Have you ever found yourself in a situation where somebody is talking to you and in a few seconds, your brain stops paying attention and starts wandering in the La La Land? It happens to me quite often when my brain starts thinking about random things (like vacation plans) in a meeting and then I don’t know what to write in Minutes of Meeting, LOL. I am sure everyone will have their funny stories when they have zoned out during listening to someone, reading a book, watching something, listening to music/podcast or any kind of activity. Why does that happen, have you ever thought about this? I did in-depth research on how to improve focus and increase short attention span and will share with you how can you boost your concentration?
Short span of attention in digital age
Do you know that an average person has an attention span of 8 seconds which was 12 seconds earlier (a few years ago)? Now just imagine how difficult it is to stay focused on a task for hours without getting distracted. Most of us don’t realize that poor concentration and short span of attention is a major problem and how essential it is to improve our focus.
To understand the problem more clearly, let’s assume that your focus is a bucket full of water and every distraction around you and within your mind puts a small hole in your bucket. More distractions mean more holes in your bucket and more water will be leaking out. As a result, your bucket is going to be empty, without any water.
My short story
I was among those people who used to zone out when listening to someone and then asking them “Can you please repeat what you just said” 😀 I got into trouble several times both professionally and personally due to this problem. Also, I was constantly distracted by my phone as I used to get tempted with notifications and couldn’t resist to pick up my phone in one beep or sometimes even half a beep. I found it so difficult to let it go and ignore the notifications.
These distractions had negative impact on my work and productivity. Therefore, one day I decided to become one of those people who can stay focused and undistracted completely. After plenty of research and practicing different techniques, I have listed out things that helped me the most to improve my focus and boost concentration.
If you are having trouble with concentrating on a task for a longer time and you wish to improve your focus, read the post til the end. To fix any problem, you need to understand the root cause hence, let’s first know how our brain functions.
About human brain functioning
Well believe it or not but it is a job to make human brain focus on a single thing when hundreds and thousands of thoughts are trying to distract it all the time. We are living in digital age where we find constant demands to our attention and everything (or everyone) is trying to pull us in different directions. As a result of these distractions, your brain loses its ability to concentrate on one task at a time continuously.
Our brain is exactly like any other muscle in our body. We have to train our brain the same way we train our body to lift weight and strengthen our muscles so they can function better. During a physical workout you tend to train your body to build stronger muscles and improve your stamina. With the help of these 6 exercises you can improve brain muscles and increase ‘brain stamina’.
Tip 1# Avoid multitasking as your mind will be distracted from one task to another and you won’t be able to completely focus on one thing.
6 ways to improve focus and concentration
Some people believe that it is due to aging process but what if you could reverse your age and get your focus back. The below exercises will not only boost your concentration but also help you untangle your thoughts and think more clearly. I agree that it’s easier said than done. With that said, it needs lot of efforts to improve focus and concentrate on one thing for more than just few minutes. And that requires practice as it can’t be done in a single day. Thankfully it’s not impossible and can be achieved by following exercises.
1. Brain Training Games
There are many games which helps your brain improve focus and boost memory. The best part is that you don’t even realize that you are making an effort to build stronger brain muscles. Moreover it’s such a fun way to work on your brain muscles and increase concentration. Games are being designed to hook you completely so you don’t get distracted while playing these games.
Tip 2 # You can download popular apps like Lumosity or Elevate that has ever expanding set of cognitive and scientific brain training games.
Mindfulness is an activity where your mind has to completely focus on what you are doing. It trains your brain to be present actively while doing any task. Short multiple mindfulness sessions throughout the day can train your brain to be involved in one thing at a time.
For example :
- When you are eating food, focus on its taste, texture and the process of every bite getting dissolved in your mouth instead of watching TV.
- While oiling your hair touch your scalp and feel the oil, how each strand of hair is getting oiled, feel the sensation of your fingers on your skin. Try to focus on each moment of this activity .
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha
3. Regular Breaks
In order to focus for a while, you need to allow yourself to take frequent breaks. I personally use Pomodoro technique to improve my concentration. By practicing this, your brain will pay attention to one task as it gets short break more often to wander around. Small intervals have great power to regain the concentration. Hence, taking rest every now and then is extremely important for better focus.
Tip 3# You can use Pomodoro technique which says “ take 5 mins break in every 25 min, 10 mins in 50 mins and 15 -20 mins in every 2 hours”.
4. Plan your day
When you have your TO-DO-List ready beforehand, it’s easier to take action and finish your tasks on time. Having a complete plan of your day gives you opportunity to prioritize your work. This way you don’t only manage to organize all your tasks but also have a clear mind. A clear mind helps in improving your ability to focus. If you don’t have a plan of action, your mind is more distracted with stress, and worries of all pending and unfinished tasks.
Tip 4# Make sure your TO-DO list includes your breaks, short nap, meditation, playing games, your hobbies or anything that is a part of your day.
5. Reduce Distractions
Firstly, minimize as many distractions around you as possible to focus better ( that’s why, the libraries are so quiet). Imagine if you keep getting sound from your phone notifications, people talking, somebody knocking at the door, TV/ music or traffic noise, can you focus on reading a book in that environment? Therefore, find your a place where you feel you can concentrate better.
Tip 5 # Create or discover a happy place for yourself which allows you to get into that concentration mode, to stay focused on the task at hand ( like I have a tiny corner in my house where I write).
Talking about Meditation sounds very cliché and it requires solid determination to start practicing mediation. I was thrilled about the concept of doing meditation but extremely lazy to actually do it. But now I have started practicing it for past 4 months and cant stop praising the benefits I have reaped.
Meditation imparts a great sense of self-awareness, reduces stress and anxiety, increases mental clarity and relaxes the brain. Meditation brings your brain in a state of relaxation and releases toxins. The same way your body muscles are relaxed and relieved of pain after a body massage. Sounds amazing, isn’t it ?
Meditation is extremely important for our mental health, clearing our mind and increasing focus. It can be challenging in the beginning but trust me, it’s worth every second. You can start with a quick 10 minutes meditation everyday. Then, gradually increase the time just like you will increase the weights in Gym. In today’s fast paced life, meditation has to be a part of everyone’s routine for being healthy ‘Mentally’.
Why to Improve Focus?
If you are able to do what you plan to do in a time period which you allocated for that particular task, you are a PRO. When your brain is involved in one task at a time, you pay attention to details, correct errors and produce great results. Better focus can make you achieve more goals faster compared to an average person or yourself when you’re distracted. You are more successful when you are able to finish all the task from your ‘to-do list everyday. More success means more peace of mind because you don’t have backload of undone tasks in your head.
I hope the next time when you are listening to someone you will be able to actually listen. Tell me in the comment box if you think I have missed something. I would love to hear from you and I really value your feedback and suggestions.
Catch you in the next post. Till then #StayHome #StaySafe