We live in a day and age where it is harder than ever to find focus and concentration. Between emails, phone calls, text messages, social media feed and the latest YouTube video you absolutely have to see, learning to concentrate and focus is more important than ever.
We all struggle sometimes to maintain focus in our daily lives, but in order to get things done we need to find ways to stop the endless distractions that keep our mind from focusing on the task at hand. It’s magic when you find your sweet spot and can effortlessly get lost in your work. That moment of flow, focus and concentration let’s you blur out the world around you and calibrate your mind to pay attention to that one single task right in front of you. When you can concentrate your entire cognitive effort on that single task, the outside world disappears and you get things done.
The latest complaint physicians hear these days is that people come to them assuming being scatterbrained means they have ADHD and taking a pill is the answer to their problems. This could’t be further from the truth. There is no magic pill to improve focus and concentration, what we all need is a better routine and some simple lifestyle changes and being scatterbrained will be a thing of the past.
Here are our TOP 10 strategies to improve concentration and focus.
#1 Swap Caffeine for a Workout
Caffeine is one of the most popular brain-altering substances in the world. When we use it wisely, it can definitely give us a temporary boost in focus and concentration, because it increases the levels of dopamine, is loaded with antioxidants and increases our alertness. However, the trend is to have lots of caffeinated energy drinks and sodas, which have such high amounts of caffeine that it can lead to anxiety and stress, even full blown panic attacks. So while a moderate amount of caffeine can definitely help increase our focus and concentration, be careful not to overdo it. Instead, swap that caffeine for an energy boosting workout, which is a much healthier and more effective stimulant. Exercising your mind and exercising your body are very similar, but additionally, when you work out, it directly benefits your mind. Research found that exercise especially helps our brain to ignore distractions and zoom in on the task at hand. Exercise also helps build willpower by working through fatigue when you start getting tired, which can be translated into other areas of your life.
#2 Stay Hydrated
Most of us don’t drink enough water and a recent study found that this mild dehydration, that we don’t actually feel, can lead to losing attention and focus. Even when you are less than 2% dehydrated – for example you forget to drink enough water after your workout, your ability to focus and concentrate is already impaired. The solution is easy. Drink more water and increase your ability to focus in no time.
#3 Eat Brain-Healthy Foods
Our brain is a high performance organ and we need to make sure that we feed it properly and eliminate artificial and processed foods from our diet. Sugar especially is bad news. While sugar can give us a temporary mental boost, in the long run sugar will send our ability to focus on a roller coaster ride along with our blood sugar level. Sugar can actually change our brainwave patterns and can negatively impact our mood, ability to learn, memory and concentration. Brain-healthy foods include green leafy vegetables, berries of any kind, fatty fish, nuts, dark chocolate, coconut oil, turmeric and rosemary. They are filled with vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants, essential fats and phytonutrients our brain needs to thrive.
#4 Unplug and Chill Out
It’s no wonder with all the distractions coming from our smart phones and computers every single second that it is hard to focus on the task at hand. Sure, in the short term they can improve our focus with a quick boost of adrenaline, but over time, sustained stress takes a toll on us and our mental powers, reducing our ability to concentrate and focus. Chronic stress can even trigger long-term changes in the structure and functioning of our brain and certain areas can actually shrink. So make sure that every day you dedicate some time to turn off all your electronic devices and do something that relaxes you.
#5 Eliminate Obvious Distractions
Besides our electronic gadgets that provide a constant distraction, clutter is another thing that drains our focus and ability to concentrate. Clearing out the clutter from our lives helps us to relax more, sharpen our focus, be more productive and have the ability to process information better. We wrote a blog article about creating a clutter-free space. Have a look and see how it can increase your ability to focus and concentrate.
#6 Stay Curious
The more curious you are, the longer your ability to stay focused on the things you want to explore. Curiosity gives you the ability stay with the object of your fascination for hours on end to discover every single detail about it, examining it, asking questions about it… The mind is like any other muscle in your body, the more you train it, the stronger it gets. When you follow your curiosity and find that concentrated focus, the more you will be able to focus on other things in your life as well, because you strengthened your concentration muscle.
#7 Focus and REfocus
The key to improving our focus and concentration is what we do when we reach our limit. It has been found that most people aren’t able to sustain focused concentration on one thing for more than 40 minutes at a time, which means that sooner or later, our focus will go down the drain. The trick is to realize that you get close to losing your ability to concentrate and re-focus on the same task. This ability to renew our focus and concentration allows us to pay attention to things longer.
#8 Get Serious About Your Sleep
Our inability to stay focused and concentrate is often times caused by lack of quality sleep. We are talking about missing out on deep delta sleep, the slow-wave stage that precedes REM sleep. This is the time when our brain powers down and certain cognitive functions strengthen and consolidate. If you sleep less than seven hours a night, you are most likely cutting into the delta phase, which makes it difficult to find your focus when you are awake.
#9 Meditate and Practice Mindfulness Throughout the Day
Meditation doesn’t just help us to stay calm and collected, research has now shown over and over again that it can boost our focus and attention span tremendously. A regular meditation practice alters our brainwave state and can inspire creativity, enhance our ability to learn and sharpens our focus. But don’t worry, you don’t have to become a monk and spend your whole day meditating, it has been proven that just 10 to 20 minutes a day will do the trick and you will see amazing improvements in just four days. Besides your daily meditation to enjoy the power of focus, find opportunities throughout the day to practice mindfulness. What we mean is that you simply slow down and focus completely on the physiological and emotional sensations you experience in the moment. For example really focus on eating your food and fully experience its texture and flavors or practice mindfulness when you take a shower. Smell the soap, notice the pressure of the water on your skin. Being mindful on simple tasks throughout the day will help you to eliminate distractions as they come up.
#10 Wiggle Your Toes
We’ve all been there, the constant distraction of emails, texts and social media feed makes us absentminded in conversations and meetings, because our mind is on a million other things. There is a simple trick to get you instantly back into the present moment and be attentive to your conversation or meeting again. Focus your attention on your toes and wiggle them, it’s that simple.
Better focus and concentration makes our life a lot easier and more productive and it can happen to anyone when you incorporate our tips and lifestyle changes. The greatest power of the human mind is its ability to focus on one thing. Imagine you could make that concentration and focus laser sharp and you will be able to accomplish anything you dream of.
ACHIEVE FOCUS AMID DISTRACTIONS AND IMPROVE YOUR LIFE TREMENDOUSLY
Joschi & Monika