Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. This is true for adults as well as children. Studies show that by the time a child enters school, their attention span is already at an all-time low. And, this lack of attention span seems to continue on into adulthood. Adults today can’t remember things for very long. They can’t focus on one thing for more than a few minutes without becoming distracted by something else.
This is particularly true when they do boring jobs like sitting at a computer all day or working on a project that requires them to concentrate. Studies show that adults today have the attention span of a child who is four years old! (Or, at least, the attention span of a child who has not been well-nurtured and well-socialized.) This lack of attention span affects everyone.
The main key area for improvement is encouraging to be physically active. This will give more energy, giving more “mental horsepower” to deal with all the other demands on their attention span. Also, adults need to get enough sleep. Adults who get too little sleep have a hard time focusing and paying attention. This makes them more susceptible to becoming distracted by all those dings-ding-dings as their brain tries to remember what it was they were supposed to focus on in the first place. Adults also need to eat regular meals, get plenty of sunshine and manage their stress. Combining all these factors makes it much more likely that your adult or child will have a longer attention span. But don’t expect miracles. Even if all these factors are present, there is still no guarantee that your child or adult will have a long attention span. It is a combination of genetics and environment that determines whether someone has a long or short attention span. So, what can you do? Let’s look at each direction in detail.
1. Remove Distractions
Yes, this really is true. The number one distraction for most people is the telephone. If possible, don’t allow your child or loved one to have a cell phone. If this is not possible, make sure they use it only in an emergency. And even in an emergency, only use it as a last resort. Forcing them to use a cell phone as a primary means of communication for any length of time will almost certainly cause their attention span to deteriorate. And, this is not just true for children. Studies show that even adults lose focus when they have to make or receive a telephone call. If you must allow them to use the telephone, make sure they use a headset. And, if possible, never allow them to use the telephone during the times you are trying to teach them something. Another big source of distraction is the TV and other electronic media. Personally, I think it is safe to say that most people who grew up after the first couple of decades of the 21st century have seriously diminished attention spans. This is particularly true of younger people. But even if this is not true in your area, in my opinion, most people in general (including young people) have very short attention spans.
2. Focus And Re-Focus
One of the keys to having a long attention span is to be able to re-focus quickly. This is especially important when your child or loved one is struggling to learn something new. If possible, remove all sources of distraction in the room where you are teaching. If this is not possible, at least turn down the volume on the TV or other electronic media. If you do this, they will be less likely to hear or see something which captures their attention and holds it until you release it. And finally, if all else fails, simply give them a task that requires them to pay attention to you for a short period of time and then tell them to close their eyes and take a nap for a few minutes. Then, wake them up and give them another task that requires them to pay attention to you for a short period of time and then tell them to close their eyes and take a nap for a few minutes. And repeat this process over and over until they get it right. This technique works like crazy!
3. Prepare A Distraction-Free Environment
The more you can do to create a distraction-free environment when you are teaching someone, the more likely they are to learn and retain what you are trying to teach. One of the biggest sources of distraction in the average home or classroom is the TV or other electronic media. If at all possible, turn off or remove all TVs, videos, radios, MP3 players, cell phones, and other electronic media from the room. Another big source of distraction is people talking. If at all possible, have the room as silent as possible. If this is not possible, at least turn down the level of conversational volume as much as possible. This will allow you to project your voice and get your message across with less interference from background noise. And finally, if all else fails, simply speak slowly and clearly and enunciate every word. This will dramatically increase the perceived value of what you are saying by the listener and dramatically decrease the chance they will be distracted by outside stimuli. Use Short, Simple Sentences And Paragraphs With Caution! Many people have a difficult time learning anything when there is a lot of chaos in their lives. They need things to be a little bit calm and quiet before they can learn anything new. As you know, I always tell people to read one paragraph out loud, three times, before they attempt to read it themselves.
