Focus is essential to your life; it helps you become productive at work. Increasing your ability to focus can foster creativity, enhance your problem-solving skills, boost your creativity, and reduce the stress associated with handling multiple tasks. So, it is important to learn and teach yourself how.
You can teach yourself to focus by meditating, eliminating distractions, following a Pomodoro technique, and having a good night’s sleep. Focus helps you achieve goals, and when you are focused, you can achieve anything in life.
Successful people are focused on their objectives and goals. As they work towards their dreams and plans, they never let distractions get in the way of what they are trying to accomplish. Read on to learn about ways to improve your focus and concentration.
Meditation is a way of relaxation and concentration that has been practiced for centuries. It is an important practice of Buddhism that originated in ancient India.
According to many studies, meditation can have a number of health benefits, such as:
- Regulate pain
- Battle addiction
- Help handle depression or anxiety
- Decrease stress
- Boost self-awareness and self-esteem
- Improves concentration
Anyone can do meditation. Moreover, you can meditate anywhere if you’ve practiced enough. All meditation requires is a quiet space and a little bit of time. In meditation, you concentrate your mind on a single thought to calm and refocus yourself.
However, meditation is not easy and takes a lot of practice. As a matter of fact, many find meditation difficult because of the increased level of distraction they experience.
The more you do meditation, the better you become. You can easily incorporate meditation into your everyday activities, whether that is through a brief intermission when you’re feeling worn out at your work or a short session before going to sleep.
How Meditation Can Help Improve Focus
Meditation creates feelings of relaxation, peace, calm, and positive emotions. When you take a break from the things that are causing you to stress to refocus, you’re more likely to be able to restart your work with a fresh approach.
Meditation teaches you how to redirect your attention effectively and gives you the ability to better concentrate on the task that currently needs to be dealt with.
Meditation trains your brain to be quiet and calm. In addition to this, it helps train your brain to respond to stressors effectively. Stress responses can be harmful. They can scatter the brain instead of focusing it. However, taking time to meditate can help you decrease stress and calm down.
How You Should Meditate for Better Focus and Concentration
Anyone can do meditation. However, there is no right way or wrong way to do meditation. In meditation, you concentrate on one thing to refocus your mind. You should know that it’s perfectly normal for your mind to wander. When your mind wanders in meditation, just observe the thought itself and return to your focus.
Some individuals meditate while focusing on their breathing. You can stop thinking about other things by concentrating on each breath in and out. You can also meditate while repeating the word “Ohm.”
Sitting still and calm is another important part of meditation. So, remember not to move around. Find a comfortable place and sit down to meditate.
Work hard to stay away from distractions, such as social media, phone notifications, email, or instant messaging. You can put these distractions on hold for a few minutes. You can also shut your eyes or wear headphones to avoid distractions.
The more you meditate, the easier it becomes. Begin with five-minute sessions and gradually work up to longer meditation sessions. Eventually, your brain will be better able to focus more on the work at hand. And you will feel happier and calmer because of meditation.
Distractions are hard to avoid. According to many studies, distractions can lead to a huge loss in productivity. The average manager is interrupted once every eight minutes, and workers generally spend 28% of their time handling unwanted interruptions and trying to get back to work.
So, how can you get your focus back? Here are some of the ways you can reclaim your focus and eliminate distractions.
Stress can make you lose focus, and you may find it hard to overcome distractions. Too frequently, people try to continue performing their duties while feeling stressed. This leaves them unable to concentrate and easily distracted. You’re under increased stress if your attention is easily shifted.
Controlling your stress will help you avoid distractions and get your focus back. You need to discover ways to relax your mind and body to decrease your body’s response to stress. You should get a good amount of sleep to overcome work stress. Apart from this, you should do breathing exercises to relieve stress at work.
Take on Complex Tasks
If you are experiencing difficulty in concentrating and are constantly distracted, it may be that your work isn’t engaging you as much as it should.
Complex tasks, on the other hand, demand more attention than others. When your abilities are challenged, you are more likely to enter into a state where you are completely immersed in what you are doing.
Evaluate the level of unproductive busywork you’re engaging in. Are you experiencing difficulty in becoming engaged in the task? This could suggest that you are capable of taking on more challenging tasks. When you undertake complex work that pushes your boundaries, you can become hyper-focused on the task.
Your mind is wired to concentrate on things that are challenging and novel, and handling these tasks gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Detect Mind Wandering
Surprisingly, people spend 50% of their active time thinking about things they are not supposed to be doing. For increased productivity, you need to observe when your mind is wandering and bring your concentration back on the task you are doing.
