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5 Tips to Gain Better Focus

Updated on December 29, 2015
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How We Lose Focus

While having lunch with my daughter the other day, she asked me what was wrong. "I am trying to gather my thoughts.", I expressed. "Yeah, me too.", she replied. I am usually pretty mindful and found this a bit distressing. So I decided to "mindfully" eat my lunch. It was delicious!

A bit ironic, this happening to me a day after I had professed "Focus", to be my power word for 2016! So what causes us to have a lack of concentration?

Other than some obvious medical conditions; General Anxiety Disorder; Depression; PTSD; PMS; CFS and many more, some of us are just plain overwhelmed. We are overstimulated and completely distracted. Do you know that there is an app that helps you restrict time from Facebook so you can get some real work done?[1]

Yes, it has come down to this! But at least technology has provided some solutions to the problems it has created.

Various Causes for a Lack of Focus/Concentration in Adults

Common Causes
Other Causes
Anxiety
Obstructive sleep apnea
Insomnia
Stress
Cannabis or Marijuana use
Postpartum depression
ADHD
Pick's disease
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Premenstrual syndrome
Depression
Panic attack
Brain injury
Sleep apnea
Cocaine abuse
PTSD
Source: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/symptoms/poor_concentration_in_adults/causes.htm

Tools to Improve Your Focus

There are solutions to better our focus or concentration to fit all ages, cultures, intellectual and spiritual preferences.

  • Dietary - reduce or completely remove sugar from your diet, avoiding certain food coloring.
  • Stress Reduction
  • Self Care
  • Hobbies
  • Fitness and wellness programs
  • Work/Life balance
  • Reducing time spent watching television and/or electronic devices
  • Attending Church or Temple
  • Yoga and Meditation

Below are just a few suggested methods to develop better focus.

Source

Avoid Electronics for the First and Last Hour of Each Day

Suffice to say, we are a culture of excess. Our collective drug of choice is "more". Smartphones, tablets and laptop computers are a perfect example.

Go to any coffee spot and you are bound to see groups of friends taking selfies or food pics, posting or texting. Others are working on their laptops while waiting for their food with the intention to close their notebook as soon as they are served. If they manage to do so, soon they find themselves engaged on their smartphone without realization.

I know this because I am just as guilty. Fortunately, I am married to a man who is practically a technophobe. He is sure to give me "that look" if I pick up my smartphone while we are engaged in nourishing our bodies with what the Good Earth has lovingly provided.

Not only is it a Feng Shui sin (if there is such a thing) to have electronics in the bedroom, but the medical field also recommends against such a travesty! It is suggested that you avoid all electronics for the first hour of the day and the last hour of the night. [2]

Does this idea seem too difficult? It could be. But it is probably well worth it. So go ahead and shut it down...if only for two hours a day.

Identify

Do You Set Aside Time Away from Technology?

See results

Time Management

Browsing through any bookstore (storefront or online), you will find a plethora of time management literature. For good reason. Not only does time management create better focus, it also improves our quality of life, our personal and community relations as well as our career performance.

Though the number of time management books on the shelf may seem overwhelming, it does not have to be as complicated as it appears. Just find one book or resource that works for you and stick to it. There are numerous programs for various personalities. [3]

Ask yourself this one question, "If I had an extra 3 hours a day, what would I do with that time?" Then write a list of all the answers. The list alone will prove to be worthy of your investment in a personal time management system.

The one program I have used for several years is called, "Getting Things Done". It is 5 easy steps:

  1. Capture - This would be your inbox (paper and electronic)
  2. Clarify - Trash, File for Reference, Assign Action Items, Delegate, or Schedule.
  3. Organize - Placing action reminders on the right lists by creating lists for the suitable categories—calls to make, errands to run, or emails to send.
  4. Reflect - Reviewing your lists often and trusting your choices about what to do next. Establishing a weekly review to get clear, current, and creative.
  5. Engage - Using your system to confidently take the right actions.

This system has worked so well for me and I have had the fortunate opportunity to continue my education in the past year. I never thought this to be possible! In addition to the book "Getting Things Done", David Allen schedules many public events throughout the U.S. each year. These seminars are well-attended and engaging.

