Prepping for your next meeting and multiple emails pop up in between? Wondering how you will get things done?
Or have an important exam coming up, and you are trying to fight social media distractions?
Well, you are not alone. The majority of people find it difficult to concentrate at some point in time.
We live in a noisy world with lots of distractions that may make it difficult to focus. Distractions make your mind wander and exhausts it, making it difficult to concentrate.
But the good news is that there are various ways of improving focus INSTANTLY.
What is Focus and Benefits of Improving It?
Before moving ahead, let’s understand a tad bit about focus and why you should improve it.
Focus is defined as the tool to concentrate on a given task or activity. It allows you to initiate the task and also to maintain attention until the task is complete.
Being focused means having clear objectives and goals. It allows you to shun all distractions and have undivided attention to the current task.
While there are many benefits of being focused, some important ones are:
- Improves productivity and work quality
- Reduces stress
- Helps you to understand yourself better
- Improves problem-solving skills
- Makes you more positive
- Allows you to take control of the things on your hand
Mental Hacks to Instantly Improve Focus
Here are some simple yet effective hacks to improve your focus.
1. Have Breakfast
Never work before breakfast. If you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first - Josh Billings.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Besides, the right food in the morning can also boost your focus.
Research has shown that people who have breakfast have better attention, especially during the morning hours.
According to a study, students who had morning breakfast performed better in memory and attention tests than those who just had an energy drink or skipped breakfast.
In addition to improving focus, breakfast also improves your mental and physical health and reduces fatigue.
Some options for a healthy breakfast are:
So, to improve your health and focus have a healthy breakfast, including the above mentioned food items.
2. Avoid All Distractions
All of us are faced with multiple distractions throughout the day. While not all distractions are avoidable, the majority of them can be avoided.
According to a study, simply using your phone can decrease your cognitive performance by 20%.
So, if you need to focus on something, you should clear potential distractions in the immediate environment.
One simple way to avoid this is to set aside a specific place and time where no one would disturb you. You can also choose to work in places where you will be undisturbed, such as a library or a quiet coffee shop.
Sometimes distractions can be internal, such as worry, anxiety, and poor motivation.
To minimize internal distractions, try positive thoughts when worried or anxious. Further, if you find that your mind is wandering, you can consciously bring it back to the current task.
To avoid external distractions, prefer a quiet place where no one would disturb you. Internal distractions need inner peace through positive thoughts to improve focus.
3. Select an Anchor Task
An anchor task is something that is the most important task for a day.
To improve focus, plan one task that is of the utmost importance and non-negotiable for that day. This anchor task will be the mainstay, which will hold your day in one place.
Selecting one priority task will guide your behavior to organize everything around that responsibility.
If you are surrounded by multiple tasks, select the most important one, and align all your tasks to complete it.
4. Take Breaks
Have you experienced that you are trying to focus on one thing for a long, and after a point, it becomes difficult to concentrate on it?
Psychology explains the reason behind this as the depletion of attentional resources. Some researchers also believe it is due to the mind’s tendency to overlook things with constant stimulation.
It is seen that taking breaks or diverting your attention significantly improves your mental focus.
Just shift your attention to things that are not related to the current task for a few moments. This will help you to sharpen your mental focus, improving your performance.
So, the next time you plan to work on a very long task, make sure to give yourself multiple mental breaks.
5. Listen to Music
Starve your distractions and feed your focus through music.
It is one of the most enjoyable ways to improve focus.
Experts suggest that listening to music:
- Triggers the release of dopamine – a chemical messenger in the brain responsible for improving your mood.
- Enhances productivity.
- Allows you to be in the present.
- Sparks your creativity.
- Improves your efficiency in carrying out repetitive tasks.
However, your focus also depends on the genre of music. Classical music or music without lyrics is seen to boost your concentration.
Besides, it is also a great idea to avoid music that you love or hate as it might distract you.
Next time you find it difficult to focus, listen to music, and see the difference yourself.
6. Sleep Well
Sleep is the best meditation - Dalai Lama.
Sleep can improve physical and mental health in various ways. Adequate sleep allows you to remember information, think clearly, and make well-informed decisions.
Besides, if you sleep properly, you might not need multiple cups of tea or coffee to stay alert throughout the day.
Lack of sleep makes you dull and negatively alters your attention.
So, to improve innovative thinking and creativity, adequate sleep is essential.
7. Get a Cup of Tea or Coffee
Taking coffee is a toothsome way to improve your focus instantly.
