What is the focus? 7 practical solutions that increase concentration
We all want to be the best at what we do and perform at the highest level. But there are always factors such as thoughts, various feelings, and disturbing sounds that do not allow us to focus on our work. Sometimes, to increase concentration, we resort to drugs and treatment methods. You should know that concentration at work is a skill that can be achieved with practice. This article briefly explains what concentration is and the best ways to increase concentration.
Have you ever noticed how good you feel when you are immersed in doing something? In this case, you will achieve real productivity and refrain from entertaining yourself with useless and time-consuming tasks. You feel that you are very purposeful and do not understand the passage of time. It doesn’t matter if you call this state flow or being mesmerized and immersed in work; in any case, you feel excited during these times.
According to David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work, we only focus on our work for 6 hours a week. In addition, rock studies have shown that 90% of people are most productive and productive when they are out of the office, and people are most focused in the morning or late at night, and This is precisely the opposite of what work programs dictate to us!
What is concentration, and how can it be strengthened?
Focusing means that a person can align his attention and will and control his attention. Concentration is the ability to focus the mind on a subject, object, or thought and expel all irrelevant thoughts, ideas, feelings, and emotions from the mind. Focus means doing only one thing at a time instead of jumping from one branch to another and losing attention, time, and energy.
During concentration, only “one thought” occupies one’s mind, and all the mind’s energy is focused on this single thought.
Of course, we need the training to acquire the ability to command the mind and control concentration and attention. Most people cannot control their attention and focus only on one subject. They cannot command their mind to focus on something whenever they want.
Focusing on the mind is not uncommon and happens almost every day to everyone, but this focus is an unconscious and uncontrolled ability. For example, have you noticed that children do not hear your voice while playing? They get so engrossed in the game that they don’t pay attention to anything else. Or when you are reading a fascinating book, you don’t hear the voices of the people around you. When you write an important letter, watch a movie or a sports match, play chess, and generally, when you are busy doing something you love and find interesting or enjoyable, you ignore your surroundings. You don’t feel the passage of time.
These examples show that it is possible to “focus attention.” Still, it differs from accurate concentration because it is a conscious and deliberate process, and you can turn your mind off for a certain amount of time (not just a few seconds) whenever you want. Focus on whatever you want. Using this ability, you can focus on tasks, jobs, lessons, and even dull and unpleasant things that you must do, in addition to the enjoyable things and your favorite activities.
How do we focus?
Focusing on a task is very similar to “focusing the gaze.” When you decide to focus on something, your brain first receives and processes all the visual information to tell you what to focus on. It’s like seeing a painting or a photograph for the first time. As the image becomes more apparent, your brain goes to the aspect you want attention to (top-down processing). When you achieve this pleasurable kind of focus where you don’t feel the passage of time, your perception of the world around you changes, and you are more able to ignore external stimuli.
How do we lose focus?
Losing focus is a natural, desirable, and evolving process that has developed to keep us safe. Stress loss occurs when the brain sees things you need attention to (bottom-up processing). Evolution has made it so that when you encounter something dangerous or exciting around you, you lose focus and pay attention to that factor.
According to Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of Irvine in California, when you lose focus, it takes up to 25 minutes to refocus on your main task (some studies show a recovery time of 5 minutes, others Another 15 minutes is mentioned). Either way, losing focus comes at a cost. Take office jobs, for example. On average, office workers lose their concentration every 3 to 10 minutes (of course, the numbers are different in different studies). Still, research has yet to definitively show whether the quality of work decreases with more interruptions.
You might think that most of the factors that cause the loss of concentration are external factors such as colleagues, phone calls, or emails. Still, according to the research conducted by Gloria Mark, in about 44% of cases, we cause a loss of concentration!
The human mind can focus on any task for up to 2 hours (of course, after this time, it needs 20-30 minutes of rest to recover its strength); why don’t we use this potential?
Learn to stay focused.
No one can increase their focus by magic. Increasing concentration requires a lot of practice and one of the most challenging types of effort, mindfulness. Of course, there are also tips and methods that you can use to increase your concentration. Here are some techniques to get you closer to that blissful state of effortless productivity.
1. Avoid doing multiple tasks at the same time
Doing several things at the same time has made our brain used to not being able to focus. In a study conducted at Stanford University, one group performed a large number of tasks, and another group performed a small number of functions simultaneously. It was found that maintaining focus was more difficult for the first group.
In a work culture where “multitasking” is still considered a good trait, multitasking makes us feel like we’ve achieved more than we are. In addition, it has been shown in a study that doing several things at the same time makes us feel good. According to David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute, multitasking lowers our IQ and causes us to make mistakes and overlook details.
Steve Jobs says:
“People think that focus means saying yes to something you need to focus on, but that’s not what focus means! Focus means saying no to a hundred other good ideas out there. You have to choose carefully.”
Jobs refers to Apple becoming a successful company by focusing on a few specific products and their tasks. To achieve focus, you must say no to multitasking and all the other stimuli that compete for your attention. These triggers are your email inbox, Twitter feed, or conversations with colleagues.
2. Stop external stimuli
Look at the photo above. Joshua Foer used those tools when he won America’s Best Memory Contest. These devices block out external stimuli and allow your brain to focus. You can also use this type of equipment at your workplace (of course, if you don’t care about the surprised looks of your colleagues) or create an environment where external stimuli will not disturb you. For this purpose, you can use a silent phone, turn off desktop notifications, set hours to relax and focus on work (for example, Tuesdays from 10:00 to 14:00) or work from home one day of the week.
3. Try the Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique can be a way to train your brain to focus, just like you train your muscles.
To perform the Pomodoro technique, you must focus on a task for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. For every four 25-minute periods, consider a more extended rest period of 20-30 minutes. If it is hard to concentrate fully on a task for 25 minutes, you can start with 15 minutes and then gradually increase this time. In the end, you will reach a place where you will not even notice that these 25 minutes have passed!
Meditation is like exercising the muscles of the mind to maintain concentration and helps you to have a strong will. You don’t have to sit still for hours to meditate, especially if you’re starting. It is enough to close your eyes, imagine yourself eating an apple, and focus on the sensations you get when biting it. Doing this lets you focus on one thing for 10 minutes.
5. Put away the technology
One of the fundamental reasons for our need for more focus is technology. When faced with seemingly equally essential tasks, the brain chooses the more straightforward task, and technology is almost always simpler. Even if you can’t give up technology because of your job, try to set limits for yourself. Use apps that reduce the impact of your online life.
6. Do important things
Dwight D. Eisenhower says:
“What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.”
We tend to focus on immediate tasks and need more time to focus on those that matter. Doing such useless and time-consuming tasks means putting ourselves in a difficult situation; we only act based on the list of functions we have set for ourselves, and we ignore the importance of the tasks. The meaningful things that lead to our achievements are the essential things. According to the Eisenhower matrix, try to do important but non-urgent tasks as much as possible.
7. Find your motivation or the important “why.”
One of the reasons why we cannot focus on something is the vagueness of motivation; We don’t know “why” we do what we do. Sometimes this lack of motivation means that you need help understanding why doing something helps to achieve a goal, and sometimes you don’t know why you are trying to accomplish a goal. When the motivation is clear, the attitude will also change, and the way of doing the work will change. When you are genuinely passionate about what you are doing, it will be much easier to focus on it.