I have a confession to make. My attention span is not what it used to be and I know I’m not the only one suffering from lack of focus. In fact, it’s been proven that our individual and collective attention spans decrease each year. The problem, of course, relates to technology, and particularly social media. Through the conveniences of technological revolution, we’ve become almost reliant on receiving succinct information. Luckily, there are ways we can improve focus and concentration on an individual level. The question you’re asking, of course, is how. If you can overcome that short attention span for long enough, read on! What you learn will make it so much easier next time.
How to Improve Focus and Concentration
Improving focus can be tricky, but there are ways. Truthfully, there are many ways to improve focus and memory, however to introduce change (particularly in breaking bad habits or introducing new ones), it’s often easier to start small. For this article I‘d like to offer you 3 key things to remember. Remember, apply as necessary and as fits your situation.
1. Stop Multitasking
You might have heard this before, but there is no such thing as multitasking. When people tell you they know how to multitask well, they are fooling themselves; don’t let them fool you too! If you can’t focus or feel as though you can’t do one thing well because you have too much to do, it is time to readjust. Attempting to multitask complex tasks frequently, only divides your limited focus. Is it any wonder your focus and concentration suffer?
Multitasking, as it turns out, simply employs quick shifting from one task to another. You literally go from focusing on one thing, to the next over and over and over again, sometimes for only seconds at a time. This is not efficiency or training your brain for excellence. This is simply a lack of focus and terrible concentration. By doing this you’re essentially training your brain to only let your attention rest on something for minutes or seconds at a time. Stop multitasking and you will immediately see increased focus and concentration.
2. Practice Self-Control Through Memorization
Building up your focus and concentration relates to your memory. If you practice memorizing things, your memory will improve overall, as will your concentration. Consider the kind of focus required to sit down and commit a long passage from a book, a poem, or a play to memory. You have to stay in one place, practicing repeating the same words over and over again. This discipline requires you to concentrate on only that task, and nothing more.
Pick something you love to read or hear someone else read, and memorize that. For me? I think I’ll memorize Henry V’s St. Crispin’s Day speech at Agincourt. If you haven’t read it, it’s a perfect example of something to memorize. The language is challenging, but interesting. Many of the quotes are familiar, so you’ll find you can focus on it as you go. Plus, imagine pulling a quote from that out at work during a meeting about forging into a new area professionally. “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers!” Whatever you choose to memorize, choose something interesting, and engaging. You’ll see the improvement in focus as soon as you commit and begin memorizing.
3. Eat Right, Exercise, and Protect Your Health
Food and exercise, it turns out, have a strong correlation to your brain’s ability to focus. Eating a balanced diet, avoiding junk foods while snacking, staying hydrated, and making sure you get your three meals a day are keys to success. Learning the habits of healthy eating affect your life in many ways, focus being one of the best. Unhealthy eating habits make us groggy, irritable, and less focused.
Exercise’s contribution to focus is twofold. First, you learn to focus on the task at hand by sticking faithfully to a regimen. Doing so helps you set and keep goals without getting distracted. Second, you increase your energy overall, and thus your ability to avoid sleeping on the job (both figuratively and literally). Getting and staying in shape builds and maintains focus.
One particular exercise that can help you while you sit at your desk, struggling to focus, is eye workouts. The eye is like any other muscle. These exercises help strengthen the eyes overall, as well as helping you refocus and wake up when you hit that 3pm lull.
If you don’t have time for a full eye workout, employ the 20-20-20 rule. That means taking a 20 second break, every 20 minutes you work at a digital screen, looking at something 20 feet away.
Learning to focus and concentrate can be tough. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but don’t give up either. Grade your progress on a curve, and call gradual success a win. If you want to know one thing that can help you focus as you sit in front of a computer all day, try a pair of blue light blocking glasses from GUNNAR. Find out today why they work and how they’ll help you improve your focus and concentration!