What’s fogging up your focus? Modern life is fogging up your focus.
We’ve all experienced brain fog from time to time, but when we’re sleep deprived new parents, that fog becomes a significant hazard. There are simple ways to improve concentration without putting in too much extra effort. And usually, they’re fun… just part of the self-care we stop doing for ourselves.
Life is going to blindside us. Even when we’re prepared, so one of the best ways to save our sanity is to improve our concentration.
1. Take Breaks to Improve Concentration and Focus
One of the easiest ways to concentrate is to stop alltogether. What? Yeah. Take a break to replenish concentration. That’s what you’re doing right now isn’t it? Exactly.
If you can ensure that you’re taking the right kind of breaks, and avoid the wrong type, it can do a world of good. It’s why major universities, like the University of North Carolina, tell their students to take frequent short breaks, to improve their concentration.
It’s better than taking adderol. Apparently. Seriously though, if you have mental health concerns, get some help.
So throw caution ot the wind and take better breaks by doing something you enjoy. That should make your break more restful.
Research shows timing can also be important to help focusing.
Taking breaks earlier in the day and doing preferred activities lead to better health, job satisfaction, and revival of energy, motivation, and concentration.
2. Spend Time in Nature Without Any Computer, Phone, or Device
If you need help focusing spending time in nature has been shown to boost focus. You don’t even need to get into the “great outdoors.”
This can be done by walking around the block or visiting a park down the street from your company. Cities that invest in urban parks have been shown to have workers who are more productive and know how to concentrate better.
Can’t get outside? Bringing plants inside has also been proven to boost productivity by 15%. That’s a bigger increase than using a seasonal affective disorder lamp. Fresh air and greenery seem like natural strategies for concentration.
How does this help me specifically improve my focus?
Walking in nature and spending time outside is proven to improve mental health, reduce stress and increase focus. Spending a few minutes of your day outside is proven to have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing.
Plus you might smell better… or worse. Who cares?
Won’t Someone Think of The Children?
Brain training can benefit children, too.
Children may enjoy more detailed coloring pages, like those found in adult coloring books. Coloring books are also fantastic ways to lower anxiety in both adults and children.
A 20-minute walk in the park could help improve concentration more than a walk of the same length in an urban setting. Plus it tires them out and hopefully moves them closer to a quiet bedtime.
3. Drink caffeine
C’mon. You knew caffine was going to make this list. Caffeine is a stimulant that can help you stay alert and energized throughout the day. Although, as with any drug, it can be both addictive and produce nasty withdrawl effects.
It’s best to drink moderate amounts of caffeine to get the highest tolerable benefits for the average adult. Be weary, any focus techniques that require outside stimulation can be problematic. We’re not anything close to doctors, but generally more than 400mg is going to run you into trouble and have diminishing returns.
How much caffeine does a cup of coffee or tea have?
A cup of coffee or tea is about 100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine.
If you’re going to stick to a cup of mud as to improve concentration and focus, we recommend NooWave’s Flow State coffee. This delicious brew is loaded with natural cacao and L-Theinine to help reduce the jitters. Plus, Greg’s a pretty cool dude.
I am assuming that from his newsletter and the photos on his website. I don’t actally know him personally. The coffee is damned good though.
4. Strategies for Concentration: Pomodoro Brain Training
Nobody wants to work out when they’re exhausted. Working out is for when you’re feeling pretty good. And even then…
But as strategies for concentration go, this one isn’t bad.
The Pomodoro method is a time-blocking technique that can help compartmentalize your tasks into manageable 25-minute intervals.
To use the Pomodoro method, work for 25 minutes, taking five minute breaks in between 25 minute intervals. After four of these intervals, you can take a longer 15-30 minute break.
Ambient noise like cars honking or kids screaming can stimulate the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which can impair focus and hinder concentration.
