive ways:
2. Future achievements
3. Complaining of having limited time
The alarming queries in mind like what happens “IF” grasp our whole attention. We waste our precious time in thinking about what if I could not make it. What if I could not finish the report on time? What if I start losing my friends or if life does not turn out as I expected?
All such worries consume our attention and sometimes stay highlighted. And we find it difficult which thought should be focused to work on first.
Here, we need to free ourselves from these disturbing and worrying thoughts.
Besides, sleeplessness, brain injuries, mental health, and age can also adversely affect concentration. It can further lead to memory loss.
Lack of concentration for not fulfilling the task and delay in making decisions may ignite stress, frustration, and restlessness.
In addition to this, in this high tech world, we are more possessed with gadgets. From getting up, until the end of the day, our life has become a series of screens.
We spend almost half of the time on our mobile, iPad, or iPhone for watching various videos, checking text messages, emails, chatting with friends, and so on.
These gadgets keep on distracting us by tapping, beeping, vibrating, and act as blooper at the time to get important work done.
For example, using mobile at the time of getting up, checking emails or late messages, watching television, and surfing on social sites. These are the biggest distractors.
Some internal distractors should also be avoided like exhaustion, worry, anxiety, need for motivation. These do not show up but disturbs our mind setup and ruins the whole schedule.
It always becomes difficult to concentrate when such disturbing factors struck our mind and we need to work on focus.
Here, we need to change something about ourselves, to improve our concentration levels.
How to train your mind to stay more focused?
1. Creating a Not to-do list
Usually, in the early morning, we make a to-do list or making a schedule for the day, mentioning all-day tasks to be done. However, coincide we must make a list of things that we should start avoiding besides a to-do list.
Means, the things that distract us should be written down in a list that is called a to-don’t-do list. Distracting factors can be highlighted like gadgets usage, negative thoughts, watching t.v. and others.
2. Have a sound sleep
Healthy sleep is required to have a healthy state of mind. A good sleep relaxes our body and mind. After rest, we feel more alert and our brain allows us to have attention and focus.
We can grasp more information, remember things easily, and more creative. Sleepiness makes us lazy and we commit mistakes easily and lose attention towards work.
During sleep, some changes occur in the brain which sets memories and further strengthening the link between brain cells and transferring information from one brain region to another.
Many kinds of researches have been conducted to know the link between focus and sleep. It is concluded that our proficiency and concentration becomes higher after having adequate sleep, as the memories and skills are shifted to other efficient and permanent brain regions. (1)
It is also concluded that learning things before sleeping helps in remembering the information better in the long run. Even it helps in generating new ideas, high productivity, and creativity besides remembering.
Generally, experts recommend 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation or occasional sleep deprivation may cause many issues including lack of concentration and low productivity.
So to improve focus we need to improve our sleep.
3. Do physical exercise
Physical exercises enhance concentration and memory. We know that exercise not only makes us physically fit but also protects us from various memory disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The secret behind is that when we do some physical activity, new brain cells are born in the hippocampus- the brain’s gateway to new memories. Being physically fit, we also get a mental focus. (2)
In a study, it was concluded that exercises can improve concentration and attention after four weeks. (3)
Another study depicted that moderate exercise can stop and reverse the memory loss. (4)
To remain focused at work, we can avoid distractions by indulging ourselves in some exercise especially aerobics. These are energy booster. Our mind starts working faster after having a session of aerobics.
4. Stay connected to nature
Try to explore nature to improve concentration. Taking a round of a green park, sitting in our green lush backyard taking deep breaths, and feeling oneself sitting in the lap of nature, gives peace of mind and enhances focus and productivity.
Every natural environment has benefits. These days we usually spend or most of the time in cabin or office building and when we have access to nature in our surroundings, it reduces mental fatigue and improves attention.
The Journal of Environmental Psychology reported that a view of nature for just 40 seconds can boost multiple networks of attention hence sharpening the mind to manage the various task of the day. These are known as micro-breaks. (5)
If possible have green plants in the office. Evidence showed that greenery in office spaces helps in maintaining concentration and potency. (6)
5. Meditation and mindfulness
In today’s hectic world we are much occupied with complex multitasking schedules. For relaxation, we must try mindfulness meditation which helps to perform varied tasks and remain focused.
A meditation session of 20 minutes can provide us a lot of energy that the whole day our concentration remains the same. But for this, we need to practice this exercise.
It means disengaging ourselves from all thoughts that come to our mind and concentrating on the process of breathing.
Likewise, inhaling a long sigh steadily without thoughts and holding for some time and then releasing the breath slowly. Rehearsing and practicing the same activity with routine can increase the focus and attentiveness.
During working hours, mindfulness simply means focusing completely on the task, observing everything at that very moment. It can be practiced at the time of eating, like observing the flavors of food while chewing the meal, rather than watching t.v. or using gadgets.
Moreover, walking on the green grass barefooted and enjoying the smoothness of the wet grass.
In simple words, trying to feel, observe the present moment with intensity.
6. Reading activities
Reading is a sort of mental activity, likewise physical activity to the body. In this activity, our brain works on connectivity.
With just reading at some particular place we can take a route or wander to various places like space, time, history, far places, even can trap in emotions and concepts of knowledge.
It increases brain connectivity to various factors and also increases attention, focus, and concentration. When we start reading, we put all our attention towards the text to understand the particular topic, putting the rest of the world aside and hence practicing attention and focus.
Besides, it is also said, being lost in a book is the ultimate relaxation.
7. Listen to music
When we listen to music it enhances cognitive functioning, optimizing the ability to concentrate, increase overall worker satisfaction.
Even if, we may not like music at the workplace yet with a few minutes of music session we regain our concentration, and our brain functions accordingly.
Moreover, focus also differs according to the type of music. According to experts, classical music or nature’s sounds are good options to help increase our focus.
8. Attention to diet
Never skip breakfast, it strengthens our brain cognitive level. The food we eat affects our concentration levels. Oatmeal, fruits, yogurt, whole-grain toast all good breakfast items.
Eating junk food, sugar, oily food, and processed food can adversely affect cognitive function like memory and concentration. For enhancing focus should include spinach, blueberries, eggs, or fatty fish food in the diet. (7)
Improper diet or skipping meals may lead to a lack of nutrients and feeling tired, sluggish, and irritable. This also affects our ability to concentrate, hence leading to a decrease in our performance and productivity.
9. Concentration exercise
To take our journey of improving focus ahead, it is recommended that one must try some exercises that enhance . It will enable us to train and discipline our minds by performing some simple exercises, or playing games.
Certain games like Sudoku, crossword puzzles, chess, or memory games should be played for developing concentration and focus. In a study, it was suggested to spend 10-15 minutes daily on such games, to make a big impact on concentration, short-term memory, and problem-solving skills.
10. Take regular breaks
Small breaks are necessary to ensure mental stability and thereby, improve focus. This particularly holds true in the cases like preparing for exams, planning and executing a project that demands a lot of mental energy, initiating something new on the professional front and organizing something on a huge scale.
These short breaks help us in resetting and resuming to work or study with complete focus and act as a impactful power supplier of attention.
In order to achieve the desired results through a good performance, it is necessary to stay focused at all levels of the task assigned.