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How to improve concentration

Updated on September 2, 2012

Do you need to increase concentration?

Have you had problems with concentration lately? Has your mind been wandering away from the task? Have you come here looking for ways to stay focused on your lessons? Rest assured that you have come to the right place. People often ask how to improve memory without realizing that if your concentration is all over the place then you cannot expect to remember what you thought you have learned or tried to learn. Concentration is the ability to keep your thoughts focused on what you are doing. Your attention and interest is totally engrossed and absorbed in what you are doing, so much so that whatever happens around you is in no way a hindrance to your task. Do you concentrate like that? Do you think you can increase your concentration? Read on... you might discover a thing or two here, which might help you.

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Can you improve concentration?

Concentration is a matter of habit. You can easily learn to concentrate by following some of the tips described below. Concentration, like any other habit, takes time and effort to perfect, but it is definitely possible. Once you have cultivated the habit, you would see that you get much more out of life, not just your lectures and your notes. Improving your concentration is about training your mind to stay focused on a task. Can you do it? Oh yes, all of us can concentrate to a high degree. Have you ever been so caught up in a game that you have been watching that you do not even hear what someone sitting near you is saying? Alternatively, maybe you were too engrossed in a movie or a book, or while working on a painting to pay attention to anything else? Yes, you can rejoice that you have the power to concentrate. Interest is what keeps your level of concentration high. The following passages explain how to work on what you already have and help you concentrate more fully.

The facts behind concentration

Intelligence emanates from one’s ability to control their selective attention

Strategically allocating your attention helps your brain to rewire itself

Brain exercises and games can significantly sharpen your mind

Be interested in what you do

Focus

How to improve your concentration

Pay attention: When you were a child, you may have heard your parents or your teachers telling you to pay more attention to what they were saying. They had to bring your attention or focus back when it wandered away. The first step is taking responsibility for your own thoughts; to bring your attention back to where it should be. “Pay attention” needs to be your mantra for concentration. You need to be aware of the number of times your mind wanders away. Repeat to yourself the mantra to get your attention back to the class, or whatever the work at hand is. You would notice that the times your mind wanders away reduces gradually, as you follow this method for 21 days, the magic number for habit formation.

Active listening: is another technique to improve your concentration. Active listening involves looking the person in the eye and connecting to him/her as he or she speaks. Sitting in a place where you can listen and observe the speaker’s gestures and body language helps improve your concentration. An animated person is often passionate about what he or she is saying. Passion is contagious and you could be swept into that tidal wave, if you even paid a little attention. Taking notes and asking questions are also part of active listening. You should look up this article for more information.

Get more involved: I have mentioned a few things like asking questions, taking notes etc., which works quite well if you are listening to a lecture or a speech. The problem of poor concentration arises more often when you are reading. The problem could be compounded if you have a long chapter to finish or content which is a heavy read. To help you concentrate at such times you need to become more involved. Using the subheadings to ask questions and then exploring the text to find the answers keeps your concentration from dwindling. You could use diagrams or pictures that you draw at that point, to increase your understanding and concentration.
Summarize: After reading a page or a couple of pages of text, summarize what you have learned. Flashcards with keywords or important points are very useful. Highlight keywords or text. Making notes also helps increase your concentration and in making revisions later on.

Improve Concentration
Improve Concentration | Source

Create interest:
Link concepts: Link what have learned to the concepts you already know. Meaningful linking makes each concept and its relationship to other concepts clearer and more meaningful. Connecting objects, ideas or concepts meaningfully helps improve your memory and concentration. Use other effective learning techniques for better memory.

Put into practice: Concentration increases when you are actively engaged in the activity. Try to put the concepts you learn to good use.

Visualize: See what you are learning in your mind's eye. Make it come alive before you. Studies have shown that you remember 90% of what you do, 75% of what you see and 20 % of what you hear. You increase your concentration and memory by a huge margin.

My lack of concentration is due to

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Physical conditions that help Improve conentration

The right place: Concentration is also enhanced or decreased by various physical conditions. Sitting in a place that is free of disturbance, is important. Passageways and places where movement catches your eyes or a lot of action is happening could reduce your concentration. Sitting near a window or in some airy place helps you to concentrate better.

