5 tips for Better Concentration
Updated: Jul 30, 2020
There are more temptations than ever to get lost in distraction. TikTok, Instagram and DailyMail are constantly demanding that I catch up on every little piece of new content. My friends want to go for a walk. I could use another iced coffee...
Even the shortest to-do list can take forever if you’re allowing distractions to get in the way. Check out these 5 tips that you can add to your daily routine to check through that to-do list with ease.
ANTICIPATE YOUR DISTRACTIONS
As much as we try to deny their existence, we know our vices. For example, I pause my work day to snack way too often and I refuse to look at the “hours spent” tab on Instagram because I don’t want to have a premature heart attack.
We have mindless habits. I mindlessly reach for my phone (or a snack) when I want to stop using my brain for a minute or two. If you can get ahead of these distractions, you’ll be better off as the day goes on and your mind looks for something else to delve into. I got rid of the snacks in my cabinets, and usually keep my phone a safe distance away if I have a hard deadline to hit. Anticipate what your mind is going to do when it hits peak boredom.
STICK TO THE LIST
We start our days with a to-do list, but by the end of the day there are new emails, changed plans, swapped priorities and basically a brand-new list. It’s annoying, right? While it’s tempting to want to answer that email that just came in, or try to juggle two projects at once, it’s been proven that multi-tasking is not an efficient way of working because you’re only applying half your efforts into each project. Therefore, you’re more prone to making mistakes, rushing, etc.
“My mantra is ‘one thing at a time.’ Our brains literally cannot concentrate on multiple tasks at a time. Although many of us (cough, women) would like to think we are great multitaskers we simply must do one thing at a time to give anything our full attention. Picking one thing to focus on at a time allows us to be present, actually make progress toward our goal, and, bonus, helps us practice mindfulness at the same time.” - Colleen, Prezence CEO
If something new pops up during a project, put it at the top of your to-do list for when you’re done with your current task (so you don’t forget about it) and continue to work 100% on the task at hand. You’ll discover that your work is more thorough and you’re able to think things through with more clarity.
Studies show that there’s a direct correlation between meditation and focus. By incorporating mindfulness practices into your day, over time you’ll notice that you get better at focusing without getting distracted quite so easily. Meditation doesn’t have to be a long, dedicated process—it can be as simple as a few minutes of reflection or breathwork just before bed. Try one out today on the Prezence app, there are so many long term benefits, concentration aside.
Concentration doesn’t mean not moving from your desk all day like a robot. If anything, you’ll be way more likely to be distracted if you don’t give your mind a break. There are so many benefits to walking away from your work, clearing your mind and strategizing about what you need to do next. Get some fresh air or listen to your favorite song, really loud. By purposefully shifting your focus to something else, even if just for a few minutes, you can positively impact your work productivity when you return to it. Our brains get exhausted by constant stimulation, so we need to take breaks, recognize those breaks (rather than mindless phone-grabbing) and appreciate the few minutes of calm.
“A helpful way to ensure you’re making space for intentional breaks throughout your day is by scheduling time into your calendar or setting a recurring alarm in your phone as reminders. Since COVID has started, many people are struggling to establish boundaries between our personal and professional lives. It’s easy to get absorbed into work without coming up for air from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. If there is a class I want to take I’ll schedule it into my calendar. This also helps hold me accountable. If you know that your energy takes a downturn around 3 PM, set an alarm to go for a quick stroll around the block. Disciplined practices and rituals support long term success, however that is defined for you!” - Catie, Chief Mindfulness Officer
For maximum productivity, we need to look after our bodies. Without proper care, a healthy diet and adequate sleep every night, we can kiss concentration goodbye. Fatigue and anxiety can flood in and serve as a major distraction if our bodies aren’t properly looked after. That means ditching fatty, processed foods, not over-doing the caffeine, getting 30 minutes of exercise each day, and finding a healthy sleeping routine. A healthy body directly correlates to a healthy, energized mind. Make sure to look after your body and your mind will see positive results.
“I’m learning to be very purposeful about when I access my devices. My television is programmed to ‘sleep’ when I do, so that my nervous system can more readily calm and process the day’s activities—sleep is the only time our body and mind ‘fully’ restore. I also love being ‘in the moment,’ and rarely use my phone—not even to take photos—when I’m IRL with people. The memories ‘hit different,’ when I’ve fully absorbed the sights, sounds and smells around me.” -Sia B. Prezence Corporate Mindfulness Engagement Partner
Concentration takes practice, so be patient and try not to get discouraged. Try things out and see if they work for you—this is a lifelong skill that takes years and tons of self-awareness to perfect, but the results can be life-changing. Concentration can benefit you across all pieces of life, friendships, relationships and hobbies included, so keep working at it!