The inability to focus can come from anything – overwork, lack of sleep, not taking adequately long breaks, not taking any breaks or being overstimulated with too many things to distract you.
Regardless of the reason for the lack of focus the end result is…. FRUSTRATION. We get caught in a cycle of being unable to focus then getting frustrated and stressed about not being productive which in turns makes you even less productive? We have all been stuck in that loop at one time or another.
The way to improve your focus is to change the way we view it? I recently read the book Hack you Brain by Elie Venezky which was referred to me by a fellow psychologist and it was brilliant. He says that ‘Focus is a muscle, and you can build it…. Too many people labor under the idea that they’re just not focused and this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy’
Here are the 5 tips I gleaned from his book to get rid of distractions and improve your focus:
- Get your brain ready – Hack your Brain suggests that you calm your brain. Just take a minute a sit in a down, take a few deep breaths. Venezky doesn’t advocate that you to be a full yogi, cross legged and Zen but letting your body calm before you start on that project, go into that meeting or have that difficult conversation is the best way to help you concentrate.
- Unplug from technology for 30 minutes – Most people these days walk around with their phone as an extension of their arms. 87% of mobile phone users claim that could not go a day without their device (Aaron Smith) and then has the knock on effect of always being contactable and distractible. You cannot focus when you phone or emails are constantly interrupting your flow.
- Grab some coffee – the caffeine in coffee acts as a mild simulant to the CNS and studies have shown that caffeine can help to improve mental performance especially alertness, attention and concentration. Some studies suggest that caffeine may enhance memory performance particularly if your task is tedious or involved repetitive processes.
- Check the thermostat – We all know how uncomfortable it can be to be working in an environment which is easier too hot or too cold. Especially living in Dubai (during the summer months) temperature regulation is a constant battle but it can be achieved. Studies have found that workers are most productive and make fewer mistakes in and environment where the temperature is between 20 degrees and 25 degrees.
- Take short breaks – I know taking breaks can be difficult! You are busy and you probably have a to –do the length of your arm but sometimes we have to do things which seem counter intuitive to produce better results. Studies suggest that participants performed better on a 50 minute task if they were given a short break versus the control group who worked for 50 minutes straight. Why don’t you try setting an alarm and take a 2 min break every 30mins?