4. Fix A Routine To Follow For Better Concentration
Routine is important for everyone’s concentration. It does not matter if you are an adult learning something new like driver’s ed or your teenager studying for a big test. Routines give your mind something predictable to focus on. And the more predictable, the better. If you tend to get distracted easily, try to create a routine for yourself, even simply in a mental way. Maybe you decide to read or listen to a specific podcast or audiobook every time you want to study for a while. Or perhaps you write out the alphabet every time you study and then randomly pick words beginning with that letter each time you learn something new. Whatever works for you. The point is to create a routine and then make sure your routine includes your studies. This will dramatically increase your chance of success. If you have children, this technique will work even better because it will give them something they can do over and over again, which will give their brains a chance to “fuse” together, creating a much stronger neural pathway in their minds. It also works well if you are trying to memorize something for an exam.
5. Identify Your Stressors
If you are like most people, certain things in your life tend to cause you stress. These might be big or small things. Sometimes the little things are the biggest problems in our lives. For example, many people get stressed out when they have to clean their house. However, if you ask most people to identify the one thing in their lives that causes them the most stress, they will say their home is usually right at the top of the list. But what most people fail to realize is cleaning their house is only a tiny part of the stress they experience when it comes to maintaining a clean, orderly home. There is the matter of keeping everything organized, dealing with contractors and trying to keep them from stealing from you, getting rid of clutter, making sure it is gone forever, and so on. So, the first thing you should do if you want to reduce the amount of stress in your life significantly is to make a list of all the things (big or small) in your life that cause you stress. And then, do your best to eliminate those items from your life.
6. Take A Digital Sabbath without Social Media
In this day and age, it is impossible to remove yourself from the stresses of the world. That’s just a fact. But you can minimize them, and that is the goal here. If you try this technique for a week, you will be astonished at how much more relaxed you will feel. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, and plain “feel” better. So, the first thing we are going to do to try and eliminate as much stress as possible from our lives is to take a “Digital Sabbath.” On that day, we will turn off our cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et cetera. We are going to put those apps on “Airplane Mode” so they can’t disturb us. And we are going to use the time during our “Sabbath” to get as much rest as possible. Please start With The Small Things First. We usually don’t realize it, but the little things in life add up.
7. Limit Social Media Usage And Discussions
Social media has become an integral part of our lives. Many of us check it several times every day. We post what we’re eating for lunch, update our statuses with what we are doing in the morning and evening, and so on. Unfortunately, none of this is helpful. None of it contributes to your quality of life in any way whatsoever. All it does is distract you from the essential things in your life. And when you are stressed out, being distracted is the last thing you need. So, the first step toward eliminating a lot of stress in your life is limiting your social media usage. That doesn’t mean you have to give up all forms of socializing; it just means you should avoid allowing social media to become a “part” of your life. It would be best to use it to “check in” with friends and family periodically, but not as a daily habit. You will automatically find the time to get the most out of those apps by limiting your usage.
8. Stay Hydrated
You should drink at least six glasses of water per day. If you exercise, you should drink even more. Water is the elixir of elixirs. It flushes toxins out of your body, provides an environment for all your electrolytes to unclamp and restore proper fluid balance. It keeps you hydrated so your metabolic processes can run at peak efficiency, and quenches your thirst, so you don’t have to drink as many sugary or caffeinated beverages. If you want to detoxify your body and flush out all the junk accumulated over a long period, you should try to drink only water for seven to ten days. This will cause your body to start producing a “chemical flushing” action in your urine to help get rid of the toxins. After this short time, you may want to add some herbal tea to your daily routine to help promote healthy bowel movements.
9. Drink Coffee
Coffee has various health benefits, but one of the biggest is reducing anxiety and increasing concentration. If you are feeling stressed out, drinking more coffee will help take the edge off. Just make sure you are getting the right kind of coffee for your needs. Most people buy coffee “beans,” and they brew their own. But there are many coffee “lurkers” who buy pre-ground coffee and then add water to it. This is a terrible idea. The oils in the beans leach out into the water and cause an upset stomach or even diarrhea. Buy yourself an excellent fresh espresso maker (it should come with all the parts), and then go and get an espresso shot made for you. Then drink the “espresso”. You’ll find this process very satisfying because you are drinking coffee the “right” way.
