Thanks to the millions of distractions provided by work, the internet, social media, and your personal life, we now struggle with everything from safe driving to completing a simple task to remembering something important, according to CNN. However, that does not mean that distraction needs to dominate your days.
If you could benefit from greater focus at work or home, the following 7 tips will set you on a better path to concentration and productivity:
Meditation not only increases your sense of calm and focus, but it can actually make you smarter. In fact, meditation has been shown to do everything from increase grey matter in the brain to decrease depression and anxiety. Just a few weeks of meditation leads to an enhanced ability to focus and remember things while also diminishing the tendency of the mind to wander, according to a recent study. Meditation also reduces the “monkey mind” inclination to jump from limb to limb and thought to thought, according to a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America study. Allot 10 minutes a day, set a timer and simply focus on your breath in and out at your nose in order to reap the many benefits of meditation. Every time your mind wanders off in another direction, simply bring it back to your breath.
Breathe some more.
In addition to traditional meditation, with its simple focus on the breath, specific breathing exercises can also be beneficial. Deep breathing – also known as abdominal or belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing – can reduce the body’s stress response, according to Harvard University. Inhale deeply, pause, and then exhale completely. Slowing down the breath can also help to reduce blood pressure, leading to greater health, wellness, energy and focus throughout the day. You can also use breathing exercises to pinpoint a particular area: Inhale, focus, exhale distraction, or inhale success, exhale failure, for example. Breathe in the quality you need more of in your day and exhale its opposite. Essentially, any breathing exercise you do can enhance your ability to concentrate, among other benefits.
Kick back with a “coffee nap.”
Not as crazy as it sounds, drinking a little coffee (or other caffeinated beverage) just before a short power nap actually bolsters alertness better than just coffee or a nap alone. You will awake more refreshed, thanks to the caffeine kicking in, giving you the boost you need to focus the rest of the day.
Move your body.
You already know that regular exercise can keep you fit and healthy, and you probably recognize that it boosts your energy level as well. But you may not know that exercising can make you smarter and more focused. Exercise reduces inflammation and insulin resistance while increasing the release of growth factors, all of which supports better concentration, according to Harvard Medical School. If you don’t already have a regular exercise program, try something that appeals to you such as walking, swimming, barre or yoga class, weight lifting or biking. Even a short burst of movement can energize and refocus on your body and mind. When you start feeling sluggish or distracted, take a quick movement break to reenergize and refocus.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Drinking ample amounts of water can actually impact your cognitive function. Adults who restrict fluids to the point where they lose just one percent of their body weight see notable losses in focus and concentration, according to a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Fill your water bottle up at least twice a day and keep it with you; drinking water is refreshing and when you feel better, you perform better.
Fuel up for focus.
In addition to ongoing hydration, it is important to fuel your body with the right nutrients if you want to maintain your focus. Enjoy foods such as blueberries, fish, leafy green vegetables, nuts and even dark chocolate to enhance concentration and reduce brain fog.
Plan for success.
When you set a goal and set yourself on the right path in the morning, you will have a better chance of staying on track and on target than if you just wing it. Give yourself regular distraction breaks for your favorite friend or app, but ensure that you never stray too far or too long from your goal. And when you achieve it, celebrate accordingly.
No one has laser focus all of the time, but if you find you are increasingly distracted by the many wonders of the technological world, a few low-tech actions and exercises can ensure that you enjoy greater focus, productivity and purpose throughout the day.
Author: Dan Scalco is the founder and marketing director at Digitalux, a digital-marketing agency located in Hoboken, N.J. Throughout his career, he has helped hundreds of businesses save time, increase leads and maximize sales. You can connect with him on Twitter @DanScalco.