Playing certain types of games can help you get better at concentrating and develop your working and short-term memory, as well as your processing and problem-solving skills. Even “brain rotting” games like Bejeweled have been show to actually improve concentration.
5. How to Concentrate: Limit Your Focus
“No” is your friend. People who say you can multi-task and do it all are lying. Or ignorant. Result is the same. It’s why so many of us work from home… before, you know, the unpleasantness of COVID-19.
Limit your focus to one task at a time or you’re going to have a bad time.
Stop multitasking and give your full attention to one thing.
Take care of your mental space because it is really all you’ve got. In much the same way an airline stewardess tells you to put on your mask before helping others, you’ve got to do that mentally if you want to learn how to concentrate.
6. Attention Solution: Have You Checked Your Kitchen Lately?
Drink water to stay hydrated. Start there and the rest largely falls into place.
Eat breakfast to start the day with energy, and make sure it contains some real food. This culture is a quivering sea of anxiety because we’re trying to do too much and do it all too quickly. Slow down, make a real meal. This will come into play later in the list, but for now, just make sure at least one of your meals is real food.
We’ve been trying “Meatless Monday” with some success. It’s good for the planet and my brain fog. So along with a daily multi-vitamin, see what works for you.
7. How to Improve Focus with Aligned Incentives
Organizations can suffer from Process Attentition Deficit Disorder, or PADD. It’s the corporate equivilent of ADHD. And you can’t medicate it, so it’s worth learning something about how corporations afflicted with ADT are going about resolving it.
The brain is a complex series of nuerons and pathways using hardware hundreds of thousands of years old. Getting that thing to fire properly is going to have some quirks.
Someof the biggest companies have found that realigning incentive structures can go a long way toward engaging apathetic employees. Think about how you can realign your own incentive structures to ensure that you’re not burning your brain out entirely.
Remember, turn off the phone. The struggle is real.
8. Incorporate a Note Taking Task to Collect Data
Information stored on a device can include cookies, device identifiers, or other information. This lets you come back to the information later on. The less you have to mentall recall on your own, without any type of aid, the better.
Consent is required for some features of the app, such as viewing ads or content. So do what a good, ethical reporter does, and ask for permission before you slam that notepad or smartphone down on the desk.
I love Calmer Notes. Created by Dr. Elizabeth Butler, it’s a system designed to grant you “personal knowledge management.” Which sounds downright sexy, does it not?
9. Research Shows Meditation Increases Concentration and Reduce Distractions
We knew meditation was going to be on this list. Not because it is a no-brainer way to improve your focus, but because we don’t have a good idea of what it is. While meditation has been found to improve focus and concentration, we think we’re not supposed to think!
Which makes it sound too hard. Our busy minds can’t quiet and so we give up. But if you really want to learn how to concentrate, we need to focus on mindfulness. Here’s a good primer on what mindfulness is:
- Sit or lie quietly on the ground. Notice where you touch the ground. Creatively called “grounding.”
- Experience your thoughts. Don’t try to force yourself to be silent or have an empty mind.
- If you experience a thought, notice it, acknowledge it, and let it pass.
It shouldn’t need to be more complicated than that. Especially when starting out. Get the basics and go from there. Watch your stress levels melt away.
If you’re not into the whole “Eastern thing,” Dr. Herbert Benson showed that the “Relaxation Response” reduced the activation of the amygdala, which decreases emotional responses in humans. Thus we get a lower “default mode network activity.” We’re just calmer.
10. When in Spain… Do What the Spaniards Do.
Spain is a Southern Medeterranin climate, not unlike San Diego, so we’re pretty accostomed to the siesta culture. It came about when farm workers would beat the mid-day heat with a little nap. This midday slump they were avoiding is caused by biochemical changes in the body.
In addition to beating work, a midday nap can boost your productivity and focus as the brain runs through its sleep cycles. Dreams may seem like a trip, but the brain is actually doing quite a bit more.