10. Drink Tea
Tea has similar benefits to coffee, but none of them are nearly as extreme. Some people can have up to five cups of coffee a day and be perfectly healthy. Still, if you are prone to anxiety attacks or have other mental or emotional problems, you should avoid coffee altogether. But if you are “normal”, you should drink more tea than coffee. Start with just one cup a day and see how you feel after a week. You might decide you like it and want to increase your intake, but don’t overdo it. Too much caffeine is extremely dangerous to your health and can cause insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, and diarrhea. These are the “bad effects”, but there are also “good effects”. Caffeine gives you a quick pick-me-up and enhances your concentration and energy levels. So, if you are stressed out, drinking more tea will provide you with a “mental pick-me-up” and help restore your peace of mind.
11. Spend Time In Nature
This is possibly an essential thing you can do for yourself. Spend time in a sunny park, by the ocean, in the woods, or wherever you feel peaceful. If you have a backyard, plant some flowers or take a walk among the flowers you’ve grown. Just spend time outside doing simple things that calm you down and take your mind off your worries. The fresh air, sunshine, and nature will have a stimulating effect on you and lift your spirits. Breathe Deeply.
As you know, I’m a big fan of deep breathing exercises. They are one of the best “band-aids” you can use to deal with minor stressors. When you are stressed out, close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly for a few moments. Do this whenever you notice you are starting to get tense. It won’t cure stress, but it will provide you with a bit of a “rest and recovery” period.
12. Take Care Of Your Body
Your body is a representation of your inner self. If you are tired and run down, so will be your relationships and your business. You must take care of yourself physically if you expect to have any energy or perform at a high level. Eat five or six small eats a day instead of three or four big ones. This will help keep your blood sugar level constant and prevent sluggishness and fatigue. Drink more water than coffee or tea. Stay off from soft drinks, alcohol, and cigarettes. Get enough sleep each night. Go to bed at the exact moment every night and get up at the same time every morning. This will give your body time to improve from the previous day and put you into a routine that is helpful to good health. Take regular exercise. This will boost your energy levels, strengthen your muscles, increase metabolism, and flush out toxins.
13. Exercise For 30 Minutes Daily
Exercise Will Boost Your Confidence. You will feel a sense of calm and peace after some physical exercise. It doesn’t matter what kind; jogging, cycling, playing basketball, tennis, or doing push-ups; just getting your body moving in some way will positively affect your psyche. Exercise releases endorphins which are natural painkillers in your brain and body that create a sense of euphoria and well-being. The more you do it. The more your body will crave it and reap more benefits. Start slowly. Warm-up first. Walk for five minutes at a time, three times a week. After that, walk for 10-minutes at a time, three times a week. Next, walk for 15-minutes at a time, three times a week. Gradually work your way up to a 30-minute walk six days a week. If you are walking, you are getting moving, and that is the first step to improving your health. You’ll be surprised how good this will make you feel.