It means observing your thoughts and knowing when your mind starts getting distracted. This lets you manage what you concentrate on and redirect your thoughts when you get distracted.
Be in Distraction-Free Mode
Start developing habits that help you remain focused and get rid of distractions. Begin by establishing an environment in which you can completely concentrate on your task at hand. You can use a website blocker app if you frequently find yourself wandering over to youtube videos or websites.
Close your office door to avoid interruptions. Wear noise-canceling headphones as they help create an environment that is free from distractions and ambient noise. Switch off your phone or switch off notifications on your smartphone. Move to a peaceful, quieter place if you work in an open office space.
The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that boosts your productivity and concentration. This simple and effective technique is popular with people who want to improve their work performance and pupils who want to study effectively and stay motivated.
In this method, you set a timer for 25 minutes and totally concentrate on a task for that time. Then take a 5-minute break. After the break, start the timer again for the next session. You’ll be surprised by how much you can get done using this technique.
Why the Pomodoro Technique Works
Sometimes when faced with a big task, it can be overwhelming to get started. By breaking the task into short intervals, followed by short breaks, the task becomes more manageable.
The Pomodoro technique works to train your mind to concentrate and helps you get nearer to achieving your goal despite tons of distractions around you.
Get Sufficient Sleep
Not getting enough sleep during the night can negatively impact your memory and your ability to focus.
The recommended amount of sleep for people aged between 18 and 60 is 7 or more hours every night. Older people should get up to 9 hours of sleep every night.
Here are some tips that will help you sleep soundly and be more productive and focused during the day.
Improve Your Sleep Environment
Here are a few things that you can do to improve your sleep environment:
- Ensure your bed is comfy. And make sure your mattress is firm enough to support your back and sleep position and is soft enough to conform closely to your body’s shape. Also, it should suit your sleeping position.
- Keep your bedroom cool. Keep the temperature of your sleeping room around 65° F (18° C). Plus, make sure it is well ventilated. A very cold or very hot room can interfere with your sleep.
- Keep the noise to the minimum. If you can’t remove noise from traffic or neighbors in your room, mask it with a sound machine or fan. You can wear earplugs to cancel out the ambient noise.
Exercise Regularly During the Day
If you exercise regularly, you will be less sleepy during the day and will sleep well at night. In addition to improving sleep, regular exercise decreases anxiety and stress.
Light exercises, such as yoga, jumping jacks, walking, or stomach crunches, can also help improve the quality of your sleep.
Most importantly, you should time your exercise correctly for good sleep. Don’t exercise too close to your bedtime as it can interfere with your sleep.
Complete vigorous exercises three hours before your sleeping time.
Be Vigilant About Foods You Eat
According to experts, when and what you eat throughout the day affects your sleep. Here are some tips you should take note of:
- Reduce the intake of processed carbohydrates and sugary foods. Gorging on processed and sugary foods, such as pasta and white rice, during the day can keep you awake at night.
- Don’t drink a lot of liquids in the evening. Consuming lots of fluids may lead to frequent trips to the bathroom at night.
- Restrict your intake of nicotine and caffeine. Surprisingly, caffeine can cause sleep issues up to 10 hours after consuming it. Likewise, smoking can disrupt your sleep, particularly if you smoke close to your sleeping time.
- Do not drink alcohol before going to sleep. It’s important for you to know that alcohol can interfere with your sleep cycle.
- Don’t eat heavy meals at night. Eat your dinner earlier in the evening. Other than that, don’t eat heavy foods within two hours of your sleeping time. It’s worth knowing that spicy foods can lead to a burning sensation in your chest and stomach problems.
Regulate Your Light Exposure
Melatonin is a hormone your body produces to regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
And the synthesis of melatonin is regulated by exposure to light. Your body makes less melatonin when it’s light (making you alert) and makes more melatonin when it’s dark (making you sleepy). Here is how you can influence your light exposure:
- Do not see bright screens within two hours of your bedtime. Your TV, computer, and smartphones produce blue light that is harmful to your eyes. To lessen the impact, use light-altering software, lower the brightness on your device, and use devices with smaller screens. Do not watch TV late at night as the light from the device suppresses melatonin. However, listening to audiobooks and music will help you sleep better.
- Ensure your bedroom is dark at night. Wear a sleep mask or use heavy curtains to block light from windows. Remember to cover up electronics that produce light.
