It takes half a second to distract the mind from the task at hand and about 20 minutes to get back into a “flow” state.
Here are 10 more simple tips that you can try to sharpen your ability to focus in just 3 days:
11. Empty your mind. Mental chatter is one of the main factors that impede our focus. Worries, strong emotions or tasks that you do not want to forget take up a lot of your working memory and tire your mind. This is why before getting to an important task that requires your full attention, take a piece of paper or open a text file on your computer and write down any task repeated thought, worry, or interesting idea that is running through your mind. This 5-minute “thought dumping” exercise will calm down your mental chatter and noticeably improve your concentration and productivity.
12. Conquer procrastination. Sometimes all the outside distractions and interruptions make it impossible to stay focused on the task at hand. But sometimes we just do not feel like concentrating and deliberately postpone an unpleasant task for later. Whenever you catch yourself procrastinating ask yourself, “Do I want to be done with this task so I will not have to worry about it in the future?” It is easy to tell yourself stories about how much more motivated you will feel tomorrow. But the truth is that delaying something that needs to be done does not make it go away. If anything it tires your mind and provokes a sense of guilt.
13. Make it anti-boring. It is amazing how long it takes to complete a task that you do not want to do in the first place. Motivating yourself into working on something that you consider boring or tiresome for an hour is easy. Motivating yourself to work on a boring task the whole day makes you qualify for the leading role in the new “Mission impossible” sequel.
Whenever, you have to work on something that you already do not enjoy doing, make sure that you introduce some fun into your schedule. Vary different activities. Do not work on the same task for more than two hours. Reward yourself by doing something that you enjoy in between your focus sessions (make yourself a yummy sandwich, order a big Caramel Frappuccino, listen to your favorite song three times in a row, dance in the corridor or plan your friend’s Birthday Party).
14. Narrow down your vision. It may be challenging to concentrate on your project or report if you are surrounded by other people. As it turns out it is possible to narrow down your focus by simply placing your hands on the side of your face and creating “tunnel vision”. Doing this blocks out the surroundings and helps to eliminate distractions.
15. Breathe deeply. When we feel anxious, stressed out our breathing becomes shallow, our body tense and our emotions take over our logical thinking. This process works both ways. Just taking a couple of long slow breaths helps to slow down your heart rate, let go of muscle tension, calm the mind, and improve concentration.
16. Doodle. While many of us believe that doodling demonstrates inattentiveness and lack of interest, the lastest studies reveal that it may in fact help us to stay focused on a boring task by giving our brain something to do. Therefore, next time you catch yourself daydreaming during a long meeting try doodling, playing with your hair or twirling a pencil.
17. Start writing! Writing your ideas or thoughts down is a great way to stay focused on them. Only a few people can write one thought, while thinking about something else. If you notice that your thoughts are wandering astray, start writing what you are supposed to be concentrating on, while saying the words out loud. A pen and paper make excellent focusing tools.
18. Meditate. Meditation is widely used to reduce stress and promote relaxation. However, few people know that regular meditation and yoga practices help to sharpen concentration, increase attention span, as well as improve long-term memory.
19. Do not force yourself into concentration! Never, I mean NEVER, force yourself into anything no matter how beneficial it may seem. It does not help at all. What you fight against – persists. That is why whenever you get distracted, do not beat yourself up for poor concentration or a lack of focus. Instead gently redirect your thoughts back to the task at hand and continue to work on it!
20. Do not sabotage your success! Never tell yourself that you cannot concentrate! By doing so, you program your subconscious mind to poor focus and lack of attention. Ability to maintain laser-like focus is a skill. As any skill it can be learned and improved with a little bit of practice!
“Our thoughts create our reality — where we put our focus is the direction we tend to go.” – Peter McWilliams