“Focus on being productive instead of busy.”
In today’s digitally dominated world, the best way to increase productivity is to improve concentration and focus.
I am pretty sure that you’re inclined to agree that it’s impossible to fathom life before smartphones. After all, distractions from the digital world are quickly making their way onto our desktops and into our pockets.
Do you ever find it difficult to focus in order to accomplish a task? If you do, you are not alone.
People everywhere are finding it increasingly challenging to concentrate on a particular task at hand. In this distraction-filled digital age, concentration and focus are becoming lost arts.
As for me, I sometimes blame the process of aging for my diminishing powers of concentration and focus. But a recent study by the University of Helsinki proved me wrong.
In that study, it was found that the younger generation had trouble filtering out disturbances.
So, it was somewhat of a relief for me to learn that being distracted has nothing to do with aging. It has more to do with the reality that we live in an increasingly connected world.
The digital world is full of alerts, messages, and notifications designed to take your attention away from your task.
Being interrupted and distracted by smartphones and other digital devices is a common occurrence in this day and age.
On average, a smartphone owner unlocks and checks his or her phone 150 times per day at a 12-minute interval.
According to a University of California study, recovering from an interruption takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds.
Imagine how much your productivity will plunge if you check your smartphone every 12 minutes and then need about 23 minutes to get back into the flow of things.
Consider how much time is lost if you check your phone every 12 minutes. And then you need about 23 minutes to get your focus back.
So how do improve concentration and focus and get back into flow?
When you’re at the top of your game and productivity, you’ll experience flow, that laser-like concentrated state of mind.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the Hungarian psychologist who created this concept, defines flow as:
“A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it”
When you are so deeply focused and totally absorbed in a task that nothing seems to be able to distract you – you are in a state of flow.
This is where you have built a momentum so effortlessly that your actions and state of mind are in harmony.
In moments like these, your work does not feel like work but instead, you are completely absorbed in the activity that it feels like pure enjoyment.
So, are you ready to improve concentration and focus on your life?
If you are ready, here are 9 fail safe ways to boost your ability to focus:
This means no multitasking, no matter how productive you feel while performing multiple activities at the same time.
Neuroscientists can testify that our brain doesn’t really thrive at doing tasks simultaneously. In fact, every time you switch tasks, your brain goes into a start-stop mode.
So, when you multitask, it costs more time, it is less efficient, and you tend to make more mistakes.
Yea, this is a bit of a no-brainer. A good night’s sleep will ensure that you think clearly, remember more, and become more decisive.
Sleep deprivation can cause problems such as an inability to focus, forgetfulness, and decreased productivity.
Use glasses that block out blue light when you use electronic devices that emit blue light. Blue light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms.
A brain break, also known as a “microbreak,” can be any action that gives your brain a boost. It also a good way to improve concentration and focus.
A brain break might be as short as a few seconds or as long as several minutes. As long as it breaks up the monotony of a cognitively or physically demanding activity,
Going to the pantry to have a cup of coffee can be considered a brain break. So is walking to the window to admire the scene on the street for a minute or two.
When you eat, rather than eating with your smartphone, television, or someone else, pay attention to your meal. Focus on its flavors and crunchiness. That is being present.
Mindfulness simply means focusing completely on what you are doing. It is being aware of where you are and observing all the sensations (physical and emotional) you’re experiencing in that moment.
Practicing mindfulness throughout the day will help you improve concentration and focus.
This is probably the toughest one. It takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to deep focus, and yet…
…there’s a huge temptation to unlock your phone, check your Twitter account, and look at photographs on Instagram.
There are no hard and fast rules for this. Turn off email notifications.
Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode during the time you need to concentrate. You can also avoid going online for a few hours.
Whatever it is, you must determine what is most effective for you.
Music makes you feel upbeat, drowns out distracting noises and evokes positive emotions. When you’re listening to music, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical that relieves stress and makes you feel good.
Teresa Lesiuk, associate professor of music therapy at the University of Miami, observed that music can “mild, positive moods.”
In her research, the participants have positive experiences when listening to whatever kind of music they prefer “90% of the time.”
The time management and productivity app, Rescue Time, has an interesting revelation. According to the app creators, knowledge workers have just 2 hours and 48 minutes of productive time each day.
Hence, try not to power through from start to finish on an average workday. Instead, you might want to try aligning your most important work with your most productive time.
Find the time of day when your body is at its best. This is as simple as tapping into your ultradian rhythms.