Again, there are several; time management programs that work just as well for others. So take some "time" to research them and chose one that appears to be more conducive to your lifestyle.

Get your Doodle On!

Believe it or not, doodling has been proven to increase your concentration level. Studies have shown that during long, boring calls or meetings, those who had doodled remembered far more than the non-doodlers. [5] This leaves one to ponder why the big box companies have not capitalized on this er...um, "hobby".

Regardless, the cost of notepads, colored pens, and pencils is probably far less than the dry cleaning expense due to spilling coffee on your dress while trying to multitask your thoughts.

When I was a student, I didn't even bother wasting the paper. I just drew on my jeans or sweats during class, not realizing how advanced this method really was.

Some famous doodlers include:

  • Bill Gates
  • Lyndon Johnson
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • John Keats

Meditation

It goes without saying that meditation is a cure-all for a good amount of what ails us in our global community. Each culture has its own form of meditation:

  • Quiet Meditation
  • Guided Meditation
  • Gong Meditation
  • Singing Bowl Meditation
  • Vipassana Meditation
  • Zen
  • Taoist Meditation
  • Beats
  • Transcendental Meditation
  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Moving Meditation
  • Yogic Meditation

We have the option to be creative in our meditation. Recently, adult coloring books have become all the rage. It is said that coloring is a form of meditation.

I love sounds. Even the sounds of traffic on a busy street will inspire me to close my eyes and bask in the moment.

Each season provides its own noise. Some are pleasant - think birds singing (spring), some not so pleasant - loud children at play in the street (summer). Fallen leaves blowing in the autumn wind, and festive holiday music in the winter. All these reverberations are necessary as our world continues to revolve around the sun.

This moment - just enjoy the noise, or the quiet, whichever is your preference and meditate.

Essential Oils/Aromatherapy

Essential Oils (EO) and Aromatherapy have long been known to assist in better focus and concentration. You can diffuse these oils in many ways; on a tissue, straight from the bottle, in a humidifier, or with an oil burner.

These are the oils known best in helping with focus:

  • Thyme Linalol
  • Fennel
  • Basil
  • Cypress
  • Lemongrass
  • Cinnamon
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Litsea Cubeba
  • Linden Blossom
  • Lemon
  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood
  • Juniper
  • Ginger
  • Clove
  • Nutmeg
  • Rosemary

[5]

If you feel led to begin an aromatherapy ritual, I highly suggest you purchase a book that explains essential oils in detail. Scent can be very powerful.

There are many companies who have staked the claim of the only effective, pure, etc. Essential Oil provider. I am no expert on this and I am also no fan of multi-level marketing (MLM). But that is just my opinion. I have used some of the MLM brands and they are very good. I have also purchased other brands that do the job as well.

It is most important to look at the latin name of the oil you are purchasing and that it is 100% extract of said substance. I also like to choose organic products to avoid pesticides.

In addition, you do not have to purchase everything on the list. Visit a health food store and sample their EO products. It is said that some smells can bring back memories, good and not so good. Find the scent that brings you good energy. Happy smelling!

Simple EO Blends for Focus

Focus Blend 1
Focus Blend 2
20 drops Lemon
10 drops Litsea Cubeba
6 drops Basil
10 drops Cardamom
2 drops Rosemary
10 drops Lemon

Lets Get Focused!

A new year is indeed a great time to begin the practice of focus. We see now that we have several options. Time to put it all into action. Remember, do not complicate any of this or you will defeat the purpose! Enjoy and trust the process!

Our thoughts create our reality -- where we put our focus is the direction we tend to go.”

-Peter McWilliams

Photo by Dingzeyu Li
Photo by Dingzeyu Li | Source

Resources

  1. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-29/five-phone-apps-that-will-keep-you-off-your-phone
  2. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/power-down-better-sleep
  3. http://sbinfocanada.about.com/cs/timemanagement/a/timetypes.htm
  4. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101727048
  5. Worwood, Valerie Ann, 1996, The Fragrant Mind: Aromatherapy for Personality, Mind, Mood and Emotion, New World Library, Novato, California, 99 p.

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