- Keep the lights down if you wake up during the night. If you want to move around and need a light, install a dim light in the hall.
Sync With Your Body’s Sleep-Wake Cycle
- Wake up and sleep at the same time daily. This helps set your body’s biological clock and optimize your sleep quality. Go to bed when you feel sleepy and tired so that you don’t toss and turn. If you’re sleeping enough, you should get up naturally without an alarm clock.
- Don’t give in to after-dinner sleepiness. If you feel sleepy before bed, you should do something stimulating, such as calling your friends and relatives or cleaning the utensils. If you give in to the drowsiness, you may get up in the middle of the night and experience difficulty falling back asleep.
Play Video Games
Research suggests that playing video games could help improve your focus. According to a study, playing video games for a short period of time can help improve your attention skills.
Additionally, a review looked at several studies that investigated the effects of video games on cognitive function. The results indicate that playing video games may cause several changes in the brain, including heightened concentration and attention. Additional research needs to be done to support these findings.
Listen to Music
You can enhance your brainpower and creative thinking by listening to some music.
Hearing music can alleviate feelings of stress so you can focus better. According to research, specific kinds of music can be beneficial to you while you work. Some kinds of music help block out unwanted ambient noise. Other kinds of music help improve your ability to process information.
Given below are the four kinds of music that will help increase focus and productivity.
Video Game Music
The music in video games is particularly composed to inspire gamers while staying in the background. It sets the tone and the mood of the video game. However, it never distracts from the goals of the video game. The music encourages a sense of accomplishment while inspiring gamers to get to the next level.
Video game music has a similar effect on office workers. Listening to video game music while you’re working keeps you focused and inspired to complete your work.
Here are some of the best video game soundtracks to listen to:
- The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim:
- NBA Street Vol. 2:
A powerful movie score can make you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile or meaningful, even if you’re doing the most mundane task. Listening to a magnificent soundtrack between tasks can heighten your focus and productivity. Furthermore, cinematic music scores can boost your mood and make you happy.
Here are some of the cinematic movie scores to try:
- The Social Network:
Hearing nature sounds, such as crashing waves, has been shown to boost focus and cognitive function.
According to a study, natural sounds enhance concentration and moods. It found that office workers experienced more positive emotions and performed better when they listened to natural sounds while they worked.
This may be because these sounds helped block distracting noises, such as ringing phones, loud phone voices, sneezing, and coughing.
You can listen to some of the nature sounds below:
- Running water:
- Bamboo water fountain:
- Thunderstorm sounds:
- Waterfalls Bird Songs:
According to scientists, hearing classical music can help you perform your professional tasks efficiently. Efficiency is very important at work. It is the key to achieve objectives, and it is the best way to get your tasks done. When you are efficient, you learn how to prioritize your work and meet deadlines.
Hearing classical music can also improve your memory and mental alertness. Mental alertness is necessary for your day to day activities and carrying out your professional tasks. People who are alert and have good concentration do extremely well in their careers.
Many studies have also found that hearing classical music improves your spatial reasoning. Here are some of the classical music tracks you can listen to at work:
- 6 Hour Mozart Piano Classical Music:
- Bach Study Music Playlist:
Eat Foods That Increase Your Focus
Food is the fuel that controls your mood and energy, both of which can dramatically affect your concentration. Here are some of the foods that will help you increase your concentration.
Nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that is linked with better cognitive performance. In addition to this, they are an excellent source of amino acids and essential oils that help your concentration.
Flax seeds are a good source of fiber, omega-3 fats, B-vitamins, and magnesium, all that help with concentration, weight reduction, and mental clarity. You should know that you cannot eat flax seeds alone. However, you can sprinkle them on salad, oatmeal, yogurt, and cereal.
Dark chocolate can help increase your concentration. It contains caffeine that helps increase mental alertness. Dark chocolates are an excellent source of magnesium, which helps relieve stress. Furthermore, magnesium also stimulates the release of serotonin and endorphins, hormones that increase your mood and make you feel good.
Drink sufficient water if you want to improve your concentration. Water gives your brain the electrical energy it requires to perform optimally. What’s more, water helps you experience greater creativity and clarity. In addition to this, water helps improve your concentration and think quickly.
