Whether you’re working in a shared office or your own little haven, hidden away from the world, focus can be hard to find. Though it’s easy to blame external distractions like noisy neighbours or chatty coworkers, the truth is, concentration is something you cultivate from within.
This realization may be uncomfortable, but this is actually good news! It means the ability to concentrate, regardless of what’s going on around you, lies within. All you need to do is unlock it. The following five strategies should help:
If you’re rolling your eyes right now, we feel you. Meditation gets touted as a cure-all for everything from insomnia to physical pain. However, this widespread praise is being lavished on meditation for a reason – it works. The problem is, the idea of sitting still with your eyes shut, trying to focus on your breath sounds torturous to many people.
If you count yourself among those resistant to meditation, you may be interested to know that there are dozens of different ways to meditate. You can use mantras, meditate with your eyes open, use breathwork, or focus on emotional release. No matter who you are, there’s a mediation approach to suit your personality. So, a little bit of research and some trial and error can unlock a whole new world of focus and clarity.
2. Optimize Your Environment
Your surroundings can have a profound impact on your ability to maintain mental focus. Keeping your workspace clean and free of clutter and distractions is a simple way to get more out of your brain. To up your game, throw on some chilled music or ambient sounds, fire up your essential oil aroma diffuser with some peppermint, lemon, rosemary or other focus-boosting scent and you’ll have created your own personal oasis of calm and mental acuity.
3. Ditch Social Media
Extreme as the idea of ditching social media may sound, it can do wonders for your ability to focus. If you’re unable to do away with it entirely, consider implementing any of the below fixes:
- Avoid social media apps in the first hour after waking;
- Avoid scrolling – instead, get in, get the information you’re looking for, and get out;
- Keep messaging apps but delete those that invite perpetual scrolling;
- Deactivate notifications for all social media apps;
- Use an app to block social media sites during work hours.
4. Plan and segment your time
It’s impossible to find focus if you don’t have a clear target to focus on. By planning each day the night before, you set yourself up to hit the ground running in the morning. The way you get started will influence the way the rest of the day unfolds. So, the simple act of plotting out what you want to do and when you want to get it done can be immensely helpful. When you have a clear path to follow, you’ll find the ability to focus stays with you, even through the famous mid-afternoon slump period.
5. Take breaks
Think of focus as a kind of mental muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it will become. However, like your physical muscles, it needs rest periods in order to truly flourish. Depending on your personality, you may wish to use a timer to remind you to take breaks or simply allow yourself to get into the flow of work and then pull out at a time that feels right.
The ability to concentrate or focus has been nestled inside you all along – you just need the right strategies to unlock it. Start with the ideas above, and watch your focus flourish.
Image 1 by Brooke Lark/Unsplash
Image 2 by Norbert Levajsics