There is so much that could be taking your time and attention, but not all of it is important. Concentration, focus, and attention span are all related concepts that the world could use a little more of. Imagine how much more productive and less stressed out you and the people you know could be with increased levels of focus. This is both a simple and complex topic, and science has some ways to help you zone in your thoughts and get focused on the task at hand.
Why We Struggle with Focus
There are many different causes of a lack of concentration. Stress and anxiety can occupy one’s mind and make it difficult to pay attention to a particular task. Chronic tiredness is another major culprit. Although not always immediately recognizable, this condition can seep into other areas of school, work, and study, making it impossible to deliver your best.
It can also be difficult to focus when there is something more important or more urgent in the back of your mind. There is an overabundance of small distractions such as entertainment and social media fighting for your attention. Many times, underlying conditions such as illnesses, trauma, or the influence of medication and drugs can affect someone’s ability to pay attention as well. The list is endless, and whatever stage of life you are in, you should think about the reasons that often affect your own concentration levels.
3 Tips to Boost Your Concentration
Many books have been written on distractions, focus, and what it takes to get into that space of high productivity. Children today are inundated with so much more visual and sensory stimulation. They need to learn the secrets of concentration early on to help them cope in this fast-paced world. That brings us to the first science-backed tip—practice makes perfect.
Focus is not something that can just be put on and put off easily whenever it is required. Many experts have likened focus to a muscle that needs to be build up and exercised regularly. Research done shows that when we let ourselves get carried away with times of no focus or discipline, when it’s time to get serious again, we are likely to struggle. So, make sure you exercise and strengthen your ability to focus.
Many experts also point out that your location also plays an important role in weather you can concentrate or not. You may manage to remove most of the distractions around you, but sometimes shifting where you are can do a world of good. Tim Ferris, who is an expert on productivity, describes focus as shutting yourself in with the task at hand, with nothing else in the room. Many neuroscience studies have confirmed the power of a changed environment on your ability to focus. Instead of putting pressure on yourself to muster the willpower and motivation you need to work, consider changing your workspace. As you begin to associate certain areas with focused work, this can pave the way for new habits and new levels of productivity.
Getting enough sleep is another vital key to concentration that cannot be ignored. During crunch times, we rely so much on caffeine and energy drinks to keep us going. You might have had to pull an all-nighter to meet a deadline. All these coping mechanisms may be helpful in the short-term, but accruing a huge sleep deficit has adverse effects in the long-term. Sleep deprivation leads to restlessness, poor concentration, exhaustion, and even a poor mood.
Concentration is important if you want to accomplish any huge task. In addition to exercising your focus muscle, finding a good location, and getting enough sleep, planning your productive time and being proactive about putting away distractions are also important.