To perform better at work, learn new skills, be more productive, make decisions, study smarter, and make progress in basically anything that involves your brain, it’s advisable to work on how to focus better.
Your attention is your biggest asset, so it’s important to keep it where it’s supposed to be — on the task at hand that is getting you one step closer to achieving your goals and dreams.
So much is going on around us at any moment though — it can become a struggle to stay concentrated on the one activity, task, or even person, in front of us.
Knowing how to focus is crucial; especially today, as we live in the era of distraction.
Obstacles, however, will still come in the form of temptations, distractions (such as social media, messages, and television), and the hundreds of thoughts in our mind at any given minute. If we could eliminate all of these, it would be just us, and our-laser focused mind.
However, it doesn’t seem to work like that.
Generally speaking, it gets harder and harder to concentrate on what really matters as we constantly get overwhelmed due to loads of information rocketing our way. This information overload also makes us anxious; and then, we find all types of excuses to procrastinate.
So, to take back control of our focus and improve our concentration, let’s train our brain to stay focused every time we’re about to get to work.
4 Proven Techniques To Focus Better
1. Identify any distraction in your surroundings; then, remove it
This isn’t necessarily an easy task, but you can learn to do it quickly and effortlessly — if, you’re determined to improve concentration and your performance.
The point is to not just learn how to focus, but also how to stay focused. And for that to happen, all distractions need to be eliminated.
Let’s begin by identifying distractions.
Look around you now. Or imagine yourself about to get to work. You are putting effort into concentrating. What pops up in your mind?
Does someone enter the room as soon as you start working?
Do you go to your phone or open your email right before doing your tasks for the day?
Each of these distractions is a productivity killer, and it’s your job to do something about it.
Work on one issue at a time, though. Here are some suggestions:
Tell other people not to bother you when you’re working.
Then, set (time) limits to using your phone and checking email. These distractions take your mind off your current task and you may end up doing many other little things that waste your time. And once you do finish them and force yourself back to work, you generally have an even more difficult time doing so.
In order to make room for focus, you must first remove distractions.
And don’t worry if you offend anyone. People usually form the habit of calling or texting you even when it’s not urgent. So set some rules and ask them to take it seriously. Over time, they will— ’cause it’s respectful.
2. Train your willpower muscle
Your willpower works like a muscle and so does your mind.
A muscle needs practice/exercise to be stronger. What you need to do in order to learn how to focus and do it effortlessly, is to train yourself to become more disciplined.
In order to improve your willpower, you will need exactly what a muscle needs to grow— resistance.
If you overcome resistance daily by challenging yourself in small ways, you’ll see a gradual change in the right direction.
This might mean waking up earlier, with the first alarm (and we all know how challenging that can be). Or saying ‘no’ to junk food or making ourselves clean the house when it’s not our turn. Or reminding yourself to stand up straight to improve your posture. Or choosing to never judge your loved ones again (even if what they share with you about their lives isn’t something you approve). Or breaking a bad habit from the past, or doing a few push-ups and crunches every few hours during the day.
All of these are small and easy things, however, their overall effect is quite amazing.
Improving your willpower can help you learn how to focus better because you have more control over your mind— you will soon begin doing anything you should just by telling yourself to do it.
3. Give meditation a try
Meditation can greatly be used to improve concentration. Unfortunately, most people never experience its real benefits.
Give it a try tomorrow morning, or even this evening before bed. It’s important to clear all distractions, find a quiet place, and leave behind any other thoughts (or all thoughts, really).
Meditation is about mindfulness. This is supposed to be how we live all the time. However, we usually keep ourselves busy with unimportant things and struggle with choosing what to focus on. . . This brings chaos to the mind.
By meditating, however, you become one with the present moment.
It’s hard in the beginning, so you should try breathing deeply to relax every muscle and let go of any tension.
For newbies, in order to prevent random thoughts from popping, stay focused on your breathing. Just think about it, notice how your body reacts to it, and forget about anything else. This is what laser-focus looks like. . . You’ll experience it soon.
If you are looking for a bit more help to stay focused during meditation, check out the video by Vishen below:
Meditation is proven to not just change mental patterns, but also to evoke clarity and better cognitive performance.
If you make meditation a daily practice, you’ll notice you’re constantly alert and can thus stay focused throughout the day.
4. Do one thing at a time
Whatever you are doing, please know that multitasking is not the answer. In fact, it has the opposite effect on the mind.
Doing many things at once simply makes it impossible to do any of them right. What’s more, you quickly feel exhausted and your time and energy are gone without even realizing it.
True focus happens when you’re only doing only one thing at a time and investing all your attention in it. It is actually another form of meditation— it’s what can get you in ‘the zone’ when you work.
This focused, meditative state or flow is the same state artists experience when they are working on their craft for hours and forget about the outer world.
Doing more than one thing at a time is the biggest distraction of them all— and you’re the one choosing to do it.
So, say “no” more often to clear up your time. And when you’re working on a task, be sure to do so with improved concentration and try to stick with it until you finish the job.
Focus is an important skill to master these days. Don’t underestimate its power.
What will you be doing with your new and improved concentration?
And what additional tips do you have to eliminate distractions?
Share in the comments below!