After a year of uncertainty and having to transform our days to accommodate unique and urgent circumstances, many have had to learn how to work remotely. Although there is a promise to return to normalcy on the horizon, there is still work that needs to get done today.
Ideally, good self-care such as minding nutrition, exercising, sleep, and mediation all help you stay sharp. However, there might come a time when doing those things aren't possible because you need to concentrate regardless of the circumstances. Concentration is a practice in itself that requires patience and persistence. Let's take a look at four things that you can do to help you improve your focus and concentrate on getting done what needs to get done.
1. ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS
Eliminating distractions might sound like an obvious tip; however, do you realize how many things in your surroundings might be distracting you? Aside from the most common distractions in your work environment, i.e., phone and email, distractions can be incredibly high when working from home, including children in need, the buzzer on the washer, the dog needing to go out, etc. All of these things can soon drain your attention.
However, addressing your distractions helps you work to improve your time-management skills. Turning off cell phones or moving your desk away from a window reduces distractions and helps free up brain space to allow you to focus on your work.
Setting precise schedules to help children, tend to the laundry, or get the dog some exercise can also work to benefit your productivity and concentration. These kinds of distractions can become great spots to get you away from your work. Sometimes a well-planned break or diversion can help you return to a task with a renewed sense of focus. So, prioritizing your time to help the children, feed the dog, or fold the clothes could work to help you get your brain reset and refocused when you return to your workspace.
2. NARROW YOUR SCOPE
When you take on too much and don't prioritize your time, it can become challenging to concentrate on anything. Break down tasks into smaller easier to follow steps, and tackle them one by one. Trying to multitask all your priorities is similar to cooking on all four stovetop burners with the heat set to simmer. Switching from one task to another causes you to work faster and less efficiently, which also causes more stress and frustration.
Instead, focus on one manageable task at a time, and you will likely find it easier to focus. You will also find it less stressful because you won't feel like you have a mountain of work to overcome when you return to your work if you get distracted.
Narrowing your scope helps you gain a sense of accomplishment which helps build momentum for your concentration level. You can also benefit from tracking your progress and figuring out when your highest levels of energy and brainpower exist in your day. For example, if your "best brain" emerges first thing in the morning when you are doing other trivial chores, you are therefore using your "best brain" on non-essential tasks. Instead, use that time to handle your essential tasks. Allow yourself an hour or two to work without disruption, and you might find that you accomplish more in those two hours than you do at any other point in the day.
3. MANAGE YOUR TIME EMAILING
Email, whether professional or personal, is distracting. While it might feel good to reply to an email, research shows that doing so creates a sense of accomplishment and even releases dopamine. After a brain response, the downside is that it takes up to 15 minutes for the brain to reset and refocus. It is more beneficial to deal with any issues via a quick phone call or in-person conversation rather than a lengthy email exchange. If this is not possible, you can limit emailing to just three times daily. If the email is non-essential, then respond at another time when you are not trying to work or save emailing for when you are taking a break.
4. PRACTICE CLEARING YOUR MIND
Spending time clearing your mind altogether can help you eliminate all the trivial and distracting thoughts that often take up brain space. It is not about meditation necessarily, but instead removing digital distractions, including turning off the phone, radio, or television.
You might even benefit from leaving your music devices behind when you exercise; this will allow your brain to wander and stretch out without the guidance of any distraction. Such a practice stimulates the mind and body. It will enable you to think more deeply. Stepping away from your work to sit with yourself, even if only for five minutes, can help shift your brain into a deeper state of thinking and concentration.
Boosting concentration takes work, but it is achievable when you reduce your distractions, expectations and set reasonable goals. Understand that attention is short-lived under "normal" circumstances and is one of the most limited brain capacity resources. The added stress, grief, and anxiety resulting from the pandemic might further diminish your ability to focus. If you are approaching or have reached a point where you can no longer handle your day's priorities, then the time to get help is today. At START UP RECOVERY, we meet each individual where they are at, both personally and professionally. Our goal is to help individuals transform themselves from within to instill patience and avoid exacerbating negative emotions from trouble focusing. With a staff of motivated professionals and peers alike, we provide a safe and comfortable space where you can begin your transformation journey into your best self. To learn more, call us at 310-773-3809.