Some psychologists claim the typical student’s attention span is about 10 to 15 minutes long, yet most classes last from 50 to 90 minutes. This is a critical issue, but focus is a muscle that you can build if you work on it.
Primarily, for most people the first and most important step in increasing focus is to change the way they view it.
To explain further, Elie Venezky, author of “Hack Your Brain,” says, “Focus is a muscle and you can build it. Too many people labor under the idea that they are just not focused, and this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once you drop this mistaken belief, you can take a much more realistic approach to building focus.”
1. PREPARE YOUR BRAIN
The best thing to do before completing a task is to calm or prepare your brain. Taking a minute or two to sit in a comfortable position and breathe deeply can really help you focus.
In other words, all you have to do is make your body calm down before you approach your work. This tactic will create a peaceful atmosphere that makes it easier to concentrate.
Freshmen Hannah Smith said,”Before I start doing my homework, I like to sit on my chair and just close my eyes for two minutes, my mind completely blank. Since I am always busy and my mind is always running, this tactic not only calms me down, but it also decreases my stress.”
Another way to calm your brain is meditation. Not only does meditation help you stay calm, research has also shown that meditation can boost your attention span significantly.
One does not have to spend hours meditating. In fact, just 10 to 20 minutes of meditation a day will do the trick. You will see improvement in your attention after just four days.
Overall, start your mornings off focusing on your breath for a few minutes, and you will be able to concentrate more.
2. UNDERSTAND WHERE YOUR FOCUS NEEDS TO BE
Focus involves an understanding of what is worthy of your distraction, says Ron Webb, an executive director at the American Productivity and Quality Center, a nonprofit research organization.
Webb suggests taking time to identify what deserves your focus for the year, month, week, and day. A tip is to keep a calendar and schedule out what “distractions” there are, such as upcoming plans or events. Next, plan tasks around the distractions.
3. UNPLUGGING IS KEY
Smartphones are one of the prime distractions in this day and age, which is why if you need to focus, shutting your phone off and putting it in a different room can be very beneficial. One’s concentration has a greater chance of improving if one is “unplugged.”
Sophomore Neha Nirantar said, “Every time I do not use my phone while doing homework, I find that I finish my work quicker, leaving me more time to do other things.”
4. TURN ON SOME MUSIC
Too much background noise can be very distracting, but according to a study from the Wake Forest School of Medicine and the University of North Carolina, having music playing in the background helps one focus on one’s thoughts.
As mentioned before, it is important to make sure that the music does not become a distraction itself. Focusing on the music more than the task can actually be detrimental instead of beneficial. Like all things, it is key to play music in a moderate fashion.
Whether it is Rihanna, The Rolling Stones, or Ricky Martin, turn it up and get to work.
5.TAKE SHORT BREAKS
Taking a short break in the middle of a long task reenergizes the brain and will help one stay focused on the given task.
Psychologist Alejandro Lleras conducted a study in which he found that participants who were given short breaks during a 50-minute task performed better than those who worked straight through.
Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused. The research suggests that, when faced with long tasks, it is best to take short breaks.
If you are sitting in a room for hours and hours, doodling will help improve your focus and has the added benefit of improving artistic skills.
According to a study from the University of Plymouth in England, doodling aids in cognitive performance and recollection.
“Doodling simply helps to stabilize arousal at an optimal level, keeping people awake or reducing the high levels of autonomic arousal often associated with boredom,” writes lead researcher Jackie Andrade.
Ultimately, these tips and tricks will aid one in improving one’s focus toward any subject. You will be amazed at how much your life can improve just by paying attention to your attention.
How do you try to focus and improve your concentration?