Something that many of us have problems with today is how to focus on any type of activity we do.
This time we are living is kind of crazy: we are constantly bombarded with news on television, social networks, cell phones and the Internet in general distract us with their photos, funny videos, or their shocking notes …
And let’s not talk about the obsession that exists to achieve perfection, to be the best and stand out, which in most cases sets us off the path of doing things by focusing on them to do them quickly and running – and get to meta – , but with worse results.
Here I am going to share with you how to get your attention back and be able to focus on the things that really matter to you. I know you can do it because I believe in you.
These are the 10 strategies that I use to focus better on my tasks.
However, the first thing you should do is look at the big question you may be asking yourself: why does it seem more difficult to concentrate now than a few years ago?
This is the reason…
1. Concentration is a muscle
Throughout the day, much of your time is spent using applications on your cell phone, checking your emails, watching television and logging onto Facebook.
Those are bad habits that you should eliminate from your life if you want to be more productive.
Why? Because the time you spend on them is time without concentration (to watch TV or watch Facebook you don’t need much attention). And this is where the big problem comes from.
When you spend too many minutes in activities that don’t need your attention, you gradually lose that ability. And when the time comes to focus on an important task, you do it worse because your brain is not used to it.
Concentration is a skill that we must train, just as we train the muscles of our arms with weights to make them stronger.
The longer you spend doing concentration exercises, the stronger you will become in that regard, and the easier it will be to focus your attention the next time you need it.
A good exercise that I recommend – and that is also proven by scientists and is very fun – is to play a game with a specific mission.
It does not matter what type it is: it can be from a video game on your computer or on your Xbox or PlayStation, to a board or card game.
The important thing is that you have a final mission (win the other person, score certain points) and that to reach the goal, you have to create a strategy to focus on.
2. Clear your head
You want to focus, but you’re worried about the next 900 things to do next or the next day. That’s a big problem.
The unresolved issues in your life not only distract you: they also make you more stupid.
What you just read is true. Thinking about something you should do next creates a problem in your head called “attention residue.”
This means that when you are thinking about something else, your mental power decreases to do the task you are currently executing.
So the solution is to eliminate your worries. And the best way to do it is to write them down on paper.
When we think of something important, we are afraid to forget it, and our brain goes round and round so that it does not happen. And we don’t remove that thought until we write it down to remember it.
That “space” of our mind is kept busy all the time, and that’s why we don’t focus as we should on the current activity that we are doing.
So the best thing is that if you have some pending task to do, write it down, forget it, and clear your head to focus on what is at the moment.
3. Find the ideal environment
Concentration is actually the ability we have to eliminate the number of options we give ourselves to procrastinate (delay or leave important tasks for another time).
It is not a magical ability that some people have and others do not.
And the best strategy for not distracting yourself or tempting you to do other things than your obligations is to find a good environment in which you can focus.
If you have a room in your house, a place at work, or even somewhere outdoors where you feel more focused and inspired, go there when you need to focus on doing an activity that requires your attention.
If you need to lock yourself in your room to finish that important job or to study for an exam, do it.
4. Take away distractions
It is important that you focus away all those distractions that may surprise you while you are performing an important task (especially if they are voiced).
Turn off the notifications on your smartphone or set it to silent. Make sure that your computer does not warn you with a sound when you receive a new email.
Pick up the phone to not receive any calls at the moment (unless you are expecting an important one).
You must stop being in a way that whatever is around you can make you react, and divert attention from what you are doing.
5. Sleep the hours you owe
Do you know what is one of the main reasons you spend so much time on the Internet and watching TV? Because of lack of sleep.
Scientific studies have proven that when you don’t get enough hours of sleep, that causes your will and your self-control to decrease when you need to avoid bad habits like watching meaningless kitten videos on YouTube (yes, they are very funny, but they don’t really give you anything).
By not getting enough sleep, your emotions get out of control and your concentration levels fall apart.
Compare a day in which you slept your 8 hours with another in which it was only 5 hours: on which day do you feel more irritated, clumsy, and more nervous, and on which day do you have more energy, are you happier and more focused?
6. Take a walk
A walk, or any other type of exercise that you like, are excellent ways to increase your concentration and be more productive.
Walking for example will help you get away from all the worries you have at home, at work, or from any distraction responsible for diverting your attention from what you do.
But what is more important: it stimulates the circulation of your blood throughout your body.
This is how more oxygen reaches the brain and endorphins are released, which are responsible for making us feel good and putting us in a better mood.
In this way, your brain will be more prepared to concentrate and you will feel more motivation to focus on your tasks.
7. If you have trouble concentrating, change the steps
Another strategy that very few people know, but that is very effective when, despite all your efforts, you still find it difficult to concentrate, is to change the procedure or the way you do things.
Sometimes habit and routine tire us out and make us see a task boringly before we even have started.
When you notice that you are going to start an activity that you used to love, but that over time and its repetition has become a bit tedious, try changing the shape, the place, or any of the steps.
- If you always do your work in your room, try taking your laptop to a coffee shop or park to do it there.
- If every Sunday you have to prepare meals for the whole week, put on some music that motivates you if you never listen to songs while you cook.
- If you always study for your exams in your room, go to a library to study or to a friend’s house and ask each other the topics.
These small changes will give you extra energy and motivate your brain to re-focus properly.
8. If you need great concentration, do it in the morning
It is scientifically proven that our brain works best in the morning, and that is when our levels of productivity and attention are highest.
It is the time of day when we are most rested and reach a greater concentration on what we do.
That is why you must leave for this part of your day the activities that involve the most effort.
Get organized the day before or schedule your week on Sunday to do those tasks that are heavier than the others first thing in the morning.
Do you have to make several important calls that are boring for you? Do them between 9 and 10 in the morning. Do you usually run and exercise but have a hard time concentrating on it? Do it after getting up and having a good cup of coffee.
9. Take short breaks
As I told you at the beginning of this article, we live in a world that is increasingly overwhelming. And taking short breaks while doing something important is usually not well regarded (especially at work).
But you know what? A break from an activity of great mental effort helps your productivity, after that pause, to be even higher.
By doing this, the muscle I told you about in point 1 recovers and makes it easier to use again later.
Specialists often recommend that for every 50 minutes of work (which is the maximum time that a person can maintain their attention), rest between 5 and 10 minutes.
Be careful: resting does not mean checking your Facebook, your emails, or watching a video. What it means is to disconnect and relax.
You can go to the bathroom if you are at work, and close your eyes for 5 minutes. Or put on a song that relaxes, motivates or makes you happy, and listen to it while.
10. Practice meditation
Until not long ago, most people saw meditation as something “esoteric”, or something that was useless, or even an invention for hippies.
But more and more people are starting to practice it, and it is because they have realized that it is an exercise that has been practiced for thousands of years (especially in India) and is excellent for training the brain.
With meditation, you will get used to concentrating better and faster, and recently a medical study showed that it prevents aging!
You can search for a video on YouTube to make it in a free space you have of the day. You can even download meditation audios, and listen to them at night in your bed before going to sleep.
This technique aims to focus on something specific; Normally, the first exercise is usually to focus on your breathing and, if something distracts you, you must start again.
This is why it is such a great way to exercise your concentration while releasing nerves, tensions, and getting to know yourself better.
And you, what strategies do you use to focus better on your tasks? Leave me a comment below and tell me what you think.
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