David Rock, the author of Brain at Work, says—“We are only focused on our work merely 6 hours a week.”
How well we concentrate is said to determine our success. Staying focused is challenging in today’s world because we are living in an era of information overload! Being connected at all times to the internet, events, and people serves as distractions and keep us from our goals. In this post, I want to share some of the ways I stay focused to accomplish my goals and turn my dreams into reality.
7 Hacks to Increase Focus:
- Minimize notifications: Every time your screen lights up, the blood in your brain moves away from the area of concentration it was just in. This sudden rush of blood from one area of the brain to another is said to decrease our momentum (concentration). To avoid this decrease in productivity, I like to turn off notifications to unimportant applications and emails. If I am working on something important or detailed orientated I like to turn off my phone, all together, to avoid any loss in momentum. This can be drastic for some but it gets the job done for me.
- Write out your tasks the night before: One of the worst distractions is remembering we forgot to do something important while working on something important. My solution is to allocate some time to focus on all the important things we have to do the next day. I usually allocate 5 minutes before going to bed to jot down the things I must get done the next day. This little hack keeps me organized and eliminates the stress of forgetting something.
- Limit Multi-tasking: In today’s corporate world it is very difficult to completely eliminate multitasking, but time is money and you must learn how to prioritize the things you give focus to. When I first get a new task I ask myself the following questions: 1) Can I delegate this? If the answer is yes, then I send it to the team that can help me complete that task. If not, I ask, 2) how important is this task? If it can wait, I add it to my to-do list. I tend to feel more relaxed when I work on things in order of importance.
- Stretch, Breathe, and Laugh: Lack of concentration can occur due to stress and anxiety. These things negatively affect our focus because they decrease the oxygen flow in our brains. If I am feeling stressed I like to stop what I am doing and do chair-yoga exercises and/or breathing techniques. Breathing and yoga automatically increase our oxygen intake, which in turn, strengthens our mental functions. I also find that laughter plays a big role in our mental well-being. I like to watch funny YouTube videos (make sure it is no more than two minutes) to release stress and increase my mood. Releasing the “happy” endorphin in our brains minimizes anxiety allowing our minds to properly function and concentrate.
- Eat Lightly: Nutrition plays a big role in our concentration. Experts say eating heavy meals increases our blood sugar levels and fogs up the neurotransmitters in our brains. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that are responsible for memory, focus, motivation, and anxiety. Since our body is all interconnected what we put in our gut goes right into our brain. Many nutritionists call the brain the second gut. I find that when I give my gut natural foods like veggies, fruits, or complex carbs my mind rewards me by staying clear and focused.
- Get your Zzz: Trying to finish a big project on three hours of sleep makes staying focused impossible. Make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep on average and drink lots of water before bed to recharge your organs (including your mind) for the next day.
- Live more present: This one is a work-in-progress for me, but on most days I succeed. Sometimes we need to take some time off from thinking about where we want to be or thinking about our next move and just devote our focus solely to the present moment. I find that writing out a list of “10 things I am grateful for today” is a great way to return back into the present and stay focused on what I have to do today. I also like to remind myself of my “why”. Remember, our “why” is our biggest motivator, it is the reason we get up in the mornings. Focusing on the “why” returns us back to the work we must get done today in order to accomplish what we want in the future.