External and internal distractions keep us from staying focused and performing properly. We show you how to improve your mental focus with a few simple guidelines.
It has happened to all of us: some days we are much more efficient and productive than others . Sometimes we are able to complete tasks in record time and obtaining excellent results, while other times we take hours with an apparently simple activity. What are these differences due to? Well to the mental focus.
We can define this concept as the ability to direct our mental energy in one direction and maintain it without succumbing to distractions. It is a term closely related to attention and concentration. It is what, ultimately, allows us to meet goals, acquire learnings and perform in a variety of daily tasks.
If our mental focus is deficient, we will be wasting valuable time each day that we could use in leisure, personal growth or taking care of social relationships. But in addition, our performance is likely to be well below capabilities.
So why not start developing this important cognitive ability? We show you how to do it .
Tips to keep in mind to improve mental focus
The mental focus varies every day and even within the same day. However, there are people who are more trained than others to stay focused and be efficient. The good news is that you can do it too.
1. Determine your current mental focus
Before starting to work it is interesting that you try to get an idea of your current situation . Do you feel that you are good at organizing, prioritizing and directing your attention? Or do you tend to be easily distracted, tend to daydream and multitask?
In children it is common to observe their distractions when they have to do schoolwork, for example.
2. Regulate distractions
The hectic and technological world we live in makes it difficult to stay focused. Distractions are just a click away and we have become accustomed to immediacy.
Therefore, it is common that when we try to concentrate we find ourselves checking smartphones . Also, if the work environment is noisy and the people around you interrupt, the situation worsens.
For this reason, it is essential to avoid this type of stimulus as much as possible . Disconnect your mobile phone, turn off the TV, find a quiet environment and ask other people not to bother you for a while. You will see that with these simple steps your concentration and your productivity will increase.
However, although regulating distractions is essential to be efficient in our tasks, the goal is not to eliminate them. And it is that the mind needs short breaks after long periods of sustained attention. Otherwise it stops working fine.
In this regard, it has been shown that changing activities, even for a very short time, helps us improve concentration. Getting up, going for a glass of water, or thinking about something different for a few minutes may be enough .
3. Train your brain
The brain is plastic and adaptable , so it is possible to train cognitive abilities, such as concentration or mental focus. However, it also works by habits, so if you are used to being distracted, daydreaming and paying little attention to the tasks you do, inertia will lead you to continue doing it.
Fortunately, some studies have found that with just 15 minutes a day you can train your mental focus by playing some simple and entertaining games. Sudokus , crosswords or puzzles are good options to improve concentration.
Video games have even been found to bring similar benefits. In addition, today there are many cognitive training applications that you can download and use.
Discover more: The 8 best exercises to train and increase brain power
4. Plan and rate your work
Planning and organization are closely related to the mental approach, since they are the previous step to achieve the goals. To be aware of whether you are managing to improve your concentration, it is important that you can measure that progress .
Planning the activities that you are going to tackle each day and writing down the results you get will allow you to evaluate your progress. In addition, for every little task we accomplish, our brain rewards us with a release of dopamine that motivates us.
Thus, try to establish priorities within your obligations and attend to the most relevant ones first. The feeling of satisfaction and advancement that you will get will help you continue with the rest.
5. Practice meditation and mindfulness
Although the most visible distractions are external ones, internal ones too can become an enemy of concentration and mental focus. And it is that the undisciplined mind is used to wandering between the experiences of the past and the concerns of the future.
If we want to be productive and effective we need to be completely mentally involved in the task we are doing; not get carried away by memories or anticipations. For this, meditation and mindfulness have proven to be powerful tools. These practices, however, take time to settle and become habits.
However, you can start with simple exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing. They will help you regain focus when you lose it.
Keep reading: 7 benefits you get thanks to meditation
6. Never stop trying
Apply all the above measures and get results is not a matter of a day . You need to be persistent and disciplined and stay alert to detect as soon as possible that our attention is deviating from its objective. However, with perseverance and determination you will see changes that will encourage you.
Other tips to improve concentration
In addition to the above, there are other tips that you can take into account to get the most out of your time and your skills:
- Eat a balanced dietthat includes nuts, oily fish, eggs, and dark chocolate. These foods will help you improve your concentration levels.
- Establish a routine that signals your brain that it’s time to get to work. Small gestures, such as having a coffee at the beginning of each work day or playing classical music before starting, can be enough.
- Stay active. Exercising regularly helps increase levels of attention and concentration.
- Take your mobile phone away from you. This is useful if you are one of those who are tempted to consult it even when it is silent. Having to get up and go to another room to get it will reduce the number of times you do it.
Paying too much attention to the phone reduces the focus on the work task that we have to do.
Factors that enhance distractions
It is important to note that there are certain conditions that can aggravate concentration problems. We show you what they are so you can take the appropriate measures:
- The lack of sleepaffects cognitive abilities significantly. Therefore, a person with insufficient or fragmented rest will find it more difficult to maintain mental focus .
- Motivation is essential for attention to be maintained. Thus, if the task is overwhelming, it is more likely that we tend to be distracted by everything that is within our reach.
- Some mental conditions, like ADHDor cognitive impairment (especially in older adults) make it challenging to stay focused.
- Similarly, disorders such as depression or anxiety affect concentration significantly.
Ultimately, the brain is a complex organ that must be trained and exercised in order to remain fully operational. If you experience difficulties concentrating, it is important that you review your habits and make the necessary changes .