Contrary to what you might think, your brain is a muscle, and therefore, can actually grow bigger and stronger – literally.
So what do you do when you’re stuck at work feeling drained? How do you stay concentrated when you’re bored and suddenly going cross-eyed? These are the telltale signs of someone having trouble with their brain focusing.
You know the feeling. It’s like your mind has suddenly become mush and is slowly leaking out of your ear canal. But don’t worry, because it’s something you can easily bounce back from!
Today, we’re going to take a look at five easy ways you can increase your concentration and focus.
What Does Science Say About Your Brain Focusing?
The brain has to be one of the biggest mysteries of the human body. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned through research today, it’s that the brain is capable of continued development even as an adult.
For many years, people believed that your brain simply stopped growing and developing once you turned around 25 years old. But it turns out that more modern investigations show us a different story.
Some studies even show that certain activities, such as juggling, can make your brain bigger.
So, if you’re trying to figure out how to strengthen your mind, just know that it can be done, and more research is proving how. Our brain is a muscle, and just like any other muscle in our body, it needs to be exercised.
1. Make Things Harder On Yourself
As we kick off our tips on increasing concentration, we’ll throw one at you that might actually seem counterintuitive at first.
“I’m already having a hard enough time staying focused! Why Would I make it any harder?” you yell out in vain.
But there are theories floating around that the brain can simply only handle a certain amount of information. It makes sense, too. Think about the last time you felt overwhelmed.
What did you do? Probably got frustrated and mentally shut down.
It stands to reason, then, that you can make the thing you need to focus on as difficult as possible so that it is the only thing you can focus on. By creating more roadblocks, you give yourself a greater defense against distractions and a wandering mind.
If we’re talking about work, one way to do this is to make your workspace messier and harder to navigate. If a lot of your work is done on the computer, give yourself a folder structure that is deeper than just one or two folders.
Make yourself work harder to get to where you’re going so that, presumably, you’ll be more focused on getting the job done.
2. Jot That Down for Later
Do you have a wandering mind when you work? Maybe when some thought pops in your head, you immediately chase it and find yourself falling down the rabbit hole.
Instead of indulging these random thoughts and instincts, make yourself a checklist of diversions.
Maybe you had a discussion about a movie and you wanted to figure out who that actor was or what other movies they’d been in. Maybe you heard about a concert you wanted to go to but you couldn’t remember the dates.
Regardless of what it is, simply write it down somewhere. Make it a to-do list that you can return to at a later point in time so that you can keep your brain focusing on the task at hand.
3. Take a Breather
In the first tip, we said that you should make things harder on yourself in order to concentrate better. Here, we’re saying that sometimes you just need to stop.
When we daydream or our mind wanders, we tend to see that as the opposite of being focused. But it turns out that daydreaming could actually be a productive process.
You could try meditating or stare at a specific object for a set amount of time. Maybe you can just go take a walk outside and get some of that fresh air.
Whatever you do, make sure that you take a break once in a while, because it is actually a great way to increase concentration and focus in the long run.
4. Start Small, Set Goals
If staying focused on tasks is really difficult for you, then you may need to set smaller, more realistic goals for yourself.
Typically speaking, we should be giving ourselves a break after every hour or so of work. But for you, that might simply be asking too much!
So, start small. Tell yourself that, no matter what, you’re going to stay focused on your current project for 10 minutes (even five) and commit to that no matter what.
Keep doing that little by little until it seems like second nature. Then, begin increasing your goals for how long you’ll stay focused. In the same way that you commit to a workout plan, you need to take baby steps so that you don’t burn out.
5. Try Concentration Exercises
When all else fails, there are certain focus exercises that people do to keep their minds sharp. Crosswords and puzzles are games that you can do from time to time to keep your mind sharp and focused.
Alternatively, you can do something that seems menial but put all your focus on it. For example, you can sit and chair but try to remain as still as humanly possible or open and close your fists repeatedly.
Whatever you do, give it all of your attention as if it was the most important thing in the world. Study the tiny movements in your hand as you open and close your fist or as you try to sit without moving.
It may seem silly, but it gives your mind a very specific thing to focus on which can snap you out of that muddy, hazy feeling you can get in your brain.
Get Your Focus Back
Staying focused on the task at hand is a difficult thing for anyone. In a world of constant distractions, it’s too easy to let your mind wander and become unproductive.
If you are having problems with your brain focusing, then make sure to remember that your brain is a muscle. Sometimes, that means you need to exercise and strengthen it, and other times it means you need to give it a break.
If you’re having trouble concentrating because you feel low on energy, check out these five best sources of iron!