How to improve concentration: 10 tips to stay focussed

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Written By Margonoe Tumindax

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We all struggle with concentrating in this modern-day world with the kind of lifestyle, diet and distractions we have around us. Get to know how to improve concentration!

It seems like we’ve all been there, and done that – trying to accomplish a task with a wandering mind. Isn’t it? In times when multiple things end up vying for our attention in our personal and professional space, it is easy to lose focus. Be it a presentation at work, studying for an important examination, exercising in the gym or cooking, there are various scenarios in life when it is important that you concentrate, but you just cannot! No matter how difficult it may seem to stay focussed on your task at hand, there are always ways to reduce distraction and improve concentration.

What is concentration?

Concentration is a simple ability to direct your mental efforts towards something in hand at the moment. It could be some work assigned to you or anything you are trying to learn at that time. People often confuse concentration with attention span, but attention span refers to the length of time you can concentrate on something, explains psychiatrist Dr Sarthak Dave.

Feelings of fatigue, exhaustion, stemming from sleep deprivation can lead to difficulties in concentration and focus. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are the factors that affect concentration?

Various factors like age or lack of sleep may affect the ability of people to concentrate. As people age, the issue of decreased concentration is also followed by memory loss. Any form of brain or head injuries or any form of mental health conditions like anxiety or depression can also affect concentration. Some common lifestyle factors that can affect concentration include:

• Lack of sleep
• Hunger
• Lack of physical activity
• Tiredness
• Stress

How to improve concentration?

From following certain focus exercises and eating the right food to physical activity and practising mindfulness, there’s a whole lot you can do to improve concentration and focus. According to Dr Sarthak Dave, here are some natural ways to increase concentration in adults:

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1. Focus exercises

Games are not just for childhood! Indulging in activities like crossword puzzles, reading, chess, memory games, word searches, or brain-training games can help improve concentration over time. A 2015 study analysing 4,715 adults shows that spending 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week, on any brain training activity can enhance concentration. Brain training games can aid in developing your working and short-term memory, alongside helping develop your processing and problem-solving skills.

To know more about concentration-boosting games, read this: 5 engaging mind games to boost concentration and focus

2. Minimise distractions

An environment that is full of distractions is bound to make you lose your concentration. Try eliminating distractions by working in a quiet, clutter-free environment and by avoiding multitasking. When we try our hands at various tasks altogether, we tend to lose focus. “Handle one task at a time to avoid spreading your attention too thin,” suggests the expert.

3. Set specific goals

When we start our day and look at one big task or challenge that has to be done, we are left feeling overwhelmed. An anxious mindset can never focus on any task at any given point in time. “Break tasks into smaller, manageable parts and set clear objectives to stay on track,” shares Dr Dave.

4. Practice mindfulness

Sitting meditation, which involves focusing on our breath and letting go of unwanted thoughts, helps us concentrate better in general life. This practice, along with some deep breathing techniques, can amplify our concentration ability, helping our brain focus better.

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Also read: 4 simple mindfulness practices to stay calm and reduce stress

5. Take regular breaks

Short breaks can prevent burnout and help refresh your mind for better concentration. When we are working constantly without taking those much-needed breaks in between, we reach the stage of burnout very soon. And, with an exhausted mind, it will become harder to focus. So, make sure to take those small breaks to clear out that haze in your mind.

how to improve concentration
Being organized the day before helps one concentrate better. Image courtesy: Freepik

6. Make exercise a priority

Physical activity improves cognition function and can enhance concentration. Increased concentration is among the several benefits of persistent exercise. A 2018 study analyzed 116 fifth graders and found evidence that suggested that daily physical activity can help better both concentration and attention after barely 4 weeks.

7. Get enough sleep

Being sleep deprived can hinder your concentration and affect cognitive functions like memory and attention. Being too weary can also slow down your reflexes, affecting your ability to drive or perform other daily tasks. A pressing day, health issues, and other factors can make it hard for you to get quality sleep at night. But you must aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night to ensure your brain is well-rested and can concentrate effectively.

8. Stay organised

If you plan your day well ahead in advance, you will function better. Use planners or digital tools to organise tasks and prioritize your workload, says the expert.

Also read: 10 best planners for 2024 to stay organised and productive

9. Stay hydrated and eat healthy food

The foods you consume have a direct impact on cognitive functions like concentration and memory. Try to eliminate processed foods, excess sugar, and very greasy or fatty foods from your diet. Try eating more foods like fatty fish, eggs, blueberries, and spinach to accentuate concentration. Alongside, staying hydrated can also positively impact your concentration.

10. Drink caffeine

If remaining off caffeine is your lifestyle preference, you can refrain from consuming it. However, there is research that suggests that having caffeine may improve your attention and focus. If you are sensing your concentration levels dropping, then consider having a cup of coffee or green tea. If caffeine is something you avoid, you can have a serving of dark chocolate which may offer similar benefits if you don’t relish caffeinated drinks.

A study on the ‘Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition’
discovered evidence to suggest that phytochemicals that are naturally found in matcha, a kind of green tea, not only enhance cognitive function but also promote feelings of relaxation. So, matcha can be a great option for those who feel jittery after drinking coffee.

Try inculcating these tips to improve your concentration levels, and see the difference!


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