Working life or studies can be very hectic and many things make concentrating difficult: multitasking, incoming emails, co-workers/co-students chatting and social media – to mention just a few.
Fortunately, you can improve your ability to focus. Here are four tips that can help you enhance your focus:
1. Don’t be available all the time
If your phone is constantly reporting new messages and emails and your friends pop in to ask for your advice, your brain is overwhelmed and it becomes really difficult to focus.
Remember, you don’t have to respond to every email and react immediately to social media notifications.
Opt to book certain times of the day when you check your emails and messages, and only respond during those times. Also, disable notifications and pop-ups from distracting apps so they don’t interrupt you all the time.
2. Clean up the distractions from your sight
Do you keep things on your computer screen that are unrelated to the job you’re doing? Extra tabs and running programs interfere with concentration. In particular, moving elements, such as a rotating banner on the page, easily breaks the focus.
Only keep on screen what you need to do for the job you are working on. When you do something else, close extra tabs and programs. When needed, you can open them again.
3. Challenge your concentration but keep frequent brakes!
Exclude interruptions, put a timer on and give yourself 15-20 minutes, and see how much you can achieve by working hard that whole time. 15-20 minutes is short enough so that you can concentrate properly and long enough for you to get something done. Challenge yourself to give it a try and you will find it to be rewarding by seeing how much you can achieve in 20 minutes. And after this 20 minute session, take a break! Take these moments of concentration a few times during working/studying. Three or four hard-working quarters will greatly improve your performance!
4. Practice awareness skills – be mindful
One way to improve your concentration is to practise mindfulness. Mindfulness means that you focus on the current moment. Observe what is happening right now. Try not to make judgments about what’s going on and receive everything that is happening with an open mind. You do not have to seek relaxation, but awareness. Mindfulness also has other good effects when being practised on daily basis. According to research, it improves the quality of sleep; helps you to cope with stressful situations and refreshes your memory. Although individual exercises can improve your ability to concentrate, practise your concentration regularly to get the best results. A Good way to start practising mindfulness is to download an app to your phone (there are many free, useful mindfulness apps) and put a reminder to your phone to do a mindfulness exercise every day. That way it becomes a routine.
Vilhelmiina Välimäki is a Finnish psychologist, who moved to Malta 2018 and has been slowly but surely adjusting to the Maltese environment and culture. She works at Willingness as a Clinical Psychologist and she is specialised in offering support to individuals from different age groups, couples and families. You can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org or 9944 9910.