How to Improve Your Focus

How to Improve Your Focus

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How to Improve Your Focus

In today’s world, being able to focus is almost like a superpower. You rarely see anyone who’s able to concentrate on a single task for hours. And the individuals who are able to focus, to nobody’s surprise, get so much more done than other people. There are many areas where you could benefit from better concentration. Whether it’s for school, studying, work or a hobby. If you’re able to focus you can get your desired results faster. So grab a pen and a piece of paper.

Make sure to write down a few key points about whatever you learn in this article. This way you’ll get the maximum value out of your procrastination session. Let’s dive in.

Remove All Distractions

Let’s say you have 5 units of focus available at any time. That means you can use those 5 units in any way you like. For example you could use them all on studying, thus achieving directed focus there. Now let’s say your mom enters your room, while you’re studying, and tells you that dinner will be ready in 45 minutes. Even if you were super concentrated and even if that interaction only lasted for 10 seconds, your attention is now divided.

Dinner will now be on your mind and your focus will not be as good as it was before. One of the focus units was used on that dinner, taking it away from your studying session. It’s now going to take some time before you’re able to fully regain your focus and you’ll end up wasting your mental energy in the process. 

Now the funny thing is you’re most likely carrying a similarly distracting mom with you all the time. Your phone. This tiny device is the biggest anti-focus machine there is. It rings, it vibrates and whenever you get a new notification it makes a sound. That beep is all it takes, to take your mind off the thing you were supposed to be concentrating on. But even if your phone is on silent, you’re very likely to take a quick look at it, whenever you feel bored.

Thus, dividing your attention. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should throw your phone away or anything like that. Instead I’m simply suggesting that whenever you want to concentrate on something, you put it somewhere, where you know it won’t disturb you and you won’t be able to look at it. That being said, cell phones aren’t the only thing that divide your focus. Anything can do that, but your phone is probably the biggest contributor. The point is to become aware of possible distractions and to avoid them. 

How Your Body Affects Your Focus

Another thing that could be affecting your ability to focus is your physiology. This is something that is not considered often. However, if you want your mind to function optimally, you need to take care of your body. If you’re sleeping under 7 hours per day, your concentration will suffer.

On the contrary, it’s been shown that getting 7-9 hours of sleep, leads to a better ability

to focus during the day. Exercise is also something that should be done on a daily basis. Thanks to the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters, your

ability to focus on difficult tasks improves. By exercise, I don’t mean going out and running a marathon, but a short walk around the block is already sufficient. Bonus points if it’s a walk in nature. Hydration is also very important. You might have noticed that when you wake up in the morning you can’t really think straight right away.

One of the reasons is that you hadn’t drunk anything for over 8 hours, so you’re mildly dehydrated. Your diet plays another big role in your performance. If you’re indulging and stuffing your face with unhealthy food or drinking soda, you’re doing your brain a disservice. Food that is high in sugar content leads to brain fog and the inability to concentrate. You might want to look into some healthier alternatives. So if you want to focus easier, make sure to take care of your body. Now let’s take a look at how to build your focus.

Unstimulated Your Brain

You just need to un-stimulate your brain. And you do that by taking a proper break. You see, it’s very hard to concentrate on something for a longer period of time, without getting mentally tired.

And it doesn’t matter if it’s scattered or directed focus. Both are exhausting. That’s why you need to take a break and give your mind a rest after a while. However, this is where most people slip up. You see, taking a break doesn’t mean pulling out your phone and browsing Instagram, Youtube, or whatever.

You’re still stimulating your brain and you’re still mentally engaged, therefore draining your mental energy, instead of recharging it. What you should do instead, is go for a walk, meditate, or maybe take a nap. These activities allow you to unplug and start recharging your mental energy because they’re not as stimulating.

I know it might sound boring, but you should allow yourself to be bored to give your brain some breathing room. Of course taking a mental break isn’t just for when you want to switch from scattered focus to direct focus. It’s also very useful when you want to extend your ability to continue focusing intensely.

Another way to look at it, is to imagine you’ve been running for an hour without stopping. Then you have a 15-minute break, before you’ll be running for another 1 hour. You can choose to: A.) sit down, relax and do nothing for 15 minutes. Or B.) jump rope and do burpees for 15 minutes.

Obviously you choose option A, as you don’t want to exert yourself even more. You want to have enough energy to run for another hour after all. In this case running is an analogy for focus. When you’ve been focusing for 1 hour, you don’t want to add more stimulation to the mix. You’ll just tire yourself out mentally if you watch TV or browse the internet. So find an activity that suits you, that’s not mentally stimulating and it helps you to disconnect. Personally, my favorite thing to do is to go for a short walk. It helps me recharge mentally every time. 

The Pomodoro Technique

Now the perfect technique that ties intense focus and mental breaks together, is the Pomodoro technique. It goes like this: You choose a task that you want to focus on. Then you set a timer for 25 minutes and do nothing but concentrate on that task. When the timer rings, you take a 5 minute break and restart the timer.

When you’ve completed four 25 minute sessions, you take a longer break, usually consisting of 30 minutes. Of course, it doesn’t have to be so rigid. 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of rest are just recommendations. You can do it for however long you feel like, depending on the complexity of the task. So you should experiment a little and find out which combination suits you best. If you made it this far into the article, good job. Your focus is already better than most people’s. Because this was a long article, I’ll quickly summarize everything I just talked about.

Bottom Line

This is it for this article. Thank you so much for reading till the very end. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed it, and if you did. Hopefully you’ll be able to focus better than yesterday.

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