How To Increase Your Concentration
Modern life is all about the interruption. Whether that’s a text, breaking news story or even a colleague breaking your train of thought. Our brains are constantly getting pulled away from what we are trying to focus on and being pulled into different directions. Take this blog post for example, as I’m writing, my husband wants to know whether he should start prepping, a friend of mine has just text to change the date of our next meet up and I’ve had three notifications from facebook about something relatively pointless. Is it no wonder we are struggling to concentrate and get things done in a timely manner?
But fear not, there are some great tips in this post about how to increase your concentration. If you apply these little-by-little, day-by-day, you should feel like you are getting more done and also feeling less exhausted by the constant changing priorities of the day. It’s not good for your brain to be switching from task to task and I’ve covered this in my why am I tired post in the past. If you haven’t read it, pop over now and find out.
When Is It Easiest To Concentrate
The first place to start is with yourself. You need to be honest about when you work best. If that’s the morning, then start the day with the most challenging tasks, the ones that take the most concentration. If you find yourself sluggish in the afternoon or unable to concentrate in the evening, either get everything you need to do done earlier in the day or save easier tasks for that point of the day. It’s not always practical to work this way if you have a shift pattern that dictates a different working schedule to when you are able to perform at your peak, but try and work around it as best you can, that way you can try to increase your concentration.
It’s also important to schedule your day around your responsibilities. If you can get up an hour before your family and get what task needs the most concentration done in that hour, you’ll find you’ll be much more likely to achieve what you need to do and also you’ll get it done in less time. It’s no fun juggling children and tasks that need maximum concentration, you are always going to be on a losing battle there!
Make sure your body and mind is fuelled for the day ahead. It’s widely reported that not eating in the morning can affect your concentration levels. Also dehydration can have you struggling to unpick jumbled thoughts. So eat a protein and carbohydrate rich breakfast – scrambled egg on wholemeal toast, with a glass of fresh OJ is always a winner and will have you on the right track for a day of great concentration and productivity.
Declutter Your Mental List
If you have a mind racing with all the things you are likely to forget, it’s no wonder you are struggling to concentrate. Rather than trying to remember everything, make a list and start working on the hardest ones at the time when you concentration levels are at the highest. No-one can remember everything, so don’t try. There’s plenty of apps and tools out there to help you write down your mental list and manage it. Or if you prefer, just use the old fashioned pen and paper. A list should really help to increase your concentration.
Sometimes your mind can’t concentrate because it is overwhelmed. Take a break, meditate, go for a walk. Just do something else. If you are struggling to concentrate, don’t force it. Do something else and come back to it at a later time. The more you stress about not being able to concentrate, the worse it will be.
Distractions Are the Enemy
This is the number one problem with concentrations and the area you should most focus on if you are asking yourself how to increase your concentration. Set yourself a time, say 20 minutes to complete a task as fully as you can, without doing anything else. That’s no checking emails, no talking to colleagues, no social media breaks and no taking phone calls. Once your 20 minutes is up, then you can do all those things, but again only for 20 minutes and then move on to the next task that needs your attention.
If you time block your day, you’ll find that you actually get progression on what you are doing. It’s fine if your task can’t be completed in 20 minutes, you can do it for 30 minutes, but try not to set the session too long, otherwise you will be tempted by other distractions. You can always do the task over the course of a number of sessions.
Sometimes the distractions are out of your control, but you can do your best to eliminate them. Put your phone on silent. Tell your colleagues that you don’t want to be disturbed for the next 20 minutes. Whatever you need to do to make your situation as productive as possible, try and do it and you’ll find it’ll really help with your concentration levels.
I hope there’s some tips here that you’ve found to be useful. What would you recommend for how you can increase your concentration? I’d love to hear any other tips you have.
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