Everyone has times when they lack their usual focus - and the distractions seem to mount up around them. Fortunately, improving your concentration at work can be made much easier by adopting some or all of the following tips. As the author of Hack Your Brain, Elie Venezky says: the key to improving your concentration at work is to change the way you view it. Venezky maintains that when a person believes they are not focused, it soon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The answer is to dispel that idea and, using a combination of mindset and tools, set up an environment that truly fosters concentration.
This can be done in the following ways:
Calm your brain
By spending a few minutes relaxing before taking on a difficult task, you can allow both your body and your brain to calm down before you approach your work. This may be as simple as doing a little meditation, or just sitting in a chair and doing some deep breathing exercises
Prioritise your focus
Identify and prioritise your focus for the coming year, the month, the week, and for the day. By knowing what is worthy of your focus and blocking time off in your calendar to allow for it, you will help reduce distractions and focus more on the important things
By turning off your email alerts or social media for half an hour at the beginning and end of each working day, you should be able to get much more done. This is because it prevents the constant onslaught of updates for at least a short period of time, allowing you to more fully concentrate on the work at hand
Take a break
A recent study by University of Illinois’ psychologist Alejandro Lleras found those participants who took short breaks during a 50-minute task actually performed better than those who worked straight through. This is because, as mentioned earlier, we all lose concentration at times; and taking a short break in the middle of a long task can really ‘re-energize’ the brain
Time your workload
Our brains work best at different times of the day, so if you are a morning person, it is probably best not to wait until the end of the day to tackle your most difficult assignment. And by recognising exactly when you are at your most capable mentally, it is a great way to get things done more efficiently and quickly.
According to a recent MindTools article, nutrition can also play a big part in improving concentration at work. Therefore, it can really pay to adopt some of the following simple nutritional tips:
Many of us don't think about drinking water while we are at work, yet dehydration can make us feel tired, irritable or slow. Also, when our brains don't have enough fluid, they can't operate at peak performance. So staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to help improve your concentration during the day
Start your day with a healthy breakfast. It's much harder to concentrate when you're hungry, so eat a well-rounded meal before you go to work. You can also help your concentration throughout the day by keeping healthy snacks at your desk. Almonds, whole-grain crackers, fresh fruit, and vegetables are good choices
Get up and move around
Do you walk around during the day? If you are like many people, you probably don't move around enough. Research has shown that regular walking can help increase your focus during the day. This also helps you to get the most out of what you are doing, and is a good way to relieve stress.
Finally, another good tip is to promise yourself a small reward for a ‘job well done’. For example, try making it a rule that if you focus intensively for 45 minutes on one task, you can take a break to get a cup of coffee when you finish. These little ‘self-rewards’ can be great motivators.
In conclusion, improving concentration at work can be made much easier by applying some or all of the above guidelines; and the benefits are likely to be felt not only by you, but also throughout the organisation.