As the brain dips into the REM cycle stage of sleep it will begin to incorporate what it has learned throughout the day thus far.
Let’s look at a few reasons why incorporating a nap into your day will help with concentration and how to get it done.
Reason 1: Napping is One of The Best Ways to Improve Concentration
Napping improves attention.
This is the most important benefit of napping.
This method can be used for making decisions and committing to doing one thing right away.
In order to reap the benefits of napping, it is important to find a routine that works for you and stick to it.
Reason 2: Napping will clear your brain’s inbox
Research has found that during sleep, information is transferred from short-term to long-term storage.
This clears space for new learning and helps the brain process information.
The best time to nap is in the afternoon, when energy starts to dwindle. Instead of reaching for that extra cup of coffee, go for a nap. It could be even more effective.
To avoid deep stages of sleep, aim for a 15-20 minute power nap.
Reason 3: Napping lifts your mood and reduces anxiety
Nap can improve mood and reduce anxiety.
Nap helps you become more introspective and understand what makes you tick.
Set realistic goals, promise yourself a reward you’ll really enjoy, and only reward yourself when you complete the goal as planned – no cheating!
Tip 1: Find your circadian dip
Most people experience a lull in energy around 1-3 pm in the afternoon.
This is when the brain produces a neurotransmitter to promote sleep and suppress arousal called adenosine.
After about 16 hours of being awake, that chemical has built up so much that you need to sleep to release it.
The length of these power naps vary from person to person but generally aim for 15-20 minutes to
avoid deep stages of sleep (which will cause grogginess).
Gratitude journaling can help focus on good experiences while enjoying the positive emotions that go along with them.
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study found that those who wrote in a gratitude journal weekly for 10 weeks experienced more gratitude, optimism, and positive moods than those who wrote in the journal daily.
Becoming more productive and valuable is possible by turning your focus into valuable results. Take some time to think of your own focus formula and master the art of becoming a more productive leader.
By taking action now, you can achieve valuable results!
Tip 2: Fall asleep quickly
To fall asleep quickly, take deep, slow breaths and keep warm.
Stretch before you nap to reduce muscle tension. Yoga helps, though any basic stretches should work.
Unplug from distractions to help you focus. No blue lights before you shut down. 30 minutes at least if you can spare it. So nix the computer, the phone, or any device with a colorful screen. More time is needed for kids though.
Fall asleep by focusing on positive thoughts and accomplishments. Anxiety is only going to keep your mind firing and produce more static. Set the mind up for a win.
Tip 3: Don’t have nap pods or nap rooms?
Nap pods or nap rooms can help you get a good night’s sleep. They were all the rage in the new age offices, but not so much post 2020.
Under the desk Costanza style could work in a pinch. As dark and cool as possible. Think of a child’s nursery school classroom.
11. Measure Your Results and Improve Focus
If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. So be sure to measure your progress to stay focused. Journaling itself is a great way to do this and there are several great journals on the market to prompt you in a productive direction.
Human beings like to keep score. We are competetive, social, animals. We have been competing since the Neanderthal man, and before that we were competing in the “survival of the fittest”. The reason why we compete is to prove who’s stronger, faster or smarter than the next person. We all want to be the best and be considered as such.
And yet we’ll overlook something as simple as actually measuring our progress in any meaningful way. Our ability to use our device to check an email account is astounding, but our ability to measure our track record…
The key is to realize that measuring isn’t a judgment about who you are, it’s just feedback on where you are. To know where you want to go, you have to know where you are.
Wrapping Up How to Improve Concentration
Improving one’s concentration isn’t all that difficult, but it does take work. The reward on that investment though is nearly immeasurable. Our brains see gains that let us spend our life on pursuits we find interesting and help to focus our attention on what really matters.
Time is the only commodity we can’t get back so the faster we can get the work done such that we can get to leisure, the better. Interested in learning more? Grab our free report, the Focus Files, and take your concentration game to the next level.