Tips on How to Improve Concentration & Stay Focus at Work and Study
Are You Drifting?
Do you always find yourself unable to concentrate on your study or work because you were looking forward to that television program? You were unable to concentrate because you couldn't get your mind off the argument you just had with your boss?
Philip Hunsaker and Colette Frayne, in their book, 'Supervisory Management' said that if your mind wandered rather than focused on the issue at hand, then you may have a concentration problem.
They also said that concentration is crucial in order to complete what you were supposed to do. It had to be an active and continuous effort to exclude from your consciousness all thoughts and emotions not related to the task that you were doing. It is a skill that requires your motivation, self-discipline and common sense.
Why You Need to Stay Focused
In their book, the authors gave the following reasons why you need to improve your concentration and stay focused:
- To complete your task efficiently and effectively
- To have a better idea of what needs to be done.
- If you are able to concentrate, then you can learn better.
Unable to Concentrate
How well you concentrate will depend on how well your brain can 'filter' out the non-related messages. You are also unable to concentrate due to these internal and external factors:
- When you lack motivation, you will be easily distracted
- When you daydream and fantasizing on other issues
- When the surrounding environment is distracting you
- You have too much task at hand and trying to complete your work without proper planning. This will lead to frustration and confusion, and hence your ability to concentrate
- You are sleepy or hungry and this makes it difficult for you to concentrate, especially on abstract activities.
How to Improve Focus and Concentration
The first step to overcome these barriers to effective concentration and focus is to recognize that you have a problem. By accepting these problems, you will learn how to concentrate better. The following are steps given by the authors, to help improve your concentration and focus level:
1. Check Your Level of Motivation
Analyze your level of motivation. If the reason for not able to concentrate is due to a mismatch of personality and job, then you should stop. Forcing yourself to continue will not be productive
2. Organize Your Activity
Start your week with a plan. Schedule what needs to be done in order of priority and importance. Estimate time required to accomplish those tasks. Do you need any help from others or use of a particular equipment? Put it all in your list.
3. Put Aside Your Personal Problems
Are you having personal problems or fantasizing about a new love? You must not let this interfere with your work or task. If you can't control your thoughts, they will interfere with your ability to concentrate.
4. Check Your Degree of Involvement
If you are doing too many tasks at one time and not getting any one task to completion, then you should delegate some minor tasks to others.
If you continue to try to concentrate on everything, nothing may get done.
5. Manage Your Work Environment
Is the noise level in your work environment a distraction? Is the lighting too dim? Is the color scheme in your work area too garish? Is your chair too hard?
These are the excuses you may encounter that create a distraction and may lessen your concentration level and increase your stress level. If you can manage and reduce these distractions yourself, then attend to it. Otherwise talk to the admin staff or person in charge, to help with these problems.
6. Evaluate Your Task Requirement
If your task requires long hours of concentration like doing a financial report, find a quiet place to work. Take frequent breaks or alternate with other minor task. Playing soft music might help relax both body and mind, helping you to concentrate better.
7. Take care of Yourself
A clear mental state and a healthy physical being are necessary to help you concentrate better. Proper sleep, diet and exercise are also important.
Staying up all night to prepare for a meeting early the next morning will not be beneficial if it causes you to drift in and out of sleep during the session.
8. Manage Your Own Concentration
Most people can concentrate for up to one hour. After that they become vulnerable to distractions. The way to keep one's concentration level high is to take frequent breaks. Five minute break every half hour or so is best.
How to Improve Your Study Mindset
If you are a student, it is important to 'create' that study mind-set. In addition to the above suggestions, here are other ways that might help:
- Study in areas with little distraction such as in the library
- Bring only what you need for the study otherwise you will be distracted by other things such as messages on your hand-phones
- Study group with your friends - asking question, discussions and brainstorming on the subject will improve your memory
- Take a short break in between study will help refresh your mind
'I am getting so forgetful. Yesterday I put my shoes on the wrong feet - than I just could not remember whose feet I put them on'
Brain Exercise and more
In addition to what were suggested by the authors, I would also recommend that you do brain exercise, to keep the mind 'alert and active'. Meditation or relaxing and simple stretching exercise like gentle yoga will also help.
Finally drink a lot of water, especially mineral water.
Stay alert and be productive.