11 Ways To Train Your Brain To Focus Better
How to increase concentration is a popular question, especially for those who tend to get distracted and procrastinate. Here’s what you need to know about how to improve concentration through a few simple tricks!
According to a 2016 study published in Nature, a state of focus and unfocus are required for the brain to work optimally. It means that when you want to have better focus in your daily life, there also needs to be a certain time for your brain to unfocus too. Many people wonder how to increase concentration without understanding what they’re going through to begin with.
Enhancing focus can ensure you are more productive and accomplish tasks faster than average. Many people struggle with concentration and focus, and you might have heard of the misconception that these days the attention span of a human is worse than a goldfish’s. However, it is true that it can take more than 20 minutes for you to regain your focus once you’ve become distracted.
The pandemic and the shift to online systems have triggered a lapse in concentration and focus for many. The prevalence of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) globally has been estimated by a 2021 study published in the National Library of Medicine (USA) to be 2.58 per cent for adults, roughly 139 million adults. The slight increase in the prevalence of ADHD combined with worsening attention spans makes it necessary to train your brain when possible.
Through some simple exercises and habits, you can equip your brain to focus better, and you’ll be able to achieve more with your day. Here is how to train your brain for better focus.
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What is Concentration?
Before getting started on improving your concentration, it’s important to understand the meaning of focus. Focus and concentration are used interchangeably to refer to attention. Attention span is the amount of time you usually spend concentrating on the task at hand before you become distracted or move on to something else. While there has been a lot of debate about how long an average individual’s attention span is, there is no conclusive evidence pointing towards how many seconds an individual can pay attention to any task.
However, when you feel like you’re losing your focus and concentration while doing tasks throughout the day, that can be concerning. Not being able to concentrate during your day can lead to a lot of lost productivity, and you might start feeling frustrated by the end of the day.
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Why Do You Lack Concentration?
While not being focused on the task at hand might not be a big deal if it’s a one-time thing, if it starts happening on a regular basis, you could end up hurting your professional and personal life. Losing concentration constantly can also point to ADHD or a nutritional deficiency, among other things. But your lack of concentration doesn’t always have to point to a medical emergency. You might suffer from the following problems if you are having concentration problems:
- Can’t sit still for extended periods
- Lack of focus when performing complicated tasks
- Difficulty in making decisions quickly
- Can’t think clearly all the time
- Forgetfulness when trying to remember where you’ve placed things
- Lacking mental energy to concentrate
- Making careless mistakes
It might be that you’re finding it hard to concentrate at specific times during the day, like after mealtimes. Digesting food with various sugars can be draining for your body, which can make it harder to concentrate. If you can pinpoint the times when you have trouble concentrating, you might be able to resolve it quickly.
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How to Increase Concentration?
If you’re wondering how to focus or how to increase concentration, there are several ways you can go about it. Whether you’re looking for how to concentrate on studies for long hours or how to increase concentration power, here are some tactics to apply:
1. Traditional Brain Training
Playing specific games can help enhance concentration, both for children and older adults. From crossword puzzles to solving jigsaws, enhancing your concentration certainly doesn’t have to be boring. A 2015 study published in the National Library of Medicine shows that spending up to 15 minutes a day, five days a week, doing various brain training activities can help improve concentration.
Brain (cognitive) training can ensure you have better focus and remain clear-headed throughout the day. Some activities you can try out are:
- Play card games like solitaire, poker, and bridge
- Learn new vocabulary (think about learning one new word every day)
- Learn a new skill (using new software, driving)
- Think about learning a new language
- Try your hand at puzzles, crosswords, chess, and word searches
2. Play Games
While many people have been taught that video games can be detrimental to attention and focus, that might actually not be the entire truth. A 2018 study published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience reveals that brain activity changes while playing video hames that improves the attention span.
The researchers at the University of Arkansas had the participants play video games for an hour every day for a short period. They found that gaming can help visual selective attention, which is your ability to concentrate on the task at hand while ignoring distractions. But it would be best not to opt for video games that can get violent and opt for interactive games that keep you engaged for a short time.
3. Aim for Better Sleep
A 2017 study published in Plos One reveals the effects of sleep deprivation on attention spans and focus. Being deprived of sleep can increase distractibility and lessen attention on even simple tasks. Sleep deprivation for a longer period can lead to shorter attention spans, mood changes, and sluggish performance throughout the day.
Getting better sleep is the first step you must take to enhance your focus. Ensuring you have a decent amount of sleep (6 to 8 hours) regularly is crucial. While it might not matter much if your sleep is disrupted for a day or two, it can worsen your lifestyle and impact your health negatively if it becomes a regular habit.
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Many have claimed that meditation is key to improving attention and focus, especially when you want long-term results. A 2018 study published in Frontiers shows that brief mindfulness can improve attention in beginners. Mindful meditation has been shown to improve focus and attention since your mind remains clearer during the day.
When you’re looking to improve your focus but don’t have the time to spend an hour meditating, it might be helpful to opt for short-term meditation exercises. Here are some you can try:
Guided Meditation with Michele Paradise
A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
5. Never Skip Exercising
Research published in Comprehensive Physiology, 2013 reveals the connection between regular physical activity and improved focus and attention span. Fitness, in general, can increase cognitive health for many individuals, and many have found that their focus is better immediately following bouts of exercise.
