Are you easily distracted when working? Do you always respond to social media and emails without thought? Are you nagged by the feeling to surf the internet when working?
Then you exhibit signs of poor concentration.
Poor concentration affects everybody, from top executives to middle school students, so don’t feel like you’re lesser because of it.
But if your concentration skills are lacking, then eventually it’s going to catch up to you. You need to fix it asap so that this doesn’t happen.
And luckily for you, you can find how to fix it here.
You’re concentration is ruined by distractions
Being distracted is okay as long as it doesn’t:
1. Eat up excess time
2. Ruin your ability to refocus on work
So basically distractions are okay (within reason of course) if you can get back to work promptly afterwards.
You don’t use focus enhancing tips
Here’s how I guess you do things – you sit down to work and then just start doing “something.” Then you work till break time, never evaluating how well your work session went.
Along the way you’re constantly distracted by notifications from emails and social media, and usually you take the time to interact with each one.
If you want to break free from these very sub-par work habits, then simply read the next section.
5 concentration improving tactics
These methods will sharpen your concentration skills and let you focus on what really matters. Just pick your favorite one and give it a shot, and eventually you’ll be a pro at concentrating on your work.
1. Use timed “productivity sprints”
A “productivity sprint” is just a fancy way of saying you should work with a time-limit that you can maintain a solid focus during.
Some people can stay focused for only 10 minutes, while others can go for more than an hour. Regardless, all that matter is how long you can do it.
Next time you start working, time yourself and see how long you can go. Once your focus starts to weaken, stop the timer – that time is about as long as you can work optimally.
Start taking breaks when you reach that time limit, and make sure your break time is in good ratio to your work time. Shorter sprints require shorter breaks, while longer sprints require longer breaks.
Here’s some examples to help you out:
1. 10 minute sprints = 2 minute breaks
2. 30 minute sprints = 5 minute breaks
3. 60 minute sprints = 15 minute breaks
Stick around those ranges for maximum effect.
2. Create bite-sized tasks
The best way to get “in the zone (essentially having perfect focus),” is to make sure the difficulty of your work is about medium – not too hard, and not too easy.
To achieve this, break up your work into bite-sized tasks. The more difficult something is, the more bite-sized pieces there’ll be. This makes the task feel less overwhelming since each piece is simpler to approach.
In addition, you should take more breaks with difficult tasks. You’re using more brainpower on harder tasks, so your brain needs more rest time as well. You want to maintain that medium mental expenditure for optimal concentration, and this will help with that.
3. Track your distraction times
Every time you get distracted, keep a tally of when it occurs. But more importantly, mark how long you stay distracted.
Why? Getting distracted isn’t the main issue, it’s getting back on track that matters. So your goal with this method is to see if you can lower each distraction time and get it down to a non-significant amount (e.g. less than 5 seconds per distraction).
Integrate a reward system into this to enhance the experience as well. Maybe a piece of candy or some video game time for reducing – or at the very least, maintaining – your distraction times.
For those of you who respond well to seeing how much time you waste, this method might be worth trying.
4. Have a plan (no ambiguity allowed)
Every instant you spend thinking about what to do is a waste, and it should be handled at a designated “planning/organization” time instead.
So before any work session, make sure you have a “complete” task list prepared. By complete, I mean that you need to know what absolutely needs to be done by the end of that work session or day.
Ideally, you have only one thing that HAS to be done that day, while everything else is something you’d like to have done. This creates a low-pressure plan that you should be able to stick to.
5. Use the “just 5 more…” method
If you feel like you’re struggling to focus yet feel like you should be able to go on, just say to yourself “just 5 more…”
So for whatever you’re doing, you’ll do five more of it before quitting.
If you’re writing, then just write 5 more sentences. If you’re doing math problems, then just do 5 more problems. Or if you’re doing the dishes, just wash 5 more dishes.
Most likely you’ll be able to do more than just 5 and push on to complete your work session. If not, then you needed to take a break for sure.
6. Use the “in 5 minutes…” method
A similar method is to delay a reward by just 5 minutes, and use it as a “carrot on a stick” to keep you going.
All you do is say “in 5 minutes I can…,” and then tack on whatever reward you want. For example, “in 5 minutes I can surf the web.” Or “in 5 minutes I can have some chocolate.”
The ideal outcome is that your urge to stop working disappears before your 5 minutes are up, and you simply complete your work session. But if the urge is still there by the end of 5 minutes, then you certainly needed the break.
Over to you
Do you know any concentration building tips not mentioned here? What are they? Leave a comment below with your answer because I’d love to try them out