14. Exercises You Can Do To Improve Attention Span
1. Jump Rope – For Two Minutes Daily
2. Play Ping Pong – With One Hand
3. Do The Mashed Potato Challenge – From Chair
4. Ride A Bike For 20 Miles At A Time
5. Throw A Frisbee – As Far As You Can
6. Run Up And Down The Stairs As Fast As You Can
7. Play Four Square With Your Foot – From Your Bed
8. Sit-Ups – Without Resting On Your Hands
9. Do The Million Walk – From Your Bed
10. Do 30 Push Ups In 30 Seconds
11. Do 10 Jump Rope Sets
12. Do 30 Squats With Your Hands Prone On The Ground
13. Do 50 Jump Rope Clicks
14. Do 100 Forward Rolls
15. Do 50 Backward Rolls
16. Do 50 Sit Ups In 30 Seconds
17. Make 50 Lunges With Your Right Leg
15. Ask Others To Help Motivate You
One of the most excellent ways to stay motivated is to have someone else hold you accountable. Find someone who will say, “Hey Bob, I’m gonna walk with you for a half-hour three times this week.” Find someone who will say, “Hey David, I’m gonna ride my bike with you 20 miles one day next week.” Find someone who will say, “Hey Alex, I’m gonna play four square with you tomorrow after work.” Motivation does not come from inside you. It comes from outside you. When you give it an external form, it becomes more powerful. So find someone (or many someones) to help you, and your body will respond in kind.
16. Listen To Classical Music
This has been proven time and again. Studies show people who listen to classical music tend to exercise longer, at a higher intensity, and gain better results than those who don’t. Why is this? Simply because classical music is one of the best stress relievers available. If you’re feeling stressed out or tense, listening to some classical music will help you release that tension and become more relaxed. A little bit of classical music goes a long way. As little as 40 minutes per day can make a difference. A study attended at the University of Georgia found that students who listened to classical music for three hours per week while they studied performed better on tests than students who didn’t listen to any music. Give it a try. You’ll be amazed at how great it works.
17. Set Up A Reward System
One of the most influential things you can do for yourself is set up a reward system. If you are going to make a real effort, give yourself a “motivator” in the form of a reward. Studies show that people who have been given the right kind of motivation tend to keep doing what they were doing even when it wasn’t fun. For example, let’s say you want to run a 10-mile race. If you tell yourself you will buy yourself a new shirt to finish the race, you will probably not even give the race a shot.
On the other hand, if you tell yourself you will buy yourself the shirt after you cross the line and the race is over, you will most likely give the race a try. Find something you enjoy that is also good for you (like eating fruit or drinking milk) and reward yourself every time you meet a goal. This will keep you going when the going gets tough. And changing a bad habit is much more likely to succeed if you can attach a “reward” to not doing the behavior in the first place. Incentives work best when they are small, reasonable, and immediate.
One of the greatest ways to stay motivated is to have some “reward system” in place. I call it the “three S’s” of reward systems. They are:
S – Something that is SWEET to you and yours if you do what you’ve wanted to do. (Like finishing a marathon.)
S – Something SEEN by you and yours if you do what you’ve wanted to do. (Like getting a pat on the back from your spouse for working out three times per week.)
S – Something that is SOUND by you and yours if you do what you’ve wanted to do. (Like hearing the sounds of your favorite symphony while you work out.)
These are the “ingredients” of a robust reward system. And you can use them individually or all together. But whatever you do, don’t leave these “ingredients” out. Make sure you include at least one of these “S’s” in every reward system you create.
18. Divide Bigger Tasks Into Smaller Tasks
And Smaller Tasks Into Even Smaller Tasks: No matter how big or small the task before, you break it down into smaller, manageable pieces. When you do this, your mind will start to work on several levels at once. This is a handy way to think. When I am struggling to meet a goal, the first thing I do is break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Instead of saying I am going to run a marathon in one day, I say I will run three miles today. That seems like a lot, but it’s not if you do it three times per week. And once you get started, the momentum you create will carry over to more significant tasks with ease.
By breaking down your goal in this manner, you will be forced to think about it in a multi-level way. And this will give you a chance to experience “mind expansion,” which is very necessary if you ever hope to achieve any goal whatsoever. This way, you won’t feel overwhelmed by the task at hand and will have a much better chance of actually accomplishing what you set out to do. Next, identify the “big rocks” that need to be moved to achieve your goal. Finally, decide what you will do (and have someone else do) to move those big rocks. The 80/20 Principle Most likely, your efforts will be most productive if you focus your energy on the “20% effort” that will yield the highest results. Leave the rest (the 80%) to take care of itself.
