09 Mar 5 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Mental Focus
Staying on a task can be difficult especially when you are often distracted. In today’s always-connected workplace distractions are nothing more than a click away. Because when you are not distracted by your colleagues, you can always check out your Facebook account or read a tempting offer from an e-mail.
Fortunately, focus can be practiced. And the more you want to know how and you work on it, the more you can develop your focus. The ability to concentrate and direct mental effort are essential for learning new things, achieving goals and performing. Whether you are trying to finish an urgent report or competing in a marathon, your ability to focus can mean the difference between success and failure.
Improving your mental focus is achievable but that doesn’t mean it is quick and easy. If it was simple, we would all have the focus of an elite athlete. It will take some real effort on your part and you may have to make some changes in your daily habits.
Here are 5 tips to help you:
- Start by assessing your mental focus and see how strong it is at the present moment. Read the following statements and select the ones that seem to best describe you:
- I find myself often daydreaming when I need to be working on an important task.
- I find it difficult to tune out distractions
- I often lose track and forget what I was working on. Then I have to start over again.
- I tend to focus on difficult tasks in the first part of the day when I know I will be the most alert.
- I like to set goals and break the task into more manageable segments.
- If I defocused, I take a short break then come back to what I was working on.
If you identify more with the first three statements, then you probable need to work on your mental focus. If the last three seem more your style, then you probable already have fairly good concentration skills, but you could be even stronger with a little practice.
- Eliminate Distractions
We often underestimate the power of distractions from focusing on tasks. No matter what form they take, a background radio or a co-worker who drops in front of you to chat, distractions must be minimized.
One way to deal with this is to ask to be left alone for a period of time. Another alternative is to seek a calm location where you know you will be able to work undisturbed. The library or the meeting room are all good spots to try.
But not all distractions are external. Environmental noises and interruptions are often easier to control than the internal distractions that might make it difficult to focus your attention. Exhaustion, worry, anxiety, poor motivation and other internal disturbances can be particularly difficult to avoid. Try to rest well and do not let negative thoughts to distract you.
- Focus on One Thing at a Time
Multitasking sometimes seems like a great way to get a lot done quickly but it has rather a negative effect. Juggling multiple tasks at once cand dramatically cut down on productivity and makes it much harder to be attentive to details.
Think of your attention as a spotlight. If you shine that spotlight on one particular area, you can see things very clearly. If you try to spread the same amount of light across a large dark room, you might instead only glimpse that shadowy outlines.
- Try Taking a Short Break
Have you ever tried to focus on the same thing for a long period? After a while it becomes more and more difficult to devote your mental resources to the tasks. Not only the focus decrease, but also the performance. The psychologist’s explanation is linked to the brain’s tendency to ignore the constant sources of stimulation. Then what is the solution?
The researchers have found that when we take very brief breaks by shifting our attention elsewhere can dramatically improve mental focus. So the next time you are working on a prolonged task, be sure to give yourself an occasional mental break. Shift your attention to something unrelated to the task, even if it is only for a few moments.
- Keep Practicing to Strengthen Your Focus
The things won’t happen over night. Even professional athletes require plenty of time and practice in order to strengthen their concentration skills. Recognize the impact that being distracted is having on your work. If you are struggling to accomplish your goals and find what are the causes of your distractions, you will start placing a higher value on your time. By building your mental focus, you will find that you are able to accomplish more and concentrate on the things in life that truly bring you joy and satisfaction.