In today’s world distractions are more prolific than ever. Many people tell me that they go on their computer to do one thing and end up being diverted from their purpose by incoming mail that looks interesting, or the ads that pop up on their screens distracts them. Others tell me that the telephone ringing is hard to ignore. Many people are distracted from their project by thinking of the number of things on the “to do” list. Staying focused on the intended task requires mental clarity and conscious determination. Improved concentration can be developed.
Here are some tips to keep your mind from wandering off course, and refine your concentration.
If you are not on call for crucial information or emergencies, turn off your telephone, and let it go to voicemail unless you are expecting a call directly related to the work at hand. Yes, I know you don’t want to play phone tag, or miss connecting with a friend, however, nor do you want to get involved with something irrelevant to your task. And stop texting while working, and while driving for that matter: Responsible drivers keep their minds on the road. And don’t let coworkers or anyone else start chit chatting around or to you when you are working. When you look available it will be assumed you are.
Be prepared: Make sure before you start a task you have everything you need on hand and in front of you: All too often when leaving your desk or computer to get what you need to proceed, something irrelevant could all too easily draw your attention away from your destination.
Take a few moments to relax before getting into your project. It’s difficult to concentrate when you are tense, so take a few long deep breaths, do abdominal breathing and be sure to inhale through your nose and exhale completely. Be sure your shoulders are down and your posture correct. Poor posture inhibits natural and adequate breathing, and breath is what helps get oxygen to your brain. Tension drains mental energy.
Train your mind. Here are some exercises that will refine your concentration and at the same time improve your memory. You’ll need a watch or clock with a second hand to time yourself. First find something in the room to focus on. Then, look at the clock and time your ability to stay focused on that object.
Repeat that exercise again and again to see how many more seconds you can maintain attention to that object only. As long as you keep that object in mind, no matter what you think about it, you are still concentrating. The more you practice the better your concentration will get. Another way to improve concentration is to do the above exercise in different ways. For example, see how long you can maintain focus with your eyes open as compared to with them closed. Do your best to increase your focus for longer periods each time. Practice will enhance your ability to concentrate. Change the object of focus often too. Add another dimension to this exercise; see how well you can concentrate while someone else is talking to you, or while the radio or TV is on loudly close by. Find various ways to employ distractions to challenge your concentration while doing the above training exercises.
The so-called “Mozart effect” for learning can also work for improved focus. Studies have been done to prove that the brain opens up more to new information when listening to Mozart. In fact it has proven to help people with previously impassable developmental blocks. It’s not a stretch of the imagination or logic to assume that it can also aid people in maintaining focus. So not only are they pleasant and relaxing, they can help you in many other ways too. Don’t like Mozart? Check out other recordings that have the same mind enhancing effect.
Put a do not disturb sign on your door, or if in an open cubical, somewhere where others can see it. Let others know you do not choose to be interrupted for a given period of time. Allowing others to interrupt you while working on something is bound to delay your accomplishments, and it’s often harder to get back into the work mode again. Set boundaries.
SEVEN: Make sure you get enough sleep. It’s hard to concentrate when you are tired. Inadequate sleep means you will be less alert and less capable of maintaining your concentration. Sleep depravation makes it difficult for your brain to function at its peak performance levels. Go to bed when tired; get up when you feel rested. Be regular in your sleep patterns to help set your biorhythms to their ideal for you. The average amount of sleep required is 7-8 hours.
Learn to deal with stress effectively. Healthy coping skills enable you to function well in every respect. in every aspect of your life. Stress steals mind space and psychic energy, making it almost impossible to concentrate well. If emotionally stressed your concentration will suffer. If something is bothering you, address it forthrightly, decide what can and cannot be done at this moment , and if there’s nothing you can do right now, decide to let it go for the time being, with the understanding that you will attend to the issue when you have the time and an appropriate place to do so.
Stay interested. Boredom is s common cause of poor focus. Adjust your attitude: No matter how many times you have done this task, think of it as the first time you are doing it this time: Because, in fact you have never done it this time before. You can make it a mental game; you can act as if you are teaching someone else to do it. Be creative.
Alcohol will soggy up your brain cells, which means they cannot do the work required of them. So when there is a task to complete, don’t drink before starting or during doing it. Think of your brain as the hardware of your computer, and your mind the software. If you do something to damage the hardware, the software won’t work. It’s why we are advised to not drink and drive. The same applies to eating a large meal before setting out on a task that requires your concentration. The brain needs constant blood flow to operate. The soporific feeling you have after a heavy meal is because digestion draws blood away from your brain and impairs the brain’s function. So eat light before starting a job, you’ll have a clearer mind and the energy you need to work and your focus will be good.
Oh, and one more thing: There are many causes for poor concentration, so you need to be aware of what the contributing factors are in your case. So become aware of what you are being pulled away by: Is it internal or external? External obviously is about being unduly attracted to whatever is going on around you. Internal means you allowing your mind to wander to irrelevant topics; paying attention to the flow of conscious or subconscious thought processes drags you away from the needs of the moment. That’s why I teach thought control to my Mind Mastery students. If you are worried or deeply concerned, there will be a tendency to allow you’re your thoughts about the issues to generate emotions, which in turn will pull you away from employing your intellectual processes: It is difficult to think and feel at the same time. You can, and certainly need to learn to make the conscious determination to keep your emotions from interfering with what is necessary in the now. My Mind Mastery Course teaches conscious control of mind body emotions and behaviors; students and graduates are always amazed at the improvement of their ability of focus, as well as improved control in every aspect of their lives. Also my Self Hypnosis training course is a great tool to accomplish everything related to self-improvement. With those tools you are certain to improve your focus and concentration.
Go to www.elainekissel.com for more information on those powerful life-changing courses.
Until next time, all the best, always, from Elaine Kissel
Next blog: How to live with yourself.