19. Take Many Small Steps
The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. When you break down your goal into smaller chunks and then add up all those little “chunks” of work, you will find yourself much closer to the finish line than you would have otherwise. By breaking down your task, you will see it differently and thus have a much easier time accomplishing it. In truth, this is how every great accomplishment was created in the first place. You know, when Thomas Edison was trying to invent the light bulb, he had hundreds of other things to think about. However, once he got to that stage, he would focus on that one specific task until he “got it right.” Then, once he had “it” (the invention of the light bulb) down pat, he would move on to something else. He didn’t sit there twiddling his thumbs, waiting for inspiration. No, Sir! Instead, he kept creating inventions at the rate of two or three per day. This way of thinking also works very well when you are trying to achieve a goal.
Instead Of One Big Leap: You see, your mind becomes attached to the “Jogger’s High” of crossing the finish line. Your brain loves to get it right, even if it takes a little longer. But the “Marathoner’s High” of taking many small steps instead of one giant leap is much more enjoyable for your brain. And, the further you get into a project, the more important this becomes. You know, when you run a race, you train for the race. This is called “doing the work.” In other words, you create the masterpiece, and then you keep developing it until it is finished. This way, your masterpiece will be done “right” (i.e., according to your unique style and skill) instead of perfect. And this will give you the sense of accomplishment that comes from crossing the finish line, knowing you have done an excellent job even though it is not quite “perfect.”
20. Maintain A Planner And Work Calendar
I cannot tell you how often people let things slip through the cracks simply because they “forget” or “disconnect” their brains from the task. The way to avoid this is to use a “Planner” to remind you every day of what you need to do and a “Work Calendar” to help you keep track of the days (and hours) you spend on a specific project.
Remember that scene in “The Graduate” where some guy whispers the word “plastics” in Dustin Hoffman’s ear? Remember what happened next? Yes, Mr. Capulets, what happened next is that Dustin Hoffman jumped up and down and shouted, “Plastics! Plastics! Plastics!” He overcame the sense of accomplishment of having said those four simple words and knowing they would change his life. Well, that is the way you should feel every time you sit down to work on a project you have planned. No matter how complicated or how simple it is, the second you begin to create, your mind should be saying: “Yes! Yes! Yes!” And, don’t forget that your body should be saying it, too. That’s because your physical actions will mirror your mental state. If you are calm and collected, your hands will be steady as they create what your mind has envisioned. On the other hand, if you get excited and antsy while working, your hands will be gesticulating wildly as they make what your brain is obsessing about. So, the further you create what you have planned, the more critical it is to keep a “feel” for things.
This is the most crucial suggestion I can make to you. After all, without a plan, what chance do you have? Listen, I don’t care how good you are at improvisation. If you don’t maintain a written plan, you are just winging it. And, as I said earlier, this is a dumb way to create a masterpiece. You see, when you are “off-the-cuff,” you are reacting instead of acting. Instead, you become enslaved to whatever “hits” you have stored up in your brain. And, this takes away your ability to use your unique creativity.
A plan, on the other hand, gives you freedom. It lets you exercise your unique creativity. You see, by making a plan, you are freed up to think about how to accomplish your goal best. And, once you have your goal clearly defined in your mind, the actual physical process of creating the masterpiece becomes much less critical. In other words, once you know what you want to make, the “how” of getting there is almost secondary.
Also, it would help if you kept in mind that a plan is simply a guide. A guideline. Not a straitjacket.
21. Restructure Your Work Day
I want to suggest one small change you make to your routine, which can dramatically affect your output. What I mean is, I’d like to offer you stop working for a while each day at approximately the same time. Why? The answer is simple: You see, by forcing yourself to stop work every day at the same time, you will be forced to prioritize what needs to be done. And, this will result in more efficient use of your time. It’s sort of like getting into a car and immediately driving to the emergency room when you are sick instead of taking the time to determine if treatment for the minor problem is vital. In other words, by stopping working simultaneously every day, you are structuring your day, so you get everything was done that is truly important first. To begin with, I’d like to suggest you make this change once a week for a month. After that, you can decide whether or not it has been worthwhile.
