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How To Improve Concentration: 5 Most Efficient Advices
At no point in human history have we ever lived in an age with more distractions and more stimuli, most of it manmade, coming at us from every direction. From smartphones to social media to the 24-hour news cycle— many people feel pulled in a million directions at once, and it can feel harder than ever before to just sit down and concentrate on one thing. As a result, stress increases and productivity goes down. Fortunately, there is a way out of this mess. Let’s explore some effective ways you can reduce information overload and improve your ability to concentrate.
1. Break bigger tasks up into smaller ones.
Sometimes the reason you can’t focus is really just a form of procrastination. You feel overwhelmed, consciously or unconsciously, like the job is just too big and you can’t handle it. A good way to get around this mental barrier is to simply break larger tasks and projects into smaller pieces. If you find it hard to focus on something big and challenging, perhaps you will have an easier time taking on smaller things one at a time and checking them off the list.
2. Stop multitasking.
This is a hard one because our culture and even many bosses in the workplace encourage multitasking. The fact is you simply cannot do multiple things at once very well. Activities that don’t require a high degree of conscious thought, like talking, walking, and breathing at once, yes, you can do all of those at once. But with anything that really requires cognitive ability, you cannot truly multitask. You brain just switches back and forth between different tasks. You must prioritize and eliminate tasks where possible to reduce mental clutter and make it easier for your brain to perform without stress.
3. Speaking of clutter, clean up your workspace!
If the area you work in is messy and disorganized, it will take a psychological toll on your ability to concentrate. Take an honest inventory of what you need and don’t need, and get rid of as much stuff as you can. You’ll probably be amazed by how much you can throw out without degrading the quality of your life. If anything, it will probably improve it.
4. Get adequate sleep and nutrition.
Food is fuel for your brain as well as your body, and there is a direct correlation between the quality of food you eat and your mental performance. Eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Foods with healthy omega-3 fats like fish, avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil also help your brain perform better. Likewise, it is important to get plenty of sleep if you want to be able to concentrate. There are a multitude of studies proving the relationship between cognitive function and sleep. Try to get at least 6 hours a night, preferably more.
5. Try changing your auditory inputs.
Sounds in your environment can help or hinder your concentration. If there’s a lot of loud, shrill or annoying sounds in your vicinity, try moving to a different area if you can to do your work. However, sounds can also improve your ability to concentrate. Try listening to relaxing music that will calm your mind down and help you focus on the task at hand. Another option is white noise or binaural beats videos on YouTube. Binaural beats involve the playing of sounds at two different frequencies in each ear. When you brain hears both frequencies at once, it actually alters your brainwave activity in a subtle way and allows you to focus more easily. Binaural beats work best when heard through earphones.
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Try these methods out for yourself and see if your concentration and productivity improves. Sometimes just a small change in behavior or lifestyle is all it takes to dramatically increase the quality of your day.