Activities like running, playing football, and even walking have shown results in improving focus for many individuals. Even walking on a treadmill, according to a 2009 study published in Neuroscience, shows improvement in attention and focus for children. Regardless of your age, it’s clear that exercise can go a long way in increasing your focus.
6. Drink Caffeine
While caffeine has frequently been touted to be bad for you, that’s not necessarily true. Like anything else, overconsuming caffeine can lead to harmful effects, especially when you continue to do it for a long time. However, drinking caffeine will only lead to a short-term boost in focus and attention, as shown by a 2013 study published in the National Library of Medicine.
You might want to consider drinking a cup of green tea or coffee next time you feel your focus slipping. However, it’s important to ensure you’re not overdoing it, so drink in moderation and monitor your caffeine intake throughout the day.
7. Switch Up Your Diet
Various studies over the years have established the fact that diet can have an important part to play in your mood, cognitive functions, and more. Avoiding processed foods, high sugar foods like carbonated drinks, and greasy foods are crucial to ensure that you’re able to concentrate throughout the day.
Consuming ‘brain foods’ can help you boost your attention span and focus almost immediately. Consume the following foods for improvement in long-term concentration:
- Citrus fruits like oranges: A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that consuming orange juice has cognitive benefits like improving focus and attention. It improves blood flow to the brain and improves performance.
- Dark chocolate: Cocoa products like dark chocolate are known to contain many flavonoids. Flavonoids are known to improve brain health, as shown by a 2012 study published in the National Library of Medicine.
- Eggs: These are the perfect all-rounder food to eat, whether you’re looking for protein, fats, or improving memory and concentration. Vitamin B12, choline, and selenium are known to improve brain function, and all of these are present in high quantities in eggs. A 2011 study published in Neurology shows the relation between vitamin B12 levels and improved cognitive functions.
- Fish: Foods high in Omega-3 fats are generally known to improve brain health. A 2019 study published in the journal Neurology shows the relationship between increased fish consumption and increasing school performance due to better attention spans.
- Different types of nuts: A 2017 study published in the FASEB Journal shows that consuming nuts regularly increases brainwave function. Better brainwave function is related to cognition, memory, and learning, leading to better attention and concentration.
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8. Don’t Multitask
Many people who are adept multitaskers wear it as a badge of honour, but it may not be as good as you think it is. Multitasking can divide your attention in multiple directions, and you might even do it without knowing you’re doing it. If you’re washing dishes while speaking to someone, that can be considered multitasking as well.
While it might seem like a good thing that you’re achieving multiple tasks simultaneously, it can actually be detrimental. A 2019 study published in the National Library of Medicine (USA) shows that there are many costs of multitasking since the brain isn’t equipped to deal with many tasks at once. Individuals can’t give their full attention to one task, and that can result in an attention deficit when trying to handle one task at a time. You should be mindful of how much you are engaging in multitasking and whether it’s leading to worsening concentration and focus for you.
9. Listen to Music
Listening to music has been shown to improve concentration, but that’s not true for everyone. A 2016 study published in the Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Science shows that listening to soft music (like instrumental or classical songs) has higher success rates of correct answers in students than any other type of music.
Many individuals find that listening to music can also help them remain calm and focused on what they’re doing. However, the type of music you listen to aids in increasing concentration can depend on you. Try listening to soft and mellow music like instrumental, classical, and jazz and see if it works out for you.
It’s crucial that you keep the music volume low enough that you can retain your attention and concentration without being affected by the music. Avoid listening to music you love or hate since that can arouse emotions that won’t be conducive to your focus and attention.
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10. Try Targeted Concentration Workouts
When you’re having a lot of trouble focusing, and you’re in a time crunch, it might be ideal to try a workout meant to jog your focus. According to a 2008 University of Irvine study, it can take up to 23 minutes to get back to what you’re doing after you’ve been distracted.
Here are some things you can do to redirect your focus and attention:
- Create a ‘not to do’ list that specifies activities or things you shouldn’t be doing when working, like surfing the net, watching an episode of your favourite show, etc.
- According to The Power of Concentration by Theron Q. Dumont, sitting still in a chair for fifteen minutes can also clear your head and reorient your attention.
- Doodle for 15 minutes to let pent-up stress and energy out of your head and onto paper. It can clear your head and enable you to focus better.
Unlock Max Focus
When you’re wondering how to improve concentration in your daily life, taking some of these hacks will definitely help. Lack of concentration is nothing to push aside, as the sooner you get to resolving the problem, the more productive you will be. Improve your mind concentration with these tips and see the results for yourself!
Q: What causes you to lose your focus?
A: Loss of focus can be due to fatigue, sleep deprivation, ADHD or even habitual. If you tend to procrastinate when important tasks are at hand, your brain may naturally tend to lose focus.
Q: How can I increase my concentration and focus quickly?
A: Some methods you can try to regain focus are:
- Trying games that utilise your mind like puzzles, crosswords and card games (solitaire)
- Going through a concentration workout (doodling for fifteen minutes)
- Listen to calming music
- Aiming for at least six to eight hours to sleep regularly
- Including brain foods into your diet like oranges, dark chocolate and eggs
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