I’m going to make this point two ways. First, most people who suffer from “workaholism” do so because they have no idea of the power of their creativity. And secondly, if you are truly serious about becoming a great, you must learn to love your work. You see, great specialists are not made by working hard. No. They are made by loving what they do and, the more they do it, the better they get at it.
It’s important to understand that the only way to get good at anything is practice. And, the best way to practice is to do as much as possible. In other words, don’t wait for “deadline time.” The very act of waiting for a deadline to begin creating will slow you down considerably. On the other hand, what you are making all day long will speed up your process tremendously. In truth, there is no such thing as “deadline time.” What you create should be done because it needs to be made, not because some outside force (a deadline) says it must be completed.
22. Stop Multitasking
One of the reasons people find it so hard to concentrate is because they are doing it simultaneously. When you watch a ballplayer bat, you don’t pay much attention to what he is doing with his hands. Yet, this seemingly little movement enables him to hit the ball out of the park. Multitasking is like a fat man pretending he can run a mile. In truth, he can run only three steps before he has to sit down and rest. Rest, by the way, is one of the four basic needs of human existence, along with food, water, and air. What does this mean? Put, if you try to do two or more things at once and fail, you will fail at both. And, if you try to do three or more items at once and fall, you will fail at all. So, stop working to do more than one thing at a time and do the one thing you set out to do.
When you try to do two or more tasks at once, your attention is divided. This inhibits your ability to think clearly. And, when you try to do three or more items at once, your brain can’t keep up. It’s like attempting to read a book while listening to a lecture on that same book. The book becomes a blur. The information in the course is essential, but your ability to comprehend and remember it is seriously inhibited by trying to listen and read simultaneously.
A study conducted by the University of Illinois found the average person can juggle eight tasks simultaneously before performance drops off. This is true even if the functions are simple.
The study also proved the more complex the task, the more our ability to juggle diminishes. Therefore, the most efficient thing you can do to improve your concentration is to eliminate as many “distracting activities” as possible from your daily routine. To do this, I’d like you to make the change I described earlier of only working on one project every day. If you have a phone at your desk, turn it off. If you allow people to call you on your office phone, tell them you will not answer, and you will return their call later. Keep a diary of your daily activities and determine whether or not what you are doing is truly important. If it is, great. If it is not, trash it.
23. Track Your Time With Time Tracker
One of the best ways to ensure you are working on the right things is to keep an accurate record of your time. This will help you identify which activities are most distracting to you and which ones you should work on first. It’ll also help you stay focused by giving you instant feedback on how much time you’ve spent on each project during the day. There are several different types of time trackers. The one I use is called “Tmetric”. It’s easy to use and incredibly powerful. One of the best features is that it allows you to see how you spend your time across all projects. This helps you see if there are any patterns and, if there are, it will enable you to re-prioritize. Another nice feature is that it allows you to enter time manually or by using several pre-set time schedules. You can set up a plan to automatically enter times for you each morning or whenever you get started on a new project. This way, you will be able to see at a glance when you are most productive. You should also keep a copy of this book with you at all times. That way, you will always have something to refer back to if you get a momentary lapse in concentration.
24. Work On One Objective At A Time
The first step towards achieving anything worthwhile is to identify exactly what it is you want to achieve. Most people get lost in the details and work on stuff that is peripheral to their primary objective. Have you ever been working on multiple projects simultaneously and found it hard to stay focused? I sure have. It’s one of the reasons I created the “Wheel of Life” metaphor. When you find yourself working on projects which are not essential to your work/life balance, stop immediately and start working on the most critical task. If you don’t do this, you are likely to create more “urgency stress.” This is the “fight or flight” response your body has to situations perceived as dangerous. It’s your body’s way of preparing you to either confront or escape from an immediate threat. Urgency stress is caused by a buildup of anxiety and tension in your body. When you are under a lot of urgency stress, it affects your ability to make good decisions and even causes you to make bad decisions. Wrong choices can lead to feelings of guilt, lower your self-esteem and cause you to lose confidence in your judgment. It also impairs your memory and makes it very difficult for you to concentrate. All of this takes a severe toll on your health.
