Use these five simple strategies to improve concentration. Concentration is best defined as the ability to control one’s attention. It is how we direct attention to a specific subject. Sometimes it isn’t easy to give something our full attention because we think about other things while working. This is especially true while reading. Other times, our attention is split between various tasks as we try to multitask.
Let’s consider a few quick fixes to help us concentrate right now.
Decide to Concentrate
Sometimes all it takes is a loud thought. By that, I mean put on your sternest inner voice, turn up the volume and say to yourself, “I am going to give this project my complete attention right now!”
We can command ourselves. If we really make a decision to do something, then we will do it.
After a while, concentration wanes. Often, we can draw ourselves back to attention, but when we can’t, it’s time to take a break. Some people become too distracted after ten minutes to continue being productive. It’s important to know when a break is necessary. A couple of minutes of physical activity, like walking, is usually enough to help reset the mind.
Use Mental Balloons
Mental balloons are my favorite cure when my mind wanders, especially when reading. Sometimes it takes a while to realize that your mind has wandered from what you’re doing. When you do, and you bring yourself back to the task, it’s easy for your mind to slip back to the distraction.
When this happens, I take a moment to mentally inflate a big red balloon and stuff the distracting thought inside of it. I watch it float away. For whatever reason, it stops the intrusive thought from returning, allowing me to focus again.
Eliminating distractions is probably the most challenging strategy for most people. Closing the laptop, putting the phone in another room, and ensuring the TV is off will help improve your attention. Even music with lyrics will harm your ability to concentrate. If you prefer some noise in the background, classical music without lyrics is your best option.
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If we try to split our attention between two or more tasks, we aren’t doing anything effectively. It’s just a fact. The human brain cannot multitask. Instead, we are task-switching. (Click here for more about task-switching.)
When we switch tasks, it takes time to refocus. Furthermore, we aren’t able to get into the work, so we end up doing a worse job than if we completed one task, then moved on to the next.
By using these four simple strategies, every learning task you tackle will have a higher chance of success. Focusing on one thing is also simpler and less stressful. So, take a breath and tell yourself, “I am going to give this project my complete attention right now!”