In a world where social media profiles, games, music albums, and messaging applications can be condensed into one mobile phone, it’s easy to get distracted. And, if you’ve ever struggled with meeting your deadlines, you’d know the importance of staying focused. Working on something without stopping to browse through posts might seem impossible, but simple techniques can help you get there. Here are five ways to sharpen your focus.
1. Do One Thing At A Time
Although we’d all like to believe we’re pros at multitasking, doing 3 things at the same time might be what’s keeping you from finishing your tasks on time. Studies show that habitual multitasking conditions the brain to lock into an overexcited state, which causes difficulties when you need to concentrate. It also has long term and short term implications on memory.1
This also means that you should turn off all notifications on your phone and not use two devices at the same time. Close any tabs that aren’t relevant to the task at hand. If you can’t resist checking your phone every now and then, leave it in another room. These few tips will help you focus on the current task better.2 3
2. Take Breaks
When you’re on a tight deadline, taking breaks might seem counter productive. But, research states that it could actually help you focus better. Instead of getting distracted and taking “a break” from your task, use breaks as a reward system. By doing this, you can control the amount of time you spend on a task and the amount you don’t.
Brief mental breaks help you focus by combating fatigue and reducing stress. This is especially true for long tasks. So, when you have a presentation coming up or need to do a lot of research for a project, make sure to take a few (timed) breaks in between.4
3. Stay Hydrated
Here’s another reason why you should sip on water regularly. Dehydration might have a direct effect on your ability to focus. This might be a bigger issue when it comes to adults.
And, it isn’t just limited to drinking less water. Doing too much exercise (which can be dehydrating) as well as consuming too much caffeine and alcohol might compromise your ability to focus, process information, and retain information. So, make sure you stay hydrated at all times.5 6
4. Set Up A Fool Proof Workstation
A cluttered desk is one that’s full of distractions. So, before you sit down to work, clear your table of anything that’s irrelevant to your task at hand. This includes books, papers, toys, and electronic devices. Make sure to find a quiet spot to work in. If you can’t do so, get noise cancellation earphones or headphones that will help you concentrate. This simple technique will help you finish all of your tasks more quickly.7
5. Meditate Regularly
Apart from keeping you calm and helping you deal with stress, meditation can help you focus on your tasks. Studies show that regular mindfulness meditations that involved breathing techniques improved self-regulation of attention.8
Studies conducted on people suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also state that regular meditation practice improves focus by activating brain regions that are responsible for sustaining and directing attention.9
You could also try the popular Wim Hof method, which consists of a few minutes of hyperventilation followed by breath holding for 2 minutes along with deep concentration. However, there isn’t enough research to back this method.10
If you’re a regular procrastinator, and find it hard to finish your work on time, then these few simple yet highly effective tips can help you do just that. However, it’s important to try all of these tips to see what works best for you. Lastly, ensure that you continue to use one technique or a combination of them for a sustained period of time. This will help you change the way in which you work.
|↑1||Ihnen, Anne, and Carolyn Flynn. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mindfulness. Penguin, 2008.|
|↑2||4 ways to improve focus and memory. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑3, ↑4, ↑7||Gazzaley, Adam, and Larry D. Rosen. The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World. MIT Press, 2016.|
|↑5||Tomporowski, Phillip D. “Effects of acute bouts of exercise on cognition.” Acta psychologica 112, no. 3 (2003): 297-324.|
|↑6||Benton, David. “Dehydration influences mood and cognition: a plausible hypothesis?.” Nutrients 3, no. 5 (2011): 555-573.|
|↑8||Moore, Adam, Thomas Gruber, Jennifer Derose, and Peter Malinowski. “Regular, brief mindfulness meditation practice improves electrophysiological markers of attentional control.” Frontiers in human neuroscience 6 (2012).|
|↑9||Modesto-Lowe, Vania, Pantea Farahmand, Margaret Chaplin, and Lauren Sarro. “Does mindfulness meditation improve attention in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?.” World journal of psychiatry 5, no. 4 (2015): 397.|
|↑10||Concentration/Meditation Limits Inflammation. US National Library Of Medicine.|