Multi-tasking has been known to reduce concentration drastically. Studies have proved time and again that teenagers who text, surf, talk to friends and try to do their homework, all at the same time, seldom score well in tests. So if you want to concentrate, make sure that you cut out all distractions and switch off your phones.

Taking short breaks: It is well known that you can concentrate only for short periods, at an average of about 40 minutes. Some may have a longer attention span, while others have less. You need to know when your concentration is flagging. Take short breaks before you return to your task. When you take a break, get out into the open and inhale some fresh air. Oxygen does wonders for you, and a change of scene helps too.

Time to think: Often, when you concentrate, you find that various thoughts keep creeping into your mind. Telling yourself, “I won’t think about it”, will only serve to make these thoughts more persistent. It is better to have a time when you can focus on these thoughts and deal with them. When you have a specific time for dealing with thoughts, you could easily convince yourself that you could check on these thoughts later.

What science says about concentration

Starting your work day concentrating on your most important task for 90 minutes

Multitasking is a myth

Attention is a finite resource

Cut out the distraction

You have the power to choose what you want to do with your attention

Physiological conditions that help improve concentration

Eat well: Your brain needs a well-balanced diet to function optimally. Plenty of water, and moderate amounts of sugars and fats are needed for your brain. Make sure you get them from good sources. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish are excellent brain foods, which help increase your concentration and memory.

Sleep well: You need to get at least 8 hours of sleep every day. Burning the midnight oil every day before tests and exams is going to take its toll on your health and your performance. One of the important effects of sleep deprivation is loss of concentration.

Posture and comfort: Your study desks should be comfortable. In addition, make sure that you adopt the right posture. If you are not comfortable, you could end up concentrating less on what you’re doing and more on how you’re feeling.

Exercises for improvement of concentration
There are many games and activities online that could help you increase your concentration. Here are some simple and effective exercises which you can do without staring at a computer screen:
Look at the back of your hand or your watch for about two minutes. Focus on the lines or the hands of the watch [if you have them or watch the counter tick] while keeping other thoughts out. Two minutes, a couple of times every day could help improve your concentration.
Close your eyes, relax, take deep breaths and focus on your breathing. Focus all your attention on your breath and your body as it reacts to your breath. Two minutes of such meditation as you take deep breaths, will increase your concentration. Meditation, especially the mindful kind, has been known to improve concentration.

Concentration does not increase on its own; you need to exercise your willpower and like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the better you become at it. You need to do any of these exercises continuously for at least twenty-one days. Studies show that it takes 15 days for an act to become a habit and another 7 days for it to become established. So go ahead and improve your concentration!

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    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Wonderful tips. By the way I meditate to improve my concentration. And meditation has been a great help.

    • Bedbugabscond profile image

      Melody Trent 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much. I have been working hard to improve my concentration with much success. I am happy to report that many of the techniques you report here really work. One area that I am working on now is active listening. Until I started taking a class in it, I had no idea how complex listening could be!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      What a great hub! I use Luminosity sometimes and really enjoy the games they have. Sometimes I have a problem with over focusing instead of not being able to focus. Thanks for sharing! Take care, Kelley

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Great hub, My problem is as my Mother used to say, " Too many irons in the fire " I can tell you've put a lot of thought and research in this. Very helpful..Thank you.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      Great tips and this is a useful hub for me. I tend to multitask or get interrupted too often. I love your suggestions. Thanks for very helpful advice.

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      These are great tips. As a teacher, I teach many of these tips. I give them "active listening" tests. I have found that the students who follow these tips do much better on assignments, discussions, papers, and tests.

      Great hub!! :-)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      I have to laugh about your tip: get at least 8 hrs of sleep--Oh, so now I understand why I can't concentrate effectively, haha. As a midnight shift worker I am grateful if I get 6 hrs of sleep but I usually average around 4. Last night I slept from 11:30 pm uninterrupted until 5:30 a.m. and was amazed. Great tips and interesting subject though.

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      Vinaya, Thanks for dropping by. I am glad that you testify to the usefulness of mediation to improve concentration. This could be useful to others. Have a great day.

