There is one thing that big tasks, deadlines, exams and like circumstances have in common – the need for perfect concentration. Maximum clarity for hours is just not negotiable when a deadline is looming. However, a lot of times, it’s just not easy to achieve a sustained sense of focus due to the sheer number of distractions around us. For example, it is estimated that it takes about 25 minutes to concentrate, yet office workers are interrupted every 11 minutes, while on the whole, Americans contend with 34 gigabytes of information and 100,500 words every day! It is against this backdrop that this post explores hacks, both short-term and long-term, for enhancing and sustaining a sense of focus and avoid sensory overload.
Duh! This sounds so counter-intuitive, but yes, we forget so many times to remove distractions or simply underrate how many distractions we have around and how much they affect our concentration. Even more, distractions may be both physical (like a television playing in the background, Facebook feed notifications on your phone and your co-worker’s smelling food) or internal (like nervousness, fatigue, fear and sadness).
Yet, eliminating distractions is not always easy today, especially if the cause is an uncooperative co-worker. To eliminate physical distractions, you can reserve a certain time and place where you will be left alone. These include the library, a private room in your house and a coffee shop. While you are working, ensure your phone is on airplane mode, your computer has all notifications disabled, and you clearly inform coworkers or family that you are not to be disturbed. To eliminate internal distractions, be well-rested before attempting to start. Also, be positive and willfully avoid disrupting feelings and thoughts.
Make Your Work Environment Comfortable
First, check if your work-space is ergonomic. Make sure your desk and chair are at a comfortable height so you don’t strain your back. Often a simple thing such as a small cushion or a rolled-up towel to support your lower back is enough to fend off that back soreness interrupting your workflow.
Adjust the position of your computer and any other work tools you use. The optimal set-up for your desk space includes your monitor being at arm’s lengths away from your eyes and your wrists and hands on the keyboard straight at or below elbows level.
Write Out Key Important Tasks Every Hour
One of the best ways to keep your brain focused is to write out the tasks that you want to accomplish within an hour and then time yourself to complete it within the specified period. By writing out your key tasks each hour and timing yourself, you can focus on what is most important and infuse it with a sense of exigency.
Break Your Tasks Up into Smaller Goals
Instead of focusing on your big, long term goals, start setting small daily goals. By doing this, you can focus solely on what you have to do in a day, instead of the sometimes-frightening gargantuan task as a whole. Achieving small daily goals will wire your brain for success and trigger the reward mechanism, releasing dopamine when you accomplish your goal. This will help you stay more focused and increase the odds of you achieving tomorrow’s goal.
Use Essential Oils with Nootropic Properties
Nootropics are substances that increase cognitive abilities, and essential oils are have known nootropic properties which stimulate the brain almost immediately, resulting in better focus, less stress and an upbeat mood. One very good essential oil is doTerra’s InTune® Focus Blend. It is made of Patchouli Leaf, Frankincense Resin, Lime Peel, Ylang Ylang Flower essential oils, amongst others. Frankincense has been used for centuries for improving focus and distractions while boosting concentration, same with the others too. By applying it somewhere you can smell it, even at the back of your hand, it will increase your cognitive abilities and also improve your focus.
While this post has mostly concentrated on the quick things to do to ensure maximum focus short-term, there are more things that could be done long-term will aid concentration in the long run. Starting each morning with exercise is one as it is one of the most important things that you can do for your brain and your overall well-being. It does not have to be a full-blown, get ripped regime – walking every morning is an exercise too.
Another important point is to get enough sleep because nothing ruins your focus more than consistent sleep deprivation. 7 hours of high-quality sleep per night minimum is tonic for the soul. Also, eating good fats like nuts, avocados, eggs, and coconut oil in your diet will improve your cognitive function and help your brain run more smoothly. After all, the human brain is made up of roughly 60% fat.
Finally, I found that eating in the morning makes me feel drowsy and muddles my concentration, so what I do is what is popularly known as Intermittent Fasting (IF). For 16 hours out of the day, all you have to do is fast completely and then consume all of your calories in an 8-hour window. It is tremendously easy and incredibly beneficial. Outside of the benefits to your metabolism and fat loss goals, IF actually helps you to have more focus in the morning because your body is not wasting precious energy digesting foods. Instead, it can allocate all of those resources to helping you concentrate on the task at hand.
In conclusion, mastering your focus is not an easy task. It takes commitment and making efforts towards that commitment to achieve a sustained sense of focus to enable you to complete your task. Without you making these efforts, even tips can only do so much. We hope the many rewards will galvanize you to make efforts and achieve your goals.