Master Concentration is Not Easy
Most people have a very difficult time being able to stay focused throughout the day. The rise of access to information has seemingly led to the downfall of attention span, and the ability to focus has become one of the most sought after personal development skills. You have chores to do, work to finish, classes to study for; it all comes down to one specific skill, your attention span.
I have struggled the last few years to really hone in my ability to block out distraction and to work towards what I want, and now that I can finally say that I have mastered (somewhat) this skill, I would like to share it with all of you.
Know Your Goals and Know Your Why
The very first thing you NEED to do before you attempt to tackle your minds most valuable resource is to lay the foundation for your actions. Are you trying to move within one years time and you need $20,000 to do it? Is your dream to be a freelance writer and travel the world? Do you have to pass ochem to get into medical school? Figure out what matters most to you first. By doing this you are laying the foundation in your mind for the actions that you will take. If you need help doing this, follow these three easy steps:
- Write down the roles in your life that you are a part of. For example, the work that you do, the personal development goals that you have, the organizations that you are a part of, the family responsibilities that you have.
- Next, identify 1 to 3 goals that you would like to / need to accomplish in each specific role that you identified in your life. This will serve as the core group of tasks that you will focus your time on.
- For each goal, create an action plan that can lead you to accomplishing those goals. For example, if I wanted to get an A in my ochem class, I might want to study for 30 minutes every day from 9:00 am to 9:30 am throughout the entire semester. Just make sure to BE SPECIFIC!!!
Now that you have your goals in mind, it is time to learn how to best accomplish them. I would like to note that this method is simply to identify your goals and why you need to focus. Learning why you want to accomplish these goals is an entirely different subject I have covered elsewhere.
Learn the Techniques
There are many techniques that have been developed to help someone attune their mental focus. Many of these are combinations of multiple focusing techniques, so I will share with you what I have developed for myself over the years.
Always, always get at least 7 hours of sleep– Sleep has been my greatest ally over the last year. Once I made the decision to quit staying up late and allowing myself to get the proper amount of sleep each night, my productivity and focus has drastically increased. Fatigue plays a major role in someones ability to focus and if you are not fully rested then it can be very difficult to keep focused on the task at hand.
Drink a lot of water and eat healthy– This section is huge. Proper nutrition will not only give your body a boost, but also will sharpen your mind. There have been studies that show even mild dehydration can lead to a lack of attention span, and that eating healthy, non-processed foods will give you a mental edge over others. I have switched my diet to only eat healthy foods and drink at least 1.5 liters of water a day. I feel so much better from doing this, and I know that you will have a noticeable improvement in your ability to concentrate if you do as well. A healthy body equals a healthy mind, and a healthy mind can work faster, more efficiently, and concentrate for longer periods of time.
Exercise- Exercise is the other half of nutrition. Exercise will increase the neurosynaptic firing inside of your mind and help to stimulate the release of endorphins. This will increase the mental connections made in your brain and help you to think more clearly and more attentively. The best part about exercise is that you can cheat. By simply going for a 20 minute walk you will refresh your mind and be more ready to work and focus when you get back. If you do not have the time to do a full out workout (even though you should make time), a simple 20 minute walk can work wonders.
Meditate- Meditation may be the single most important thing you can do for not only your concentration each day, but also for your entire overall health. Mediation used to be regarded as a very liberal idea and practice. People would disregard the positive effects that it has and and shy away from such a foreign notion. But now, there have been droves of scientific evidence that are backing the positive benefits of just 10 to 15 minutes of mediation a day. Mediation has been proven to grow your cerebral cortex (grey matter) that is in your brain and to help clear your mind of distraction. These are both massive benefits to having a greater focus and concentration.
Prioritize/Schedule/Less Multi-Tasking- If you try to do everything then you will never accomplish anything. Every Sunday sit down for 20 to 30 minutes and make a list of what you want to accomplish for the week. Rank what is most important in your life and schedule times throughout the week to accomplish these tasks. This small amount of structure in your life will reap rewards that last a life time. You will find that you are more focused, more effective, and in turn have more free time to do whatever you want. I do this every week, and I have found that the more I work at my schedule the more I get done and the more free time I have. Lastly, DO NOT multi-task. If you focus on too much then everything you want to do gets slowed down.
Review your why and shift your attitude- No matter what, there will be times when you don’t want to do something. There will be that lack of drive to accomplish the goals and tasks that you have set for yourself. When this happens, you just have to do one thing. Remember your why. Why are you writing this article, why are you studying, why do you need to work a terrible job. This will shift you attitude and allow you do fight through the work that you don’t feel like doing. Personally, I look at my vision of my life. If I have to get through something that I do not feel like doing I just put the image of my future in front of me and everything clears up. The hard work is no longer hard and the focus comes back.
Watch Your Life Reach New Levels of Success
With this information you have a solid framework to build a focused and successful life. These techniques have been proven to work, and with a little application they can work for you as well. You are in control of your life, you make the decisions that lead to your future, and you are the guiding light that brings all of your hopes and desires into a living reality. Lastly, make sure to take breaks. You may want to be the most effective machine on the planet, but if you do not give you mind a little time to cool down then you might just over-heat.