Many people struggle with the how to focus better question. As our lives get increasingly busy, our lack of focus seems to be inevitable.
There is just simply too much to do and too many tasks to juggle to demonstrate the level of focus skills needed with work, and especially school.
So, it’s no wonder millions struggle with how to focus better in life, with work, with school, and simple day-to-day tasks.
Why Can’t I Focus?
There is nothing more exasperating than having a to-do list a mile long, a full inbox, or a packed schedule, and finding yourself unable to buckle down and get it done.
Lack of focus, even more so than lack of resources or other issues, is very likely to blame. What is more, trouble concentrating is enormously frustrating for ambitious individuals.
Many people report difficulties when it comes to how to focus better, especially when we have so much going on in our personal lives and our modern world constantly bombards us with alerts and notifications.
Related Post: How to Live in the Moment
What Is Concentration?
Put simply, concentration is the ability to stay focused on one activity or task for a period of time. It is a simple yet important skill for success in life.
Multi-taskers beware: typically, trying to juggle more than one thing at a time is a sign of a lack of concentration, not some kind of superhuman ability. What is more, multi-tasking usually does not yield as good results as focusing on one thing at a time.
So if you want to learn how to focus better, make a to-do list, and mindfully work on each task until it is finished before moving on to another.
What Causes Lack of Concentration?
There are many factors that contribute to a lack of concentration. For one thing, there may be physiological reasons why you might have trouble focusing, and these require professional intervention and, in some cases, medications.
On the medical side, many conditions — everything from heart or liver issues to head trauma to sleep apnea — can affect your concentration. You can try starting with a physical with your primary care physician to rule out obvious medical issues limiting your ability to focus better.
There are also psychological conditions that impact focus, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, and alcohol and substance abuse disorders. If any of these apply to you, please, please, seek professional help.
There are many other, less severe reasons why your concentration might be faltering, though. How to focus better may be impacted by less severe psychological issues, like stress. It is obviously very easy to become distracted when you have a lot on your mind. What is more, there are relatively easy remedies for improving overall focus that you can try. Read on.
If I Can’t Concentrate, Do I Have Adult ADHD?
The short answer is no, not necessarily, but it is possible. Difficulties with concentration can have a myriad of causes. Before despairing that you might have this affliction, try some of the suggestions below for how to better focus.
That said, if none of the above causes seem apparent and none of the below suggestions work in your case, you may want to speak with a professional.
You can start with your primary care physician but an actual diagnosis should come from a specialist, such as a mental health counselor or neurologist.
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How to Focus Better
1. Get More Exercise
That’s right; the benefits of exercise extend far beyond weight loss and appearance. Exercise is beneficial to overall health in so many ways. Because it improves your overall health, promotes good brain health, and helps control your energy levels, exercise is a great way to improve concentration.
2. Take Care of Your Body
It’s pretty simple: if your body is struggling to support itself because of lack of sleep or good nutrition, it hard to concentrate on anything else. You should eat a balanced diet of all food groups and lots of fruits and vegetables.
At the same time, be sure to indulge your cravings for your favorite foods once in a while. If you don’t, you run the risk of falling into a deprivation mindset, which can be a serious distraction.
Sleep is another important component for overall health, especially for brain health. Everyone’s needs are different, but most people need seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function at full capacity.
You can improve the quality of your sleep and your ability to sleep by avoiding screen time at night and making sure that your bedroom is dark and cool. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages too close to bedtime, as well.
Taking good care of your body is a way to improve your focus at all times, especially when you can’t use other methods, such as when you are in class or in school, or at work in certain environments.
When you take care of your body and practice balance, learning how to focus better becomes much easier.
3. Improve Your Environment
You can’t expect your brain to be able to focus when you’re throwing a lot of other stuff at it. It may seem elementary, but little things such as turning off the television and minimizing other noise can go a long way in improving concentration.
As many people who have recently begun working at home have learned, frequent interruptions are disastrous for good concentration, so it is important to communicate with your family or roommates to minimize interruptions.
4. Listen to Music
While tuning out distracting noise is important to improving concentration, tuning in to other noises can actually be helpful. Music is a wonderful tool to help you stay focused. Experts generally agree that classical music to help you focus is best, more specifically baroque classical music. But any music without lyrics, played at a background-level volume, will help with focus at work, when studying, or when working on homework.
