Whether you are a student, a worker or teacher concentrating on any given tasks for any length of time can be a real challenge at times. The fact that we have to juggle a lot things all at once (often the result of multitasking) can make concentrating difficult since we would be preoccupied with other thoughts while we at a particular thing – the result is massive inefficiency. Or if that is not the case with you, it could also be that you are having issues with wandering thoughts whenever you are doing anything demanding full attention. You could be reading a book while your mind has gone round the globe in 60 minutes. It can be infuriating having issues with concentration. You need to know you aren’t the only one with this challenge. A number of us have had to wage battles with the monster called distraction and won. So it might be helpful to share some of those tips with you to help you overcome yours
#1 See Your Work As A Choice Not A Chore
If you approach your work as an obligation, as something you “must do”, that would stir disinterest in the subject at hand. People don’t really feel like doing something unless they “really want to”. Instead approach learning as a choice by telling yourself “this is something I really want to learn about”. The benefit of thinking this way is that it will inspire interest in what you want to learn and give you a sense of control about what you are doing.
#2 Ask Yourself Questions
He who has a “why” to live can bear almost any how. – Friedrich Nietzsche
The reason why we find our thoughts drifting around life-crucial tasks is because we have zero motivation for doing them. This often springs from a lack of motive on our part for doing the task in question. We begin with unclear objectives and underachieve at the end of the day. You won’t do much if you approach reading with a box-checking mentality without real interest. Before you ever start doing anything, provide motivation for concentrating on the task by asking yourself the question “Why am I doing this?” If you can’t find good enough reasons for “really” doing what you intend doing, then its high time you went about finding one. That is the only way you can be focused on the task at hand.
#3 Boost Your Concentration Through Visualization
Building focus through visualization otherwise known as building a mental model necessitates that you harness the power of creative imagination by visualizing in detail the end-result of your assignment. You do this by imagining in detail what you expect to achieve, learn, read and do at the end of the day. This will help you train your brain to anticipate your next steps while also mapping out the entire learning process. You begin by writing a detailed list of your objectives with a step-by-step plan. I was working on a blog article on work place bullying and harassment. I started out by first highlighting the scope of the article in a step-by-step process by listing out things like, Introduction, definition, forms, remedies and conclusion. I then went about writing bits on each subtopic. This helped me visualize the task and involve my mind every step of the way. If you are reading, you start out by setting out your objectives on paper and then visualize covering a certain amount of materials – chapters, subtopics, paragraphs and sections.
#4 Know When Your Brain Is Most Active Or Receptive
Success isn’t all about hard work it’s a medley of smart and work – smart work. Perhaps I should serve you the Shakespearean reminders “To thy own self be true” and “man know thyself”. Don’t copy another man’s routine when it’s contrary to your nature. People have times during the day when their brains are most focused and receptive to learning. Everyone does, including my humble self here. If you don’t already know when your peak hours are, then I suggest you monitor your activities for a week and see when you most assimilate best. It could be in the morning (at your brain peak performance time, usually between 2-4 hours after you wake up) or the early afternoons (between 12-4.pm) or in the evenings (between 5-9.pm)
#5 Become A Time Management Guru
Time management isn’t just about having a nonstop reading schedule. Well if that is your strategy for managing time then you’d losing out on a lot. After
a few hours of reading, everything begins to blur. Spare yourself the torture by taking breaks in between reading. It’s the only way you’ll be an effective reader. Preferably, use a timer whenever you read to break up your time into manageable increments that allows you focus your brain in a more targeted and effective way.
You can try the Pomodoro technique which consists of 25 minute blocks of time reading followed by a 5 minutes break. When you’re done with a segment, step away from your desk and do something completely unrelated to the task to give your brain time to rest. Go for a walk, grab a bite or anything else
#6 Remove All Distractions
Distractions are by far the biggest reason behind a lack of focus. The culture of today has become a little intrusive and we have become very susceptible to it unbeknownst. I’ve seen people who can’t get their hands of their mobile phones (its also called smartphone addiction) even when in the classroom or at work. There are also those who are addicted to social media, and are also in the habit of constantly checking their mail, Instagram or twitter feeds. No need to hang your head if you are one of them. I’ve had to deal with something similar of late (My attachment to goal.com). Habits like these can become the real albatross to our work progress. You have to learn how to minimize distractions whenever you are at work. So create your own “Men-work-at-work” signage on the road to your distractions by doing the following:
- Set your phone on Airplane mode whenever there is work to be done
- Notify others of your unavailability during busy hours so they won’t interrupt you.
- Have a social media ritual. Check your emails and social media feeds only 2-3 times a day (midday, in the afternoon, and evening) unless your work is centered on following those feeds.
- Avoid involvement in irrelevant things that won’t have any bearing on the assignment at hand
#7 Locate Your Own Soft Spot
Finding your soft spot means knowing the right combination things that make you truly relaxed whenever you are reading or working. You could have a specific place you love to read or work by like your desk, comfortable couch, or big armchair. It could also be your home or the library. You have to figure where that place is where you are most relaxed working or reading. When you are at it, you can be listening to music with your head phones or anything else that will help shut out the noise from the outside world where you are. You can also snack while you are reading. Its fun right? You bet!