3 Ways to Improve Your Mental Focus
By Antonietta Marinelli | October 15, 2021
In today’s world, remaining connected and manage an ever-increasing volume of information can make it challenging to remain focused and staying on task. Even during a quieter time, distraction is literally at the touch of our fingertips as we find ourselves scrolling through our social media feeds or catching up on that TV show we can’t stop binge-watching.
So how do combat distraction, concentrate and in turn improve our ability to focus the mind on one subject, object, or thought, and at the same time exclude from the mind every other unrelated thought, ideas, feelings, and sensations? (Chia, 2021).
Here are some tips and tricks that can help you improve your mental focus – and avoid those challenging times of procrastination!
Remove Your Phone!
Let’s organize a block time in your schedule to rid ALL distractions! Whether it be requesting to be left alone, putting your phone on Do Not Disturb, or switching off all electronical devices, it is vital to remove the things that keep you from getting through what you need to. Close your social media apps, put your phone on silent, or keep your phone away from you for a set period. Research investigated whether merely having one’s own smartphone nearby could influence our cognitive abilities (Duke, 2018). Our cognitive capacity is critical when helping us learn, reason, and develop creativity. Even the smallest of impacts on cognitive capacity can have a big impact on our concentration.
Limiting Your Focus
This means cutting down on falling into the habit of multi-tasking. Multi-tasking can really make us fall into the trap of procrastination and with juggling 100 things, we end up successfully completing 0 of those things. Attempting to complete or attempt to, multiple things at once makes us feel productive, but it also a potential recipe for lower focus, concentration, and productivity – which can lead to potential burn out. An example of multi-tasking can include watching a lecture while attempting to study, all while cooking your dinner. So, lecturer is speaking away, study notes remain lingering, and the hot water has finally boiled – oh boy. Such multi-tasking not only hampers your ability to focus but compromises your work quality. Stop juggling, and instead give your full attention to one thing at a time.
Mindfulness is referred to the psychological state of our awareness. It is defined as a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgement. Practicing mindfulness offers a way to pay attention to the present moment and can be achieved through exercise, writing, reading, meditating or anything in which can calm us down. According to researchers at Harvard university, our minds are lost in thought 47% of the time. For students, these thoughts regularly stem from two cases: dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Research conducted by Columbia University Medical Center claims that mediating can shift your concentration levels. Concentrative fixates on a particular point, whether it is a word, breath, or object. The goal is to release thoughts and maintain or refocus your attention on that point, preventing your mind from wandering (Columbia University, 2018). Mindfulness is all about drawing back where your mind wanders off to.
To fully practice mindfulness, you must be self-aware of your physical and mental actions. Mindfulness is the practice of “return” - this means noticing when your mind has strayed thinking and bringing your awareness to the present (Cho, 2016). Practicing mindfulness can shift your mindset to a more stable and positive place, but remember, it’s all dependent on how self-aware you are of it.
By strengthening our mental focus, we may find that we are able to accomplish or fulfill more tasks and concentrate on the things in life in which bring us satisfaction, positivity and joy. However, to take these steps, we must learn how to move forward and building mental focus does not happen overnight. Consistency is key, and remember, you’ve got this.
• Cho, J. (2016). 4 Ways of Creating Positive Mindset in 2017 Using Mindfulness. Forbes. [Accessed 25 March 2021] 4 Ways of Creating Positive Mindset in 2017
• Corliss, J. (2014). Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress. Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. [Accessed 25 March 2021]
• Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress.
• Chia, S. (2021). 15 Ways to improve your focus and concentration skills. A Better Up. [Accessed 14 October 2021] 15 Ways to improve your focus and concentration skills. A Better Up
• Duke, K. (2018). Having Your Smartphone Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking. Harvard Business Review. [Accessed 14 October 2021] Having Your Smartphone Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking