by Blake Herzog
There’s no doubt many people today have trouble concentrating on the task at hand, and the technology of smartphones and social media can contribute.
But tech isn’t the actual cause of these issues — it’s how you respond to being in the presence of these and other stimuli. Some people need more practice than others in consciously choosing what their brain focuses on at any single moment and how long it stays where it should.
Success means getting your required work done more quickly and get on with the business of taking care of you; fitness, nutrition, relaxation and your emotional and spiritual health.
Set your intent
Make a schedule for what you’re going to do and how long you’re going to do it. Putting your mind to work and setting a realistic deadline for when that task needs to be finished can be wondrous for funneling our brainpower to what needs to be accomplished now! Some people do their best work on deadline.
The opposite of “multitasking,” which has been proven to be a myth as far as working effectively is concerned, mindfulness is the practice of concentrating on whatever you’re doing or is happening in the present moment, gently pulling your focus back whenever it wanders to the pinging on your phone, the meeting that didn’t go well or the one you’re dreading because of how the last one turned out.
Build focus gradually
If willing your brain to focus on one task for 30 minutes is too much, you can work up to that goal by starting out with five minutes of undivided attention to one priority, then bringing that up to 10 minutes the next day and so on until the half-hour is a breeze.
Regular physical activity boosts your focus by releasing endorphins and other chemicals that enhance all brain functions and improve neuroplasticity, or your brain’s ability to use that blood flow to improve the brain with fresh stores of oxygen and protein. Just in the short term, concentration is improved for two to three hours following exercise.
Deeper focus is often made possible by blocking the things that tend to draw your focus away from whatever needs your most immediate attention. Turn your phone off and put it in another room whenever feasible, allot a limited amount of time each day to accomplish what you need to via email or social media and then put those tools aside for the rest of the day or use filters for both.
Sometimes part of the problem is just having too much on your to-do list at a given time. That’s usually the result when others are asking too much of your time, usually without knowing it. Know what your priorities are, and don’t feel guilty about turning down other projects.