Looking for ways to improve your focus? Here are eight tips for improving your focus and mental clarity.
Study after study has shown that staying focused on one particular task is far more effective than trying to accomplish several activities at once, or “multitasking.” It’s calculated that multitasking causes about a 40% drop in productivity because of fractured focus. Worse, it could even potentially affect the brain’s structure, as researchers are finding correlations between multitasking on media devices and poor cognition/emotional control.
This means that while you are working, try to set fixed times to do things like checking your email, which disrupt your workflow. Avoid “half-watching” T.V. shows while working on other tasks that should have your attention.
Write It Down
Before you begin your day, think not just of how to focus but what to focus on. You will find you naturally know how to stay focused when you anticipate the starting and stopping points of an activity. Writing down your plan of action and ordering the steps of activities helps you encode the activities into your daily radar. To make it more enjoyable, you might discover the merits of bullet journaling.
Shut Out Distractions
It can be as simple as turning off your cell phone, shutting your office door, or putting on some pink noise to mask distracting sounds. (Note, white noise is often used to describe block-out filler sound, but white noise should not be used long term as it may interfere with the auditory processing and the brain’s functioning; seek out “pink noise” instead.)
Give Yourself S.M.A.R.T. Goals and Rewards
Learn how to map out short-range activities, so they relate to your own goals. For example, if one of the activities you’d like to focus on is quality time with your children, pick a specific activity that will help you achieve the goal of being a better parent—like reading together before bed. If you have a report to do for work or school, focus on the goal of earning recognition from your teammates or getting a better grade.
Your Optimal-Productivity Times
We all know whether we are morning larks or night owls by nature. Humans naturally follow a 24-hour cycle known as a “circadian day.” The productivity app Evernote wants to help you find out your personal 90-minute blocks of premiere productivity that we all have, called “ultradian cycles.”
Healthy Habits and Natural Substances
Healthy habits include getting the correct hours of sleep needed, incorporating focus-honing physical activity, and eating right.
It can also include the judicious use of natural supplements and stimulants. Caffeine has been used for centuries to improve focus, of course, and can be found in coffee and naturally in most teas and cocoa.
Organa Kratom energy products are gaining recognition for being a natural choice when concentration is needed (rather than turning to chemical-laden carbonated energy drinks). The kratom powders and capsules from Organa’s white kratom varieties and some green kratom powders are often used by those who wish to improve focus.
Calculate Time Realistically and Pace Yourself
You can use an app on your smartphone. If you’ve started your day by writing down what you want and need to get done, you can break up your tasks into smaller parts, peppered with short breaks. Breaks are an excellent method for improving concentration and will help you avoid daydreaming and losing track of where you are on a project. Just make sure to take note of where to resume progress when you come back.
Find Joy and Practice Mindfulness
There has been a surge of interest recently in mindfulness. According to Google Trends, searches for the term have increased by 300% over the past decade. And while Amazon lists over 70,000 titles for books on mindfulness, if you’re interested in learning more about being mindful, see this review of 15 of the best. Essentially, learning to be mindful is about clearing your mind by focusing on the present. By giving complete focus to your task at hand and being fully present, you can appreciate small, sensory factors that make life worth living.
In fact, a recent study showed that practicing mindful meditation for just 10 minutes a day can help individuals train their brains and learn how to concentrate.
For an added boost on how to improve focus, several apps may help. Lifehack.org lists 10 apps to improve your focus. Some help you make smarter “To Do” lists, which can help hone your focus, while others will allow you to pinpoint and block online time-wasting sites like social media distractions. Yet others like Luminosity focus on improving your clarity and memory through brain games.
If you consult a dictionary about what “focus” means, it typically will describe the verb of paying particular attention to something. Ask anyone “what is focus,” and they will probably describe something similar. Suppose you ask them for an example in their own lives. In that case, they might mention a favorite hobby or pastime, which can completely consume them, such as a jigsaw puzzle. They may even describe concentrating on a particular detail.
Try these eight ideas to hone your ability to focus; you may find you enjoy life’s daily activities with your newfound focus.