Last week, we wrote about 13 Ways to Better Manage Your Time. With better time management, you can find more balance in your life and achieve a healthier lifestyle.
While I have been working on better managing my time, I have realized that I sometimes lack concentration. I become scattered or forget what I’m doing, and I am not really accomplishing anything.
Part of being able to better manage your time and get more done is to also improve your ability to concentrate on the task at hand. It’s easy to get distracted by cell phones, emails and gaming apps. While Candy Crush may call out to you to play it, you can ignore it and finish that task!
Here are 10 tips to help you boost your focus and concentration:
Shut off the electronics
Today’s world of electronics and wireless devices are zapping our concentration. Stay off the social media sites while you’re working on a task. The same goes for email: avoid checking it while you’re in the middle of a project. The constant distraction of looking at incoming emails will slow down your progress.
Smartphones may be the biggest interruption of all. It’s almost impossible to ignore the calls, message notifications and alerts. Consider silencing your phone so you’re not tempted to answer.
Unitask instead of multitasking
If you think you’re multitasking, you probably aren’t. You lose time when you shift your attention from one task to another. The result is that doing more than one project at a time actually takes more time than doing them one right after the other. It’s better to unitask and put all your concentration into one task until it’s completed.
Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate because you’re bored with what you’re doing. Boring tasks can make it easy to be distracted. Organizing your desk looks attractive compared to getting the task done. For these tasks, give yourself a challenge. If you stay on top of it and get it done in a certain amount of time, you can take a break, have a snack or take a walk.
Focus on the now
Is your brain filled with all of the things you need to get done today, or even this week? The house is a mess, your sister is mad at you, and you need to make a trip to the grocery store. Worrying about other things or running an old conversation through your mind can ruin your concentration. Make a list of things you need to do so you can stop thinking about them. Tell yourself you will think about how to make amends with your sister later. Then, you can free your mind to tackle the job at hand.
Grab a snack
If you’re running low on fuel, your brain may be working against you. It’s important to eat breakfast and help jump-start your metabolism for the day. You can also have a snack if you feel your energy and focus starting to lag. Grab some nuts, cheese or yogurt to give you a boost.
Drink more water
Mild dehydration can lead to inattention. You may not even notice it or feel thirsty, but your cognitive abilities could be impaired. So, if you feel like your ability to focus is slipping, drink a glass of water to help you rehydrate.
Physical activity can help sharpen your focus. It can release chemicals in your brain that are thought to improve learning and memory. Exercise can also help you clear your mind and serve as a time to meditate or think through things that may be bothering you. You will be able to approach a task with renewed vigor and a clear mind.
Get more sleep
Sleep is so important to so many aspects of our lives. Fatigue can make it tougher to concentrate. Most adults need at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Make sleep a priority. You will find that you can get more done when you’re well rested. You may also find that you function better during certain times of the day.
For instance, my best time of day is from about 10am to 2pm. I am slow to get started in the morning, and then I drop off by mid-afternoon. I get a second wind in the evening and often do work after my kids go to bed. Take advantage of your more alert times to tackle your tougher projects.
Check your medication
Some medications can interfere with your concentration. Check your medications for any side effects that could be making it difficult to focus. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your medication to see if it could be causing problems. You may be able to modify your medicine to help improve your concentration.
Wiggle your toes
It may sound bizarre, but if you find yourself losing your focus or zoning out during a conversation, wiggle your toes. If we’re not stimulated after a short period of time, our attention can lag. By taking a moment to think about your toes, you can remind yourself to tune into the present. If you’ve been working on a task for a long time, it can help to get up and walk around the room or do a couple of stretches. You give your body and mind a quick break, and then you can jump right back into the project.
Unless you move to a deserted island, you will always be bombarded by distractions that will challenge your concentration. You can learn to tune out simple distractions and be more mindful of ways to stay focused on the task at hand. I finished writing this blog, so now I’m going to play a game of Candy Crush!