In this day and age of amazing technology and multi-tasking mania, it probably seems as if we should be able to get more done than ever before. But as the Huffington Post notes, technology can actually be more of a distraction than a tool to help us focus. If you feel as if you’re losing your mental edge and that your memory isn’t what it used to be, the following tips and suggestions might help you to regain your clarity:
Limit Outside Stimuli
Although many people pride themselves at being masterful multi-taskers, trying to do more than one thing at once has a negative impact on our ability to concentrate. To improve your ability to pay attention, turn off the TV and any loud music. Eliminate the constant beeping your phone makes when you get a new text by setting it to Do Not Disturb mode when you need to focus on something important.. Focus on one thing at a time. By reducing the amount of sensory input you are receiving, you will be able to bolster your ability to accomplish more things.
Walk Instead of Caffeinate
Interestingly, if you are a major coffee fan who loves your mid-morning or (and?) afternoon latte fix, you might actually be training your brain to rely on caffeine in order to concentrate. While you can certainly still enjoy your java in moderation, consider cutting back on your caffeine intake and boost your daily exercise. Even a brisk walk around the block has been found to improve your ability to concentrate — both for short and long stretches of time.
Exercise Your Brain
As Psychology Today notes, mental challenges like puzzles and games can help to keep everything firing away inside your noggin. Choose puzzles that you enjoy, but also require you to sit down and really concentrate in order to solve them. The iWin website features several Sudoku games that are challenging and fun at the same time, as well as other games that can help to boost memory and concentration. If crosswords are your thing, you can pick up a book of puzzles at your local grocery or bookstore and try to complete one every day during your lunch hour. Trying to learn a foreign language is also a terrific way to give your gray matter a workout. To really focus on what you are doing, set a timer for 20 minutes and work at the new language until the timer dings.
If you regularly get less than seven hours of sleep a night, your ability to concentrate will be one of the first things to go. As research has found, skimping on sleep means that you are missing out on spending time in the delta phase of sleep, which can lead to challenges in focusing and a lack of concentration. Do what you can to get at least eight hours of sleep a night for at least 10 days in a row. You'll notice its affect in your ability to focus.
When it comes to improving concentration, meditation is an amazing tool. You can either check out a book at the library that teaches some basic meditation techniques, or watch instructional videos online. There are many audio tracks available that provide guided meditation. When you are meditating, focus on your breathing. Breathing alone will teach you how to concentrate on just one thing at a time. As you monitor your breathing, it will naturally slow down, leading to a peaceful yet focused state.