25. Focus On One Task At A Time
Don’t put yourself through the anxiety of trying to juggle too many balls in the air at one time. It’s much better to do a little less and do it right than to do a lot and do it wrong. Pick one task you know is important and decide to work on that one task until you are finished. Then, move on to the next most important task. If several you would rank in the same category, do the one you feel most passionate about. Passion usually trumps logic every time. By the way, if you want to take your life/work balance to the next level, stop working altogether on all non-essential projects for a period of one to two weeks. Take some time off and recharge your batteries. This will re-center you and put you in a position to make better decisions. Also, you will decrease the buildup of urgency stress in your body by not working for a while. Remember this: The most efficient way to get anything done is to do it in bite-sized chunks, one objective at a time!
26. Take A Short Break Every 50 Minutes
Studies show people who work for longer than 50 minutes without a short break become drowsy and have a much higher rate of making mistakes. Your mental and physical energy levels will drop significantly after just a few hours of continuous focused activity. Studies show your energy levels are at their lowest about 50 minutes after you start working and continue to drop off rapidly until they are at about a 20% lower level than they were at the beginning of your work session. This drop-off in energy is caused by an internal drain on your reserves which must be replenished. You can recover more quickly if you give yourself a short (about 5 to 10 minutes) break every 50 minutes or so. Go for a walk, have a little chat with a friend, take the dog for a run or do whatever else you need to do to give your body and mind a much-needed rest and to restore your energy levels. It also gives your mind a chance to catch up on what you have missed. When you do this, you will be more alert, have more concentration and remember more. And don’t forget to Reward Yourself For Completed Tasks.
27. Work When You’re Most Energetic
You will get the best results from your time and effort when you schedule your work sessions for the times of day when you are at your peak productivity. Studies show people are most creative in the morning and least creative in the afternoon and evening. The midday slump is widespread, and many people find their mental clarity and efficiency drastically drops after lunch. This is true even for people who eat a well-balanced diet and get adequate rest. If you are like most people, your peak performance times are between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. However, there may be times during the week when you are naturally more or less energetic (or less stressed) than usual, and you should take advantage of these times. Try to avoid early morning or late night work if at all possible. These are times when many people experience a sharp decline in energy and are more likely to make careless mistakes.
During your most productive times, put your most essential and highest-priority tasks first. This will give your day an overall upward trajectory. It will also help prevent that sinking feeling you get when you realize you have so much to do that you won’t get it all done.
28. Improve Your Sleep
The typical American adult gets only 6-hours and 47 minutes of sleep per day. That’s less than the 7-hours and 56-minutes recommended by the National Institutes of Health. And 70% of adults say they often feel tired even after 8-hours of sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to poor judgment, decreased immunity, and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes. When you are sleep-deprived, your energy levels decline, and your ability to focus suffers. Research shows people perform worse on cognitive tests when they are sleep-deprived than when they are drunk. Make getting a good night’s sleep a high priority. You will be rewarded with clearer thinking, more patience, and a more positive attitude. It is also an essential key to achieving a more peaceful mind and body.