Ultradian means “many times a day.” Rhythms refer to the up-and-do wave patterns these cycles follow. These rhythms are used to regulate all individuals’ energy production, output, and recovery cycles.
According to sleep expert Nathaniel Kleitman, our bodies go through a 90-to-120-minute cycle. In between this time cycle, you’ll be looping between an unproductive trough and a productive peak.
When you work within that 90-to-120-minute state of alertness, you’ll be 500% more productive. That is where you find your state of flow.
The Pomodoro Technique instills a sense of urgency and helps create sustained concentration. If you are the type that works well under pressure, then this technique is for you.
This strategy is based on concentrated work sessions of 25 minutes with regular 5-minute breaks (referred to as pomodoros).
Using a timer, just focus on a single task for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break.
Then, tackle your next task for 25 minutes. After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.
One proven way to improve concentration and focus is by using hypnosis. If you have a vision of pendulums swinging and spectators clucking like chickens, that is just a Hollywood image.
Hypnosis induces a “calm mind” condition in which your mind is trained to focus and concentrate solely on your objective. According to Stanford University research, hypnosis can help you concentrate on a particular task without being distracted by the environment.
It uses your subconscious’s strengths to put you in a peaceful state of concentration. This allows you to concentrate more on achieving your goals.
The ability to focus and get things done within a stipulated time is crucial in today’s world. To boost your productivity and achieve your goals, work to improve your concentration and focus.
I’d like to close with a quotation from the late Bruce Lee:
“Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
You can improve concentration and focus by merely practicing self-hypnosis (without attending a hypnosis class or session).
Pick a comfortable spot in your home where you can be relaxed without getting disrupted. Create a quiet environment by switching off all your electronic devices before you begin self-hypnosis.
Gently close your eyes and take a deep breath…with each breath you are feeling more and more comfortable and more and more relaxed…where ever you are now…you are experiencing a very calm and confident feeling…even if you can hear sounds coming from around you… it only helps you to relax even more…
Count down slowly from 10 to 1…with each number…you will begin to feel more and more relaxed…10…slowly relax as you take a deep breathe…9…8…let yourself slowly sink deeply as you become more and more relaxed…7…you are feeling absolutely great about yourself…6…drifting slowly…5 with each breathe you are feeling calm…comfortable…relaxed…4…3…that’s right…just allow yourself to drift…slowly…more relaxed…2…1…
In that calmness that you are now experiencing… you are allowing your life to flow…you now find it very easy to focus…and concentrate…every time you take a deep breath…you can focus at will…and you will no longer feel bored with the things around you thus making it easier to concentrate…you are now able structure your time and your life so your energies are not scattered…
Now, you will remember these nine proven methods you have just read…and will apply it purposefully into your life…you no longer have to force yourself to be focused…because it has become something effortless for you…you just flow and…
In your unconscious mind…you can picture yourself doing whatever it is that you want to focus in on…it can be anything…just picture yourself sitting in a comfortable chair…as soon as you are seated…you can immediately immerse yourself in your work or project…with full concentration…with your immersion…you are able to get into a state of flow…
And even if there are sounds in your surrounding environment… you do not hear it…your unconscious mind will help you filter all unnecessary sounds from your surroundings…with each breath…
Your unconscious mind will remember…to help you to be in a flow state…and help you remain in a laser-like focused state…until it is time for you to take a break…your unconscious mind will also help you to filter out all unnecessary sounds…and anything that can be a distraction to your immersion in your tasks…nothing is keeping you from what you are trying to focus on…
Whatever you are trying to concentrate on…you will always be able to get in the zone…you will always be able to give all of your attention toward the task at hand…all your sensory capabilities such as your sense of taste, sound, smell, touch, and sight will always be in harmony with your focus…
They will work in sync with you while you are in your laser focus mode…and will block out all distractions…and help you to succeed at focusing for as long as you need to…
With each breath…you begin to feel that your ability to focus will keep getting better as the days and weeks and months go by …and with each passing moment…your daily productivity will get better…you will begin each day with a fresh vibrant attitude…and right now you have all the abilities necessary to be focused in all tasks that requires your fill attention…
Now…just enjoy this moment…as your body and mind are filled with positive energy…and in that comfortable state…be aware that you will awaken in a few moments time…you will wake up feeling fresh, energized and empowered…
Upon awakening…you will find that you possess a new ability that will stay with you forever…the ability to get into deep focus…stay immersed during while you are doing your tasks and get into a flow state effortlessly…and from this point forth…you will enjoy a greater boost in productivity.