Coffee is rich in antioxidants and nutrients. It is also a great source of caffeine that boosts your attention.
Various studies have proved its efficacy as alertness and attention booster. It also boosts your other brain functions, such as memory, mood, reaction time, and vigilance.
However, you should avoid taking coffee before going to bed or if you are feeling jittery.
Overall, have coffee to enhance your focus and energy, but avoid taking too much as it will alter your attention.
Just like coffee, tea is also an instant attention booster.
The majority of the teas contain caffeine that boosts attention. Some teas also include the amino acid L-theanine, which has anti-anxiety effects.
Besides, L-theanine also improves dopamine and alpha brain waves that promote relaxation and improve mood.
The energy-boosting effects, along with the calming properties of tea, offer a non-jittery way to improve your focus.
According to a study, tea drinkers were seen to have better attention and outperformed those on a placebo drink.
All in all, have tea for non-jittery, stable, and calm focus. Black and green teas are generally better options to improve concentration.
8. Try a Nootropic
Nootropics are supplements that boost your mental health.
They have nutrients and ingredients that are cognitive enhancers. These ingredients release chemical messengers in the brain responsible for improving its functioning. They also prevent damage to the brain cells and manage age-related changes.
So, for an immediate boost, you can try nootropics.
However, it is good to consult your doctor before taking one, especially if you have any health disorders or are on any medications.
9. Take a Walk in Nature
Ever tried a walk in the park and found it refreshing?
Studies have shown that a walk in a quiet park boosts your attention span.
However, walking on a busy and noisy street cannot enhance your attention. This is because you cannot “switch-off” your brain as it needs to pay attention so that you don’t get hit by a coming vehicle.
Take a walk in a park or in any silent place to restore your concentration.
10. Stretch Yourself
The majority of us connect exercise with physical health. But what many may not know is that exercise is also good for your mental health.
Exercise is seen to improve your learning, enhance attention, and boost your memory. It also releases hormones that improve your mood and reduce anxiety and stress.
Studies have also shown that individuals who work out have denser brain areas associated with thinking and memory.
Stretch yourself for better physical and mental health.
11. Try Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is getting increasingly popular and for good reasons.
It is seen that practicing mindfulness for eight weeks can improve focus and concentration. Mindfulness also helps you stay on a task longer and switch between tasks less frequently, allowing you to perform more efficiently.
Mindfulness involves taking deep breaths and focusing on them. When you feel that your mind is starting to wander, uncritically and gently direct your focus on breathing.
You may initially find it challenging to disengage from wandering thoughts, but it becomes easier to focus with practice.
Yes, you read it right. Yawning is an excellent way to improve your alertness.
According to a book, “yawning is one of the best-kept secrets in neuroscience.”
Yawning enhances your brain metabolism and activity. It also relaxes your body and lowers stress.
So, yawn whenever you are anxious, stressed, or facing a challenging problem, especially when you need a focus boost.
13. Take Naps
Here is good news for all nap lovers!
Taking a short nap is an excellent way to refine your attention and become more energetic, fresher, and more productive.
Studies have shown that a nap of around 30 minutes enhances your performance by 34%.
It is also seen that a nap can improve performance level, sleepiness, and reduce stress. It can also enhance post-lunch cognitive functioning.
Quick tips for naps:
- Try and nap between 10-30 minutes to get the most out of your naps.
- The ideal time for a nap is between 1-4 pm.
Find it difficult to focus during the afternoon hours? Take a nap of around 10-30 minutes and be more focused and productive.
14. Avoid Constant Checking of Mails
This may be a difficult task for many, but it is a great way to boost your focus.
Constantly checking emails is the swiftest way to hamper your productivity. If you allow your mind to focus on emails instead of the most important thing, it will significantly impede your productivity.
You can try this: Avoid checking emails till lunchtime. This will allow you to focus your morning productivity on important things.
15. Set Daily Goals
Setting daily goals will help you plan your day and allocate time to your tasks accordingly.
Organize your day with a detailed to-do list. Jotting down a to-do list is the easiest way to increase your productivity and keep you focused.
While making a to-do list, set reasonable targets.
Get a pen and paper or an app and write your daily goals to boost your focus.
16. Train Your Brain
Want optimal functioning of your brain?
If yes, you need to train your brain to work deeper. This means that your brain performs at its peak for an extended period. It may sound easy, but you would rarely do it.
