Improving Your Mental Focus By Adunke Olatunji

Concentration steals full attention and delivers good results. Ideas flow in numerous ways but the best is to harmonise them properly towards achieving a goal.

Staying on task can be difficult, but it can be particularly challenging when you are surrounded by constant distraction. In today’s always-connected world, diversions are nothing more than a click away.

Even during quiet moments, distraction is literally at your fingertips as you find yourself checking your Instagram notifications or the latest news updates.

The ability to concentrate on something in your environment and direct mental effort toward it is critical for learning new things, achieving goals, and performing well across a wide variety of situations.

Whether you are trying to finish a report at work or competing in a marathon, your ability to focus can mean the difference between success and failure.

Fortunately, focus is a lot like a mental muscle. The more you work on building it up, the stronger it gets.

Improving your mental focus is achievable, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always quick and easy. If it was simple, then we would all have the razor-sharp concentration of an elite athlete.

It will take some real effort on your part and you may have to make some changes to some of your daily habits.

Some tips and tricks from psychology that can help you develop laser-like mental focus and concentration.

Before you start working toward improving your mental focus, you might want to begin by assessing just how strong your mental focus is at the present moment.

Your Focus Is Good If…
You find it easy to stay alert
You set goals and break tasks up into smaller parts. You take short breaks, then get back to work

Your Focus Needs Work If……
You daydream regularly
You can’t tune out distractions
You lose track of your progress

If the first set of statements seems more your style, then you probably already have fairly good concentration skills, but you could be even stronger with a little practice.

If you identify more with the second set of statements, then you probably need to work on your mental focus quite a bit. It might take some time, but practicing some good habits and being mindful of your distractibility can help.

You need to eliminate distractions to improve on your mental foucus. While it may sound obvious, people often underestimate just how many distractions prevent them from concentrating on the task at hand. Such intrusions might come in the form of a radio blaring in the background or perhaps an obnoxious co-worker who constantly drops by your cubicle to chat.

Minimizing these sources of distraction isn’t always as easy as it sounds. While it might be as simple as turning off the television or radio, you might find it much more challenging to deal with an interrupting co-worker, spouse, child, or roommate.

One way to deal with this is to set aside a specific time and place and request to be left alone for that period of time. Another alternative is to seek out a calm location where you know you will be able to work undisturbed. The library, a private room in your house, or even a quiet coffee shop might all be good spots to try.

Not all distractions come from outside sources. Exhaustion, worry, anxiety, poor motivation, and other internal disturbances can be particularly difficult to avoid.

A few strategies you might want to try to minimize or eliminate such internal distractions are to make sure you are well-rested prior to the task and to use positive thoughts and imagery to fight off anxiety and worry. If you find your mind wandering toward distracting thoughts, consciously bring your focus back to the task at hand.

While multitasking may seem like a great way to get a lot done quickly, it turns out that people are actually rather bad at it. Juggling multiple tasks at once can dramatically cut down on productivity and makes it much harder to hone in on the details that are truly important.

Attentional resources are limited so it is important to budget them wisely.

Think of your attention as a spotlight. If you shine that spotlight on one particular area, you can see things very clearly. If you were to try to spread that same amount of light across a large dark room, you might instead only glimpse the shadowy outlines.

Part of improving your mental focus is all about making the most of the resources you have available. Stop multitasking and instead give your full attention to one thing at a time.

Try all you could to always live in the moment. It’s tough to stay mentally focused when you are ruminating about the past, worrying about the future, or tuned out of the present moment for some other reason.

You have probably heard people talk about the importance of “being present.” It’s all about putting away distractions, whether they are physical (your mobile phone) or psychological (your anxieties) and being fully mentally engaged in the current moment.

This notion of being present is also essential for recapturing your mental focus. Staying engaged in the here and now keeps your attention sharp and your mental resources honed in on the details that really matter at a specific point in time.

It may take some time but work on learning to truly live in the moment. You cannot change the past and the future has not happened yet, but what you do today can help you avoid repeating past mistakes and pave a path for a more successful future.

Researchers have found that even taking very brief breaks by shifting your attention elsewhere can dramatically improve mental focus.

So the next time you are working on a prolonged task, such as preparing your taxes or studying for an exam, be sure to give yourself an occasional mental break.

Shift your attention to something unrelated to the task at hand, even if it is only for a few moments. These short moments of respite might mean that you are able to keep your mental focus sharp and your performance high when you really need it.

Building your mental focus is not something that will happen overnight. Even professional athletes require plenty of time and practice in order to strengthen their concentration skills.

One of the first steps is to recognize the impact that being distracted is having on your life. If you are struggling to accomplish your goals and find yourself getting sidetracked by unimportant details, it is time to start placing a higher value on your time.

By building your mental focus, you will find that you are able to accomplish more and concentrate on the things in life that truly bring you success, joy, and satisfaction.

©Adunke Olatunji

Published By: EDITOR

CARL UMEGBORO is a prolific writer, public affairs analyst and an Associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom). He holds a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB Hons) and a renowned columnist in all national newspapers in Nigeria, Africa Press Reviews, TheWorldNEWS and numerous foreign media including Park Chester Times, New York, USA. Umegboro is a regular guest-analyst to many TV and radio programme on crucial national issues. To send your opinions, articles and reports to the Admin, contact: +234 (0) 802 318 4542, +234 (0) 705 710 1974, +234 (0) 817 318 4542. Email: carl@carlumegboro.com, umegborocarl@gmail.com

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