In today’s world, an overabundance of information and a large number of distractions is making it increasingly difficult to concentrate on performing the necessary tasks. If you’ve ever found it difficult to get through a challenging task at work, studied for an important exam, or spent time on a finicky project, you might have wished you could increase your ability to concentrate. Concentration refers to the mental effort you direct toward whatever you’re working on or learning at the moment. It’s sometimes confused with attention span, but attention span refers to the length of time you can concentrate on something.
The methods below will train your ability to concentrate, while not taking you from your usual activities.
Make it a part of your morning routine. From the entire array of tasks, select 1-3 of the most important, during which you need to give all your best. It’s necessary to train your focus on the most critical and essential tasks. The desire to do a large number of functions simultaneously lowers the concentration and quality of the work done. And to make this process more efficient, highlight not only these three tasks but also visualize them. Imagine how you will do it, what the result will be, what emotions you will experience. It will load your subconscious, and it will work on their implementation all day.
2. Find your peak hours
The concentration of attention depends not only on your efforts but also on genetics. The productivity of the brain is mainly responsible for the biological clock. Your body has gaps when it works at its best. There are other periods when you feel weak and lack motivation. Observe yourself for several weeks, setting the most important tasks at different times of the day. Keep in mind that your productivity also changes during the week. Some days will seem more productive than all others. Celebrate such days and hours. Over time, you will receive a ready-made schedule for the most critical and complex cases requiring high concentration.
3. Train your attention just like muscles
It is possible to work non-stop on one task for more than an hour; for this, it is necessary to train this skill. Everything is similar to sports. At first, it seems impossible for a person to run a marathon, and after daily practice, he smoothly overcomes this distance. You can do the same with your brain. First, make your work cycle short, as, for example, in the well-known Pomodoro technique: 20 minutes of work, 5 minutes of rest. Over time, increase this limit by 1-2 minutes. Soon you will be able to work productively for an entire hour, devoting minimum time to rest. Keep in mind that you should focus on one thing. Constant switching of attention (the notorious multitasking), on the contrary, only weakens your focus.
4. Practice mindfulness
The practice of mindfulness (or awareness) means nothing more than focusing on the current moment. And it’s not important what exactly you are focusing on right now: work, walk, talking with a loved one, a trip to public transport or even your breath. The keyword is concentration. Once you decide to practice mindfulness, you should forget about everything else; about the past and the future, and live in the present moment. Feel the surrounding smells, carefully listen to every word of your interlocutor, consider the chaotic pattern of asphalt at the trolleybus stop. Just focus on what you are doing at this moment. The unique charm of this method is that you can engage in mindfulness anywhere, anytime.
5. Practice meditation
Another method that directly affects the brain’s ability to concentrate on meditation. It’s confirmed by numerous studies, which showed that the constant practice of meditation significantly increases the amount of attention. In a study, 60 participants completed a 3-month meditation practice under the guidance of experienced mentors.
Throughout their studies, they periodically tested for cognitive abilities. Scientists have found that almost all participants have learned to maintain concentration much longer. The subjects rechecked after five months. The improvements remained the same, especially for those participants who continued to meditate every day after the experiment.
Physical activity has a similar effect, like meditation. In other experiments, scientists suggested that high school students solve problems associated with concentration in the normal state, after a 20-minute rest and after a 20-minute walk on a treadmill. Scientists recorded the neuroelectric activity of the brain. As a result, it found that the walking group demonstrated the best performance. Both tests and Electroencephalography (EEG) data confirmed this.
7. Take time to relax
To become a champion in weightlifting, you need to train a lot, eat a lot and relax a lot. Take away at least one component, and, at best, you will not achieve results, and at worst, you will get health problems from exhaustion. If you want to become a champion in concentration, this is the same for you. You cannot remain concentrated all the time. The more you work, the less you relax, the weaker your brain, and its ability to focus on something.
Conversely, just 5 minutes of rest after an hour of work allows you to recharge the batteries and again move forward with high productivity. But only if the rest was right. You must completely switch from the current task to something else. If you have been sitting at a computer for an hour, do physical activity for the next 5 minutes – even if it is just a walk.