- Quality of Life & Wellness
How to Improve Concentration, Increase Brain Power and Memory
Devoting full attention to what you are doing, is the key to improving your brain power, intelligence and memory and to success with your goals. If you can't focus on one thing or one set of things, properly how can you hope to get good outcomes and achieve your goals? Successful people have learnt how to focus their mind on their goals with blazing intensity, even while multitasking, by focusing on one task at a time, avoiding distractions until they finish them in the appropriate order.
There are always a myriad of competing things going on at the same time and the endless clutter can be distracting. To really focus and concentrate you need to find ways of dealing this and free your mind and attention so you can apply the 'blinkers' and achieve you tasks and objectives in a timely way. This article looks at the ways to improve your ability to really focus and concentrate on tasks and to avoid the distractions and shallow thinking.
Tips for Improving Concentration, Focus and Attention
Be Conscious and Deliberate about Concentrating
You will only be successful at improving your concentrating after have to make a conscious and deliberate decision to truly focus your attention on something. Sounds very simple, but nothing will improve unless you make the changes required both in terms of removing distractions, applying the blinkers and learning how to be more focused and concentrate. Often lack of focus is cause by unconscious decisions to put off doing it, because it is too hard. Also people like to be distracted for the same reason. Part of the solution lies is being better organised so that you focus only on one thing at a time and have a logical schedule for doing things. Remove the clutter, clear your head and just do it.
Set Clear Goals, Milestones and Time Lines
To focus and concentrate effectively with real effort you need to define what you want to achieve and to break it down into milestones, a linked sequence of steps and tasks. If you are vague about what you are trying to do how can you concentrate on all the jumble of things that may be racing through your mind at once. At the outset develop a plan, a logical set of tasks, write them down and do them one by one. The writing down is important because the tasks can be removed from your mind, because they are in a safe place. Part of the process is to clear your mind of all the jumble of tasks that are churning through your brain. Writing them down i a list clears the decks so you can focus on them one at a time. It is essential to have specific outcomes in mind and some idea on how long it will take. If you set a timeline, there is a better chance that all those other things you have to do will not suddenly re-surface creating distractions.
Be Consistent and Stick to Your Routines
Being consistent in your work environment and schedules helps avoid distractions. Changing things is a fabulous way a becoming distracted and putting things off. Sticking to your time routine also maintains a work pattern, schedule and rhythm to what you do which will aid concentration. It helps to have a place and time for being focused and an established routine.
Avoid, Shun and Shed Distractions
This sounds simple but it takes time, effort to set up and practice. Interference and distractions are the enemies of focus and concentration. If you are honest you will probably admit that you like distractions because it avoids the effort and pain (?) of concentration. It is so easy to be distracted. It is a bit like the appeal of chocolate and resisting the temptation. The best way to avoid the temptations to have no chocolate in the house or office. The best way of avoiding distractions is to remove the sources. Switch off the e-mail, the message service, the browser, the phone, the smartphone and close the door so people won't distract you. Distractions can be temptations that need to be turned off.
Set Schedules, Allow for Breaks and Give Yourself Mini-Rewards
Just like your body needs rest or sleep to perform at its best, your mind needs to be bested and refreshed periodically to remain at its best. Your mind needs periodic short breaks during focused periods of concentration as well as longer breaks between major achievements. These breaks can be rewards for completing the job or sub-tasks. Don't be tempted to turn to other tasks and your distractions and this will switch you off from the focus on the task at hand. Take genuine and refreshing breaks and let the mind rest. Consider a short walk or other form of exercise than can give your brain a flush. A tea of coffee break is obviously useful but avoid being lured into distractions.
Look after your Mind and Body
Don't let your task interfere with your sleep and rest. Having sufficient is essential for concentrating. Similarly, a balanced diet and regular aerobic exercise are also very important. Being in good physical shape, well rested, well fed provides the foundation for an ability to remain focused and concentrate on what you are doing.
Practice to Improve your Ability to Focus and Concentrate
Oddly it does improve with practice, but you have to focus and concentrate to learn how to do it.
- Never say or believe you cannot concentrate on something. Practice positive thoughts and tell yourself you can concentrate. Remind yourself that you can do this. Give yourself mini rewards for doing so.
- It takes training, work on concentrating ad total focus for 15 minutes, then 30 and then 60 minutes. By perseverance and practice, you will learn to increase the time you an remain focused.
- Make deals with yourself. Tell yourself that all the distractions and potential problems interfering with our ability to concentrate can wait until after you finish what you are doing. It is a good idea to write your ideas down on a piece of paper, or an electronic list of what problems you have to think about or solve. This will help clear your mind.
- Do one thing at a time. Switching from one task to another, and then another will only teach you not devote your full attention and lose focus very quickly. Multi-tasking is fine, but the tasks need to be done singularly in a proper sequence. Trying to do everything at once can be very tiring.
- Be alert to distractions, stay patient, and bring your mind back the subject again and again.
Write Down your Ideas to Clear your Head
When you take time to physically write down your thoughts and ideas it makes you focus your full attention on that idea for just a moment. You have already started to develop a list where you can store things freeing space in your mind to focus on one task at a time. A simple pen and paper is the start of better focus and concentration.
Finding it hard to concentrate? Are you guilty of putting off some harder task or project because you know it will be tough and you want to postpone it? If you find yourself wanting to put something off, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want it done now so it's not on my mind and bugging me?
- Do I have to do this?
- Will it be any easier later?
- What are the benefits of doing it now and the consequences of postponing it.
This will stop the rot and give you the incentive to face the task and remove excuses.
© 2012 Dr. John Anderson