Having a good focus and a longer attention span becomes increasingly difficult in today’s day and age when we are overwhelmed with information and stimuli. We need to shift our attention more, as we are generally busy and need to pay attention to a lot of things. But a good focus and an ability to sustain attention on one thing is still of great value, and if you learn how to do that, it can only improve your life and career.
1. Don’t Try to Multi-task
Multitasking is not only harmful for your productivity, but can also affect your ability to focus long term as it affects your brain in a negative way. You may feel compelled to multi-task because you are anxious or feel bored and frustrated by focusing on one task only, but try to avoid it as much as possible and overtime your focus will improve a lot. Research has shown that people who focus on one thing at a time are more productive than people who try to accomplish a few things at once.
2. Set up Your Environment
A bad environment can have a huge impact on your focus and sometimes you may not even realize it. When you try to focus pick an environment that is quiet, comfortable, smells nice and has fresh air. You will be surprised how much a pleasant environment can help with your focus.
3. Have Patience
Good focus actually takes a while to develop when you start a task. It’s normal to struggle with your concentration in the beginning of your task. But after 15- 20 minutes your focus should be significantly higher. So have patience and give it some time.
4. Take Breaks
Taking short breaks can help you give your mind a rest for a while so you can return to the task more mentally refreshed. However, when you taking a break it’s important not to engage in mind consuming and tiring activities. Just do something that relaxes your mind, like listening to quiet music, meditating, taking a warm bath etc.
5. Don’t Go Overboard with Caffeine
Yes, caffeine does improve your focus for a while, until it wears off. If you are taking higher amounts, and drinking stronger and more coffees the caffeine crash can totally destroy your focus and leave you feeling tired. It’s good to take a cup a day or two (200 mg of caffeine a day) but not anything more than that.
Physical exercise has numerous benefits for your brain and for your concentration as well. Research has shown that exercise increases the blood flow in your brain and releases endorphins that help your mental functions and even help you sustain focus for a few hours.
7. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a state where you focus on the present moment while accepting your thoughts and emotions without identifying with them. Practicing this can improve your ability to focus long term and also help you with anxiety and stress.
8. Set up a Deadline for Yourself
Setting up a time when your task should be completed can help you avoid giving into distractions as you are trying to stay within the time limit and minimize the time spent on distractions. Set up a realistic deadline and try to meet it.
9. If You Get Distracted, Get Back to the Task
Oftentimes when we get distracted, we end up leaving the ongoing task and not returning to it for a substantial amount of time. If you find yourself getting distracted by a phone call for example, return to the task when you finish the phone call.