“I keep losing focus”, complains Noreen. “I wish I could concentrate better”, says Abdul. Do you hear yourself sometimes saying this? There are so many things to think about that you just cannot seem to be able to concentrate properly, any more.
Concentration is the ability to focus upon one thing at a time. This is not necessarily an easy skill to develop and retain as life, for all of us, has so many disruptions.
Some of us pride ourselves on being able to do more than one thing at a time but the chances are that instead of doing one task really well, we actually manage to do a number of tasks not so well. The reason being that trying to do too much contemporaneously usually leads to poor performance or mediocre outcomes.
Distraction and boredom
You cannot concentrate properly until you stop yourself from being distracted! Now this might seem very obvious but we can fail to take the requisite action to either remove the distraction from us or to remove ourselves away from the distraction.
You may have a mountain of paperwork at work to do which is piled high on your desk. Every time you look at it, you feel overwhelmed. Sound familiar? You cannot bear to face it and so you look for any excuse to be distracted so that you don’t have to address the problem. However, the longer you leave it the higher it becomes!
Do you spend time on your Facebook or Twitter account when you should be using your mental energy to address a work problem? Admittedly, it may be more enjoyable because it doesn’t require effort. But you are not paid by your employer to come in to work merely to chat with your friends online – that’s just a distraction. So if you want to play an active part in being sociable online, then schedule a time – your own time – to do so. Don’t get caught up with ‘chat’.
Your cell phone
If you jump every time your mobile phone rings, the chances are that you are addicted to it. I was sitting with a client the other day and we were having an in-depth conversation. The phone rang and I had expected him to stop talking to me in order to take the phone call. Imagine my surprise, when he said that the call could wait until we had finished our conversation. He explained that he had trained himself to listen to his messages only at set times during the day so that it wouldn’t break his concentration. “Good discipline!” I thought!
There are many things that can worry you and get in the way of your concentration. And often financial or relationship problems can also affect your sleep. Sleep deprivation occurs when the lack of restful sleep is severe enough to compromise basic body functions and this can certainly bring about a lack of ability to focus upon necessary issues the following day. Everyone needs adequate sleep.
There can be nothing more important than the ability to concentrate – particularly when driving and we hear of many sad cases when individuals decide to risk accidents when driving by looking at their satnav, listening to music or talking on the phone – and it is at times like these when accidents can occur as a result of lack of vital concentration.
What you can do
- Make a note of every time that your mind wanders. Add a timeline and describe what you were doing when it happened. See if a pattern emerges.
- Make sure you exercise regularly during the day to help improve the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain.
- Give your mind a quick break every 30 minutes or so. Have power naps to improve your concentration.
- Practice doing one thing at a time. Sit back and feel the sense of satisfaction after completing one specific task, properly and within schedule.
- Anticipate distractions and discipline yourself not to get caught up with them.
- Your bed is where you sleep and your desk is where you work. Make sure you have a very rigid demarcation line.
- Do one task at a time – efficiently
- Avoid distractions that kill concentration
- In order to be productive we need to focus