focus

We all have issues at some point or another with our focus. It’s not surprising after all, as living in this information age, we are bombarded with a constant flow of information from all directions. It can be highly distracting and challenging at times. Here are some ways that you help improve your concentration skills:

Realize the importance of having amazing focus. Think of what this can bring into your life. Accept this as a necessity for your own development as a human being. The mere fact that you are reading this right now shows that you have realized how important this is for you and you are on the right path to fixing it.

Main purpose. Give yourself a main reason for why you need to have impeccable focus. Make it something grand, like a lifetime goal of yours. Something that you will not lose sight of. The bigger the goal, the bigger the motivation you will have behind it.

Understanding. The first step in conquering a problem is to possess a clear understanding of its cause. What could be the root cause of this? What am I doing that could be affecting this? These are the type of questions we need to ask ourselves as we go down the list of possible causes.

What Causes Concentration Problems? There are many type of factors that can affect your focus. Let’s first have a look at the physical factors.

Physical Factors:
● Exhaustion
● Irregular sleep patterns
● Unhealthy diet
● Lack of exercise
● Stress factors
● Alcohol or drug abuse

Look at your diet. Make sure you have all needed vitamins, drink plenty of water, avoid junk food.

Sleep routine. Lack of proper sleep will hinder your concentration skills. Make it a priority in your life to regulate your sleep patterns.

Apply your most energized and motivated time of the day to the most important task you have to do. We all have that part of the day when we are at our peak, and this should be the time when you are working on what is most important to you!

Environmental Factor
● Noise
● Television
● Telephone, internet, and email
● Poor lighting
● Temperature
● Visual stimulation
● Pollutants
● Activity

Take a moment and observe your environment. When your mind is scattered, you might as well be in another place altogether, but when you stop and take the time to observe things and people around you, it’s as if you are being snapped back into reality. Take the time and observe details around you carefully. Could be the shape of your pen, or the colors of the leaves on the tree outside for example. This will enhance your focus and bring you to the present moment.

Prepare your environment. Make sure you have every tool needed to accomplish your task. This is to avoid potential distractions if you need to look for these items.

Temperature. Try to make your environment not too cold or too hot. This can be a subtle distraction, as if your body is not fully comfortable, it will tell your brain that it is not in a proper environment to think of something else.

Block out all distractions for those important tasks. Turn off phones, close emails, chats, etc. Tell yourself, it will all still be there when you get to it later. It does not require your immediate attention.

Personal Factors:
● Personal issues and interruption from other people such as family, spouse, friends, or colleagues

Isolate yourself. You may want to consider blocking out all possible distractions from other people by being isolated from everyone. If you notice that you socialize too much at work, put on headphones or take the habit of not participating in the socializing until you have your work completed.

Psychological Factors. These are the factors that can truly hinder our performance when it comes to concentration. Let’s look at what we can do to overcome these mental hurdles and develop strong focus.
● Boredom
● Daydreaming
● Overload
● Fear
● Guilt
● Mental burnout
● Avoidance
● Intimidation
● Lack of motivation

Visualize it first. See it unfold in your mind completely. This will help make it easier for you to believe you can get it done. If you can easily see yourself doing something, it’s as if you have already done it. Your mind doesn’t know the difference between a clear visualization and reality, remember that.

Understand what you have to do fully. When things aren’t very clear, we tend to stray from it and prefer to focus on something easier to comprehend. Make things as crystal clear as possible, so that you know exactly how it needs to be done. Then, you will find it much easier to do.

Always have well defined, clearly written goals. Make them reasonable, and increase their challenging frequency as you go along.

Assign importance to your tasks. Work the 80/20 method. Meaning that on your sheet of goals, there are two parts. The top part is the top 20%, or your most important goals. The bottom 80% is not a priority at this time. Always focus on that 20%, on what’s crucial, then as you cross things out of the top part, move items from the bottom part up.

Break down tasks into smaller ones, then cross off each as you go along. The visual of seeing things crossed off will motivate you more, and show you that you are indeed competent and can get things done.

Forget about time. When you start looking at the clock too much, you frustrate and stress yourself out. Set a timer to ring when time’s up if needed, but do not look at the time.

Use your senses to your advantage. If you are more auditory or kinaesthetic, then add elements of this, such as moving, talking out loud, gesturing, etc.

“A Few More” Rule. Anything that you do, when initially pressed to stop, do a few more! Could be 5 more, or 2 more. Build mental stamina by pushing past your point of frustration. Continuing to concentrate when your brain is tired is key to building up your brain muscle to get used to doing so.

Bribe your mind. Tell yourself, if I do this now, then I will get to do that later. You CAN bargain with your mind!

Always reward yourself for doing something. When you do something that you should have been doing, there is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself a little. Doesn’t have to be extravagant things, it’s all about the process of rewarding yourself for doing something correctly.

If you have too many things in your mind, write them down, then you can allow your mind to forget about them. You won’t have to worry about forgetting these things, as they will be on paper.

Defeat procrastination by asking yourself these questions:
1- Do I have to do this?
2- Do I want it done so it’s not on my mind?
3- Will it be any easier later?

By asking these questions, you force yourself to face the facts of the situation. Putting it off will NOT help it whatsoever.

Create a physical trigger. Raise your hands to your eyes and ears to block out the distractions around you for example. Like Pavlov with the bell and feeding the dog, you will train yourself to respond to this trigger with more focus each and every time.

Learn to delegate. Can this be passed on to someone else? If so, then why not free up your time, energy, and mental real estate by assigning this task to someone else!

Take a break, but not to focus on something else. Take a break to clear your mind. Meditate, take a walk, or do breathing exercises.

Don’t force out thoughts if they keep coming back. Write them down. Forcing yourself not to think about something makes you think about it. Because of you have to bring it to mind to then get rid of it. So just write it down and thus you can let it go.

Meditation. A mere 20 min per day can transform your entire life. It gets rid of all the clutter in your mind. It regenerates links between neurons and thus makes you more efficient as a whole.

Overcome roadblocks by asking questions. Write them down if you have to, this will automatically put you in a frame of mind to look for a solution. Instead of saying that it’s impossible to solve, ask questions. The answer will come.

Create consistency via habit building. How? Make the commitment to finish your tasks every day for 3 weeks. This is the normal amount of time it takes to inflict a new habit into your routine. After that, it will feel natural to do this every day.

Do something creative. Things like painting or playing an instrument, train you to have much sharper focusing skills.

Patience. You will not have razor sharp focus overnight. This is like a muscle. The more your train yourself, the bigger and better it will become. Just know that every little step, you are improving, and that is a fact.