29. Sleep For 7 To 9 Hours Per Night
To improve your sleep quality, try to go to bed at least 2-hours earlier than you usually do. This will allow your body time to cool down and prepare for sleep slowly. Dim the lights in your bedroom 60-minutes before you turn off the lights in your house. Research shows this will help your body get into the sleep pattern faster. Wear blue-blocking glasses to help prevent stimulating blue light from streaming into your eyes from computer, TV, and cell phone screens. Use the “white-noise” option on your MP3 player or headphones when trying to fall asleep. Make your bedroom a relaxed place where you feel comfortable and calm. Keep it dark, cool, and quiet. Turn off all phones and computers. Create a sleep sanctuary where you will have the most restful and rejuvenating sleep of your life. Avoid caffeine in the evening. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can interfere with sleep. Drink only decaffeinated coffee or tea for 2-hours before going to bed. Also, don’t eat or drink anything for 1-hour before trying to go to sleep.
30. Using Relaxation To Boost Focus
Relaxation is not the same as being unalert or sleepy. Instead, relaxation is a state of mental and physical calmness that allows you to be more effective and productive. Many highly focused, driven people are unable to relax. They get so wound up and stressed out they literally can’t unwind no matter how important the task at hand may be. Research has shown that focused, highly-driven people under chronic stress have a much higher rate of premature death than more laid-back people. Being relaxed also makes it easier to deal with negative or difficult people. Negativity and difficult people drain your energy and increase your stress level. When you are calm and centered, these types of people don’t have as much of an effect on you. Relaxation techniques include deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation, positive self-talk, and just plain old boredom relief. Boredom is the number one reason for stress. To avoid stress and stay focused, try doing something boring like reading a book, jotting down ideas in a notebook, or taking a long, warm bath. Deep breathing is a great way to relax your body and slow your heart rate and breathing to a regular rhythm.
31. Practicing Meditation
Meditation is the practice of concentrating on one object for an extended period. There are many different forms of meditation. Some focus on the breath, some on a mantra (repeating a word or phrase in their mind), and others focus on the present moment. Research has shown that all forms of meditation help people deal with stress and become more focused and less stressed. A recent study showed that experienced meditators have about 40% less cortisol (a stress hormone) in their bloodstream than non-meditators.
Meditation also slows down the physical processes going on in your brain. This allows your brain to work more effectively, which helps you think clearer and make better decisions. And it has many proven benefits, including:
– Improving focus and concentration
– Reducing anxiety and stress
– Enhancing immunity
– Sharpening mental acuity
– And much more
One way to start learning about and experimenting with meditation is to find a local group of people interested in this lifestyle and attend one of their meetings.
32. Meditate For 5 To 10 Minutes Every Day
Even a short period of meditation (5 or 10 minutes) will give your brain and body a break from the continuous demands of everyday life. Over time, you can build up the time you meditate each day until you spend 20 or 30 minutes several times every day. The key is to make the practice a regular part of your daily routine. Start With A Simple Meditation Technique. The first thing you should learn about meditation is that there is no single right way to do it. There are thousands of different techniques and methods. However, most people who meditate do not concentrate on the technique as they focus on the experience. Therefore, when you start, it is best to start by learning about the basic principles behind all forms of meditation and then choose the technique (or techniques) that you feel most drawn to.
33. The Benefits Of Meditation For Focus And Attention
The Benefits Of Meditation For Focus And Attention is undeniable. And as a bonus, it can help you sleep better too. Positive Self-Talk Have you ever heard the saying, “No man is a hero to his valet”? That’s because most people don’t realize that what they say to themselves matters as much (if not more) than what they say to others. The main reason people give for not accomplishing goals is a lack of focus. So the first step to overcoming this obstacle is to change what you say to yourself from negative statements like, “I can’t do this,” or “This is too hard,” to positive ones like, “I can do this,” or “This is easy.” It takes a lot of practice but, the results can be tremendous.
We’ve looked at 33 ways to improve your attention span and improve your concentration. These are not magic tricks. They are proven techniques that work, and they are simple to implement. Hopefully, after reading this report, you will realize that nothing innately wrong with you prevents you from concentrating on any subject for any time. No one is born with a short attention span. It’s a learned behavior, and it can easily be unlearned. Remember these 33 tips on concentration, and you should start to see measurable improvements in no time.