In order for us to progress in life, we have to keep developing our skills, and learn new ones as well. If you have found your way here, you are most likely looking at ways to improve yourself, and I am happy to say that you have come to the right address. One of the stables of effective learning is proper focus.
It is impossible to learn a new skill if you don’t focus on the work and apply yourself. Your ability to concentrate on tasks that get you closer to your goals is a direct measure of how successful you will become in your life.
Luckily for you, focus is very similar to your muscles. There are certain methods and exercises you can employ to strengthen your focus. However, just as real muscle development, it will take time and consistent effort to sharpen your focus skills. Having a focused personality is a great character trait to have and well worth the effort.
So let’s delve into 6 ways that you can use that will sharpen your focus!
1. Improve Your Sleep
Before you even think about sharpening your focus, you need a proper sleeping routine! Lack of sleep is one of the main factors that destroys our ability to focus. If I don’t get my 8 hours of sleep, my ability to focus and work productively decreases by as much as 50% during the afternoon hours!
It is important to have a consistent sleeping schedule. It is irrelevant at what time you go to bed and at what time you wake up. It just has to be consistent. So if you want to go to bed at 3 am and wake up at 11 o’clock, then that is perfectly fine. Just make sure you are doing this everyday!
Having the occasional lapse in sleep schedule will not pose many problems, as long as you catch up on your sleep the next night.
Absorbing information and developing new skills takes a lot of energy from our brain. If we don’t allow our mind to recover, you will never remember or be able to utilize that which you have learned.
Here are some ways you can use to improve your sleep:
- Stop using electronic devices 1 hour before you sleep
- Don’t eat anything anymore 2 hours before you sleep
- Ensure that your room is at a comfortable temperature
- Make sure to decrease your emotional stress
- Exercise regularly and watch your diet
2. Exercise & Diet
We have all heard that physical exercise is also mental exercise, and it is certainly true. Studies have shown that daily physical exercise can increase your concentration and attention span. On top of that, the same study was able to prove that memory loss was less likely to occur in those why employed a regular exercise routine into their daily schedule.
By daily exercise I don’t mean that you have to go all out everyday in the gym. A simple 30 minute to 1 hour walk in your local park is just as effective in providing you with these mental boosts. The time at which you do the exercise can also influence your productivity levels.
It is always a good idea to take breaks when you are working on difficult tasks, mainly because they aid your productivity. During these breaks is the best time for you to go out on a walk. If you take 4 15 minute breaks and go out for a walk, it is equivalent to 1 hour of daily physical exercise.
Having a healthy diet is also crucial for your focus. Not only will it help you get the most out of your exercise, it will also allow you to properly sleep. As I mentioned before your brain uses a lot of energy to absorb knowledge and gain skills. It will do that much more effectively if it is fueled by healthy foods!
3. Get An Idea On Your Current Levels Of Focus
Before you decide to work on anything in life, it is always a smart idea to to understand where you currently are in that particular area. Trying to sharpen your focus is no different. There are several questions you can ask your self that will determine your levels of focus. These mental exercises really help you dig deep and find the truth that you are looking for.
If your focus levels are really bad, you will often:
- Daydream on a regular basis
- Inability to commit to a long term goal, as you get side tracked by other interests
- You get distracted easily and hence always lose track of progress.
Good levels of focus are of course opposite to the above points, but may also include things like you taking a small break from work but not finding it difficult to get back to work.
4. Mindfulness Meditation And Journaling
Mindfulness is the art that teaches us to live in the moment. Mindfulness meditation is an especially powerful tool that allows us to really develop our focusing skills. Let me explain exactly how mindfulness meditation works and why it is so effective.
15 minutes before you go to bed, you should do this meditation. All you will do is set a 15 minute timer on your phone, and sit or lay down on your bed. All you have to do is just sit or lay there. Now during these 15 minutes, you have to be in the moment. Focus on your breathing, or notice the feelings you have on your skin. I guarantee you that at some point your mind will start to wander and daydream about whatever.
The real key from mindfulness mediation is that whenever you realize that your mind is astray and no longer focusing on the moment, that you have to bring your mind back to the now. In the span of 15 minutes, you might have to do this 50 times. Don’t worry if your mind wanders off a lot, it is very normal for beginners.
The act of bringing your mind back to the presence strengthens your ability to focus. As I mentioned before, your focus is like a muscle and mindfulness mediation is the best exercise to get that muscle to grow stronger.
Mindfulness journalism can also be equally effective. This is when you write down about what you are feeling in the moment. It strengthens your minds connection with the present. Often times people will write about all the things they are grateful for, and it can be easily combined with the mindfulness meditations!
5. Eliminate Distractions
One of the main things that causes us to lose focus when working on tasks is distractions within our environment. A big example I used to encounter all day when I was studying at the library was with people who studied with their phone on the table. They would be working on their course material, and as soon as their phone would light up with a message, they would drop their pen and start playing with their phone.
Often times when we are on our phones to check a simple message, we lose another 30 minutes on Instagram of Facebook videos. It is a very inefficient use of our time. So why not just put the phone in your backpack. If you use the 50/10 method to study, you can check your phone for important or urgent messages in your break. But make sure you limit all your distractions when you are working on achieving your goals.
6. Practice Makes perfect
All of the above methods are great if you want to become a more focused individual. However, you won’t see any changes if you don’t actively practice all them on a daily basis. If you find all this information too overwhelming, then I understand. I suggest you then take one of the above methods and start focusing just on that one for about a month.
Keep a journal so that you are able to track your progress. Make sure you set a proper goal, and you will sharpen your focus without a doubt. Like everything worth achieving in life, this will take time. So allow yourself some before you worry that it is not working.
I hope you enjoyed the read and wish you all the best on your journey to success!