‘I keep losing focus’, complains Noreen. ‘I wish I could concentrate better’, says George. Do you hear yourself sometimes saying this?
There are so many things to think about that you just cannot seem to concentrate properly, anymore.
Concentration is the ability to focus upon one thing at a time. This is not necessarily an easy skill to develop and retain as life, for all of us, whether we are working from home or in the workplace, has so many disruptions.
Some of us pride ourselves on being able to do more than one thing at a time but the chances are that instead of doing one task well, we manage to do several tasks not so well. The reason being that trying to do too much contemporaneously usually leads to poor performance or mediocre outcomes.
Distraction and Boredom
You cannot concentrate properly until you stop yourself from being distracted! Now this might seem obvious, but we can fail to take the requisite action to either remove the distraction from us or to remove ourselves away from the distraction.
You may have a mountain of paperwork to do in your home office or in the workplace which is piled high on your desk. Every time you look at it, you feel overwhelmed. Sound familiar? You cannot bear to face it and so you look for any excuse to be distracted so that you don’t have to address the problem. However, the longer you leave it the higher it becomes!
Do you spend time on your Facebook or Twitter account when you should be using your mental energy to address a work problem? Admittedly, it may be more enjoyable because it doesn’t require effort. But you are not paid by your employer to chat with your friends online – that’s just a distraction. So, if you want to play an active part in being sociable online, then schedule a time – your own time – to do so. Don’t get caught up with ‘chat’.
Your mobile phone
If you jump every time your mobile phone rings, the chances are that you are addicted to it. I was having a zoom call with a client the other day and we were having an in-depth conversation. The phone rang and I had expected him to stop talking to me to take the phone call. Imagine my surprise, when he said that the call could wait until we had finished our conversation. He explained that he had trained himself to listen to his messages only at set times during the day so that it wouldn’t break his concentration. ‘Good discipline!’ I thought! I wonder how many of us do this ourselves.
There are many things that can worry you and get in the way of your concentration. And often financial or relationship problems can also affect your sleep. Sleep deprivation occurs when the lack of restful sleep is severe enough to compromise basic body functions and this can certainly bring about a lack of ability to focus upon necessary issues the following day. Everyone needs adequate sleep.
There can be nothing more important than the ability to concentrate – particularly when driving and we hear of many sad cases when individuals decide to risk accidents when driving by looking at their satnav or talking on the phone – and it is at times like these when accidents can occur because of lack of vital concentration.
8 Easy Ways to Help You Concentrate
- Make a note of every time that your mind wanders. Add a timeline and describe what you were doing when it happened. See if a pattern emerges.
- Make sure you exercise regularly during the day to help improve the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain.
- Give your mind a quick break every 30 minutes or so. Have power naps to improve your concentration!
- Every 20 mins, look away from your monitor or laptop and give yourself eye breaks. Try the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away and for at least 20 seconds.
- Practice doing one thing at a time. Sit back and feel the sense of satisfaction after completing one specific task, properly and within schedule. The feel of euphoria will last for a long time after and carry you forward to your next task.
- Anticipate distractions and discipline yourself not to get caught up with them. If you are working from home, beware of the friendly neighbour who wants a chat. Or if you are in the workplace, think of a way to keep a chatty colleague away when you are trying to concentrate.
- Your bed is where you sleep, and your desk is where you work. Make sure you have a very rigid demarcation line.
- Turn off your notifications and alerts on your phone! Not an easy one but certainly can be done.
Do one task at a time – efficiently
Avoid distractions that kill concentration
To be productive, we need to focus