To train your brain to do so, you can allocate a few hours where you can do the work without disturbance. This will allow your brain to engage and make a significant breakthrough in important tasks optimally.
Train your brain to work at its optimal capacity by spending some time on a task without disturbance.
17. Give 90-minutes Cycle a Try
Here is another simple yet effective hack.
According to research, our body works in cycles of 90 minutes. Your body has a better ability to focus and engage during these cycles.
The 90-minute cycle is followed by reduced brain activity for the next 20 minutes. During this phase, you are more inclined to feel the “brain fog” and find it difficult to concentrate.
So, you can use this natural 90-minute cycle and take breaks in between.
18. Use Your Timer
You can also use the Pomodoro Technique to allow your brain to hyper-focus on a particular activity.
Pomodoro Technique involves using a timer to improve your focus. To follow it, set a timer for 25 minutes when you will entirely focus on the task on hand.
This should be followed by a break of five minutes. Now, reset the timer for 25 minutes and go again.
After completion of 4 such cycles, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
Use the Pomodoro Technique, which means using a timer to boost attention, for four cycles of 25 minutes with a break of five minutes in between.
19. Declutter Your Working Space
Clutter can drain your focus, attention, and concentration. It burdens your brain and prevents it from thinking clearly.
A study used various diagnostic tests to understand the brain’s reaction to disorganized and organized stimuli. It showed that clutter reduces your brain’s ability to focus.
It is like every piece of clutter fights for the brain’s attention.
So, it is important to get rid of unnecessary clutter in your working space. As every piece of clutter sucks your attention, the more you clear it, the better focus you can achieve.
20. Follow the Two-Minute Rule
If you feel any task will take less than 2 minutes, complete it right away.
Adding such smaller tasks will only keep on building your to-do list.
Just take 2 minutes off work and finish these tasks. You may be surprised by how much you can accomplish in such a short span.
So, reply to that email or quickly clean up your desk without allowing them to build up for later.
21. Try and Switch Tasks
Try to switch between high-focus and low-focus tasks.
This will allow your brain to rest after a task using excess mental energy.
So, after you have spent a few hours on the most important task in the morning, recharge your brain by taking a low-focus task.
Carry out tasks like cleaning your desk before you take another important task on hand.
22. Manage Energy and Not Time
If a task is difficult or needs your complete attention, it is a great idea to schedule it for a time when your energy is at its peak.
For instance, if you feel that your creative energy is highest in the evening, that is when you should do your important tasks.
So, while planning for the next day, assign important tasks when you have the highest energy. If you do not have the energy to work on the task, other planning strategies are useless.
23. Reward Yourself
Rewards motivate you to perform better.
Set up things in your mind to reward yourself if you finish a task with a stipulated time.
Rewards can be smaller things you like, such as having your favorite meal, watching a movie you have been waiting for a long time, or eating at your favorite restaurant.
All in all, rewards help you improve your attention to the task on hand.
24. Avoid Multitasking
Multitasking involves switching tasks and is more of serial tasking than multitasking.
Juggling your mind between multiple tasks results in cutting down productivity and making it difficult to concentrate on important details.
So, this means that it will take more time to finish two tasks simultaneously than it will take to complete them one after another.
Researchers believe that multitasking can lower productivity by 40%.
Besides, for optimal attention, stop scattering on more things at once. Improving focus involves making the most of the available resources.
Stop multitasking and focus on one thing at a time.
25. Be Patient
Wondering how being patient improves focus?
Well, every task will have its own difficulties. This is especially true if you are planning to overcome bad processes and habits.
However, it is essential to understand that the process is as important as the result. So, be patient and prepare yourself for a certain amount of ups and downs.
The more you train your mind to be focused, the sharper your focus will be.
26. Eat Healthy Foods
While this may sound obvious, it is very effective.
You may be surprised to know that many food ingredients reach your brain through the bloodstream. The foods that reach your brain either cause you to lose or maintain your focus.
To avoid energy drainage, maintain your sugar levels by consuming good fats, protein, and complex carbs.
Some healthy food options include:
- Dark chocolate
- Green leafy vegetables
- Fatty fish
- Green tea
27. Don’t Be a Perfectionist
Are you a perfectionist? Do you spend a lot of time perfecting your work?
While this may sound good, it is not so good when it comes to focusing. Being perfect makes you less efficient and leads to procrastination.
Spending too much time and energy on one task drains you and reduces focus.
So, take conscious efforts to avoid being perfect and boost your focus.
Try the mentioned hacks and see the difference in yourself!