Be sure to choose music to help you focus that you do not feel passionately about (either love or hate). If music is distracting for you, try playing nature sounds or white noise. Both can work equally as well.
5. Train Your Brain
Did your mom ever tell you that watching television rots your brain? While that isn’t exactly factual, the brain is a complex organ and needs active stimulation to stay in tip-top condition. Reading about topics that interest you is one way to “exercise” your brain.
If reading isn’t your thing, work on puzzles such as sudoku or crosswords, or there are many smartphone applications that advertise brain-stimulating puzzles. That said, some brain science experts recommend reducing screen time overall to improve brain health.
Reading develops critical thinking skills and trains your brain how to focus better. It improves concentration and limits overexposure to technology, which is a big reason why many can’t focus. We are constantly bombarded with too much external stimuli in the form of television, smart phones, computers, and gaming systems.
6. Try Supplements
There are a number of supplements available that tout their benefits for concentration. In addition, some people have experienced increased ability to stay focused using essential oils.
Some of these supplements include Organic Flaxseed Oil (especially Omega-3 Fatty Acids), phosphatidylserine, Gingko Biloba, Creatine, Ginseng, and several others. Vitamin D is a particularly good supplement for brain fog. I like this Raw Vitamin D3 Supplement.
The world of supplements can be very puzzling to someone not used to them. Take your time researching, and it is also advisable to consult your doctor before starting a regimen of any kind.
7. Take Breaks
So far, we have been giving advice for ways to concentrate for long hours, but now we’re going to talk about the flip side and the importance of taking breaks.
Maybe you have a co-worker or classmate who brags about being able to concentrate on a single task for hours at a time. This isn’t typical behavior for people, and it can even be bad for your health.
Experts agree that sitting for extended periods of time can cause damage to your body.
Taking breaks at work or when studying gives your brain some rest time, and studies show that taking breaks can translate to more time spent working overall, since you don’t experience burnout as quickly.
To optimize breaks, do something both active and rewarding, such as playing with your dog or going outside to stretch in the sun. If you have something rewarding to look forward to, this can help motivate you to stay focused and complete the task at hand.
Some people utilize timers to help them concentrate. They may set a timer for a defined period of time in which they will work continuously without taking a break. This method can be especially effective when you’re trying to stay focused in front of a computer screen, since it can help remove the temptation to browse the web or social media.
8. Meditate, Get Outside, or Engage in a Spiritual Practice That Works for You
If it isn’t apparent by now, taking care of your overall health can help improve concentration, and the healthiest human beings are balanced. Just as it is important to eat, sleep, and move for good health, it is also important to tend to your spiritual well-being.
This absolutely does not mean that you need to join a church. There are many sources of spiritual fullness outside of organized religions. Many people find that their spiritual needs are met by adopting a yoga practice or simply spending more time in nature.
Meditation in particular has been shown in several studies to be good for concentration specifically. Meditation has been the best answer for me of how to focus better.
Especially if you have already improved your sleep hygiene or changed your diet, meditation might be the best next step if you’re still struggling to stay focused.
If you are new to meditation, or even advanced, these posts can help you learn how to meditate for better focus and concentration:
- The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness Meditation
- The Ancient Meditation Technique for Reaching Higher States of Consciousness
- How to Live in the Moment
- Samurai Meditation: The Ancient Warrior Practice
- How to Time Travel During Meditation
Final Thoughts on How to Focus Better
If you have read this article, you’re one of the many people in the world who strive to better themselves on a day-to-day basis. In order for this to be possible, we have to be able to concentrate for long hours. The tips on this list are great places to start for how to focus better in life.
If you are unable to improve your concentration, or if you want help finding the optimal methods for your needs and lifestyle, it can’t hurt to seek the help of a mental health professional. Just be up front about what you’re hoping to get out of your sessions from the beginning.
References for How to Focus Better
Columbia University School of Professional Studies. “How Meditation Can Help You Focus.” sps.columbia.edu/news/how-meditation-can-help-you-focus
Sleep Foundation, The. www.sleepfoundation.org
Start Standing. www.startstanding.org