Fatty fish are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that help improve cognitive function and memory. Individuals who lack these essential fatty acids are more likely to suffer from fatigue, mood swings, and poor memory. Apart from this, fatty fish can help improve your mood and focus. Kipper, pilchards, sardines, mackerel, and trouts are all examples of fatty fish.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green veggies are an excellent source of carotenoids and antioxidants. These substances protect your brain and increase your brainpower. In addition to carotenoids and antioxidants, leafy green vegetables contain B-vitamins that help improve your brain health, focus, and memory. They are also a good source of folic acid that enhances your mental clarity.
Avocados improve blood flow to your brain and heart. These foods are also packed with fiber that keeps you full for a long period of time.
Green tea contains L-theanine and caffeine that help increase your focus. In addition to improving your concentration, caffeine also helps improve your alertness. On the other hand, L-theanine has been shown to increase alpha-wave activity, which raises tranquility.
According to studies, blueberries increase your memory and focus for up to five hours. These fruits are rich in antioxidants that help stimulate the flow of oxygen and blood to your brain. Blueberries contain antioxidants, such as tannins, resveratrol, proanthocyanidins, and anthocyanins.
These antioxidants boost concentration and protect against certain diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
Do Brain Exercises
Exercising your brain can help improve your everyday functionality, focus, and memory. According to a 2015 study, doing brain training activities for 15 minutes every day can help improve your focus.
Here are a few brain exercises that you can easily incorporate into your everyday life.
Learn a New Language
Speaking two or more languages (bilingualism) can contribute to greater levels of creativity and better memory. This is not all. Being fluent in two languages may also help slow the development of age-related mental decline. As a matter of fact, you can boost your focus, memory, and other mental functions by learning a new language at any age.
Use Your Five Senses
Studies show that you can strengthen your brain by using your five senses.
To give your brain a workout, do activities that involve all your five senses at the same time. For example, go to a new restaurant, visit a farmer’s market, or bake a cake while you concentrate on tasting, smelling, hearing, seeing, and touching simultaneously.
Learn New Dance Moves
You can increase your memory and the processing speed of your brain by learning new dance moves.
Try to do any of these dance activities:
- Go line dancing with your friends
- Watch online dance videos
- Learn ballroom dance
- Take a hip-hop or salsa dance class
- Take a Zumba class
Learn Something New
Learning a new skill, such as playing the guitar, riding a horse, or knowing how to fix a car, is good for your brain. It helps strengthen your brain’s connections. What’s more, older adults can improve their memory function by learning a new skill.
As a matter of fact, learning a new skill increases the density of the white matter (myelin) in your brain that helps enhance performance on various tasks. Other than that, learning new things can help increase your learning speed by stimulating nerve cells in the brain and building more neural pathways.
Spend Time in Natural Environments
Getting outside daily, even for 20 minutes, can help increase your focus naturally. You can sit in a garden or take a stroll through a park.
According to a 2014 study, adding plants to office spaces helped increase air quality, productivity, and concentration.
Kids can also benefit from natural environments. A 2017 study found that natural environments could help improve brain health and attention in kids.
You can improve your focus by doing meditation, practicing simple brain exercises, eating focus-boosting foods, and getting sufficient sleep. Meditation can help limit distractions, improve focus, and boost memory.
Playing games, such as memory games, chess, sudoku, crossword puzzles, and word searches, can help improve your focus. In addition to this, brain training games can help improve your problem-solving and processing skills. They also develop your short-term and working memory.
What’s more, foods, such as vegetables and fruits mentioned above, can help keep your brain healthy. In addition to this, you can help improve your memory, concentration, and alertness by adding these foods to your diet.
- Fast Company: 5 Strategies To Eliminate Constant Interruptions
- The New York Times: Distracted? Work Harder!
- Forbes: 7 Ways To Pull Your Wandering Mind Back Into The Present Moment
- CDC: How Much Sleep Do I Need?
- Frontiers: Rapid Improvement in Visual Selective Attention Related to Action Video Gaming Experience
- PMC: Neural Basis of Video Gaming: A Systematic Review
- Fast Company: The New Playlist For More Productive Work: Video Game Soundtracks
- ASA: Tuning the cognitive environment: Sound masking with “natural” sounds in open-plan offices
- PubMed.gov: Enhancing Cognitive Abilities with Comprehensive Training: A Large, Online, Randomized, Active-Controlled Trial
- Pubmed.gov: The relative benefits of green versus lean office space: three field experiments
- Environmental Health Perspectives: Lifelong Residential Exposure to Green Space and Attention: A Population-based Prospective Study
- Steelcase: Neuroleadership and Distractions in the Workplace – Q + A with David Rock