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      Bedbugabscond, Wow this is so wonderful, I love active listening techniques. I taught them to my son when he was in high school and he topped the country wide exams, winning himself a handsome scholarship. I do wish people will take note of what you are saying. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your inputs. Have a wonderful day.

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      kelleyward, it is true that these games help increase concentration. LOL Over focusing is better than being all over the place... but moderation is great me thinks:) Have a lovely day.

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      Ruby, Well your poetry does not sound that way. I bet your concentration has improved much since. Multitasking does make our work 50% slower and less effective says one study...gather your wits about you ...is the way to go. Thanks for such an heart warming compliment.. it is worth the effort. Have a great day.

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      Pamela99, I am glad that you find this useful. I hope that the students who read this find it useful too. Thanks for stopping by. Have a beautiful day!

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      sholland10, I am sure that you are a gifted teacher. I wish my teachers had taught me stuff like this. Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment. Have a lovely day.

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      Denise, LOL I cannot function optimally without my eights hours of sleep. Students need that much sleep to be able to concentrate better.. Since my hub addresses the student community mostly I had to say eight hours of sleep... :) Thanks for stopping by.. I need to stop by at the sandpit :) missing the place too much. Have a lovely day.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Good topic and so well covered. I like your idea of drawing what you have heard so that it is better understood and learned. Your suggestions are great and ones that will help me personally.

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      Teaches, Thanks for that awesome comment. I am glad that you find some of the ideas useful...In fact I draw Bible verses to teach my little ones... It is pretty effective.. Have a wonderful day.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Sofs--I meant to ask, is that a photo of your handsome son studying? :)

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Useful tips and advice

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      Denise.. It is my son Kevin, but this picture was taken when he was down with chicken pox and wouldn't stop studying ... I have been using this picture because this is the only one I have, he won't let me take another one of him studying.. He doesn't want his friends teasing him.. LOL. Thanks for coming back to ask. :)

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      Rahul0324, Thanks for stopping by to comment. I appreciate this very much. Have a lovely day :)

    • profile image

      Chase 5 years ago

      This is a great site with great tips

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      Chase, I so appreciate your comment. Have a great day!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for a super look at improving concentration! This will benefit a lot of people. I did not know that the average attention span is about 40 minutes. I would have guessed half that. I'm glad to know of ways to increase mine and I'm glad to be able to share this information with others.

    • tonie2weeks profile image

      tonie2weeks 5 years ago

      working with all kinds ages in the school system gives me a chance to observe lack of concentration in children. I say we have a "What is next" problem in our homes and classrooms. There is too much activity moving too fast. I am especially fond of the meditative breaks during transitions....Do we all do this during our day? Ask yourself that question. Are we as adults constantly moving and feeling like we must be doing more, getting more etc. The ISAT hass become a home for this in our schools. I know teeachers who have to feed the kids lesson after lesson just to keep up. No time to even soak in what they are learning.... And we need to take those video games and give it to the children a few hours on the weekend.......

    • Taleb80 profile image

      Taleb AlDris 5 years ago

      I printed your hub then I read it carefully, I find it very helpful.

      Thanks for sharing your skills.

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      rtalloni, thank you for your kind comment and share. I appreciate this very much. I am so happy that you found this hub useful. Have a great day.

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      tonie2weeks, You have hit the nail on the head... I wish we had those meditative breaks taught to our children here.. what a wonderful way to collect yourself before a transition. I appreciate your stopping by to leave a comment. Have a great day.

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 5 years ago

      Taleb80, I am so honored, I so appreciate your comment. Have a great day.

    • Paneuromix profile image

      Paneuromix 4 years ago

      I believe that a healthy diet may be the answer to improving concentration. I also think that the brain can get a little help from different substances, How do you feel about using drugs that are active on the brain?

    • sofs profile image
      Author

      sofs 4 years ago

      Paneuromix, having worked in the mental health field for long I am totally against all mind altering drugs... I have seen how they affect people in the long run and would never personally endorse such things. Thanks for stopping by.

    • elijahgod profile image

      Abba Elijah 4 years ago from Nigeria

      Educative hub thanks !

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