The ability to focus and concentrate on a single task is crucial for success, but it can be difficult in today's always-connected world. Emails are often sent at all hours of the day with new tasks or reminders that need attention. Facebook notifications pop up every few minutes, text alerts, calls and countless other distractions which challenge and impair our ability to focus. If you're looking for ways to improve your mental focus and concentration, these tips will help.
Evaluate Your Mental Focus
Before you start working on improving your mental focus, it's important to evaluate your current situation. It may seem like you're constantly distracted, but is that the case? Are all of those distractions legitimate, or are some just in your mind? If there are many real distractions around you and they're affecting your mental focus, then work on ways to minimize them as much as possible.
It is also important to evaluate how strong your mental focus is. Your mental focus is good if:
It is easy for you to stay alert and concentrated on a task
You have the endurance to complete tasks without getting tired or bored.
You can stay focused despite distractions, long periods with no breaks, and changes in routines.
Your mental focus is not so good if:
It's difficult for you to stay alert and concentrate on tasks
You daydream easily
You can't track your progress on a particular task.
Exercises for Mental Focus:
The Pomodoro Technique is a simple technique that can help improve mental focus and concentration. Set the timer on your phone to 25 minutes, and then work without interruption until it goes off. Take a five-minute break before starting another Pomodoro session, or go back to doing whatever you were doing previously until your task is completed.
Focus is often improved with physical exercise, so get moving and improve your mental focus at the same time.
Take breaks to alternate between working on a task for 45 minutes followed by a 15-minute break or 20-minute work sessions followed by two five-minute breaks to keep up the momentum. Working without interruption means that you are moving towards the right path to achieve mental focus.
Find Creative Ways to Limit Your Focus
Multitasking is a great way to have some hours where you feel productive, but it does more harm than good. It makes it hard for people to be detail-oriented and lose focus on what's essential when trying to do many things at once.
One way to improve focus is to limit the number of tasks you undertake simultaneously.
Try thinking of your attention as a spotlight. It can be pretty powerful when you maintain this focus, but unfortunately, the light will only illuminate one small area. It would be best if you widened the beam to tackle more extensive areas.
To improve your mental focus, first, assess how you spend your time. One helpful point is to reduce the amount of multitasking you do and instead give full attention to just one task at a time.
Focus on the Present
It's challenging to stay mentally engaged when you are lost in your memories, worry about the future, or dismiss the present moment.
Many people have heard of "being present," perhaps through yoga teachings and other mindfulness practices. It's all about clearing away distractions, whether physical (your mobile phone) or psychological (your anxieties).
Being present in the moment is just as crucial for recapturing your mental focus. Living in today, being aware of what's happening now, and staying engaged with these details helps keep your attention sharp and entirely focused on the task at hand. It will take some time to practice this habit, but you can learn to live in the here and now.
Mindfulness & Meditation
Mindfulness is an important skill when you want to stay on task in a distracted world. To practice, do things such as take two deep breaths before tackling tasks; even rather than check your email, get up and stretch.
Practicing mindfulness can be as simple as trying a quick and easy deep breathing exercise.
Start by taking several deep breaths while focusing on each one of them. When your thoughts naturally drift, gently guide it back to the breath, you’re taking.
The idea of not being able to remain focused might seem like an easy task, but this is much more difficult than you think. Fortunately, there's something that can help with your concentration and staying on a task that you can do anywhere and anytime - breathing!
Short Mental Breaks
If you are trying to focus on a task for a long time, you might need to use a short break. This will give your brain some time to rest and process what it has been working on for the last while, enabling you to return with more focus than before.
It's important not to get too wrapped up in something that doesn't provide any stimulation or enjoyment. For those extremely sensitive to distraction, taking a few "time-outs" from concentration by switching focus can have dramatic effects.
So, when you are working on a long-term project, like your taxes or studying for an exam, be sure to give yourself intermittent mental breaks.
Shift attention to something unrelated between small tasks to sharpen concentration and maximize performance when needed.
Building your mental focus can seem like an uphill battle, but it is achievable with the right approach. Becoming aware of the fact you are being distracted from personal goals and values, and to what degree is the first step to addressing the problem.
If you're struggling to achieve your goals and find yourself constantly getting sidetracked by unimportant details, it's time to start focusing on your mental strength.
By building your concentration skills, you will find that you can achieve more and focus on the things in life that truly bring you success, joy, and satisfaction.