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Improving Your Concentration and Attention

by | Professional Development

Many factors influence your concentration and attention. Some of those factors are health-related and others are more about forming habits. Luckily, both of these factors are within your control (to an extent), which means so is your ability to concentrate. First, it’s important to be aware of the health aspects which aid in your concentration and your overall well-being. With some changes to your diet, exercise, and sleep cycles, you can be on the road to improved concentration in no time.

Health practices that increase concentration.

Of the multiple changes you can make to improve your concentration, a select few have to do with health. From diet to exercise to sleep, these lifestyle changes will help you become more focused:

  • Get enough rest (most adults need at least 7-8 hours a night). Being sleep deprived has a negative effect on your ability to focus and hold your attention on a single task. 
  • Try getting more exercise (this will help improve sleep, too). Exercising allows your body to release energy that may be making you fidgety or scatterbrained.
  • Add variety to your diet. More specifically, add in brain-boosting foods and cut back on greasy, sugary, and overly processed foods.
  • Drink coffee (or any caffeinated beverage). Caffeine is shown to enhance your focus.
  • Supplement your diet with vitamins and nutrients. Similar to the foods that can support your ability to focus, supplements like folate, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin K are also effective.

Aside from these health tips that aid in concentration and attention, establishing health habits can help, too.

Habits that help you hold your concentration.

Forming productive habits—such as performing brain-training exercises—is a fantastic way to improve your concentration. But before you start doing brain exercises, you should consider adopting the following practices:

  • Surround yourself with nature and plants regularly (especially in your workspace). 
  • Take a tech break. Check your e-mail less frequently and stop looking at your social media accounts. Consider turning off the notifications of your most distracting applications. 
  • Keep your space organized and comfortable. Personalizing your workspace is shown to boost productivity.
  • Change the sounds of your surroundings. Listen to classical music or ambient sounds from nature. 
  • Choose different scents. Whether you use a candle, incense, or essential oils, smells play a role in your productivity.
  • Take some time for meditation. If you’re not sure how or when to meditate, here’s a beginner’s guide.

In addition to enhancing your concentration and productivity, these habits will boost your mood and patience, too. If you already have a productive and calm workspace, full of great sights and smells, try brain training!

Cognitive conditioning for improved concentration.

Image of someone doing a jigsaw puzzle.

While setting yourself up for success by organizing and customizing your workspace is effective, nothing beats exercising your brain! There are hundreds of ways you can give your brain the workout it needs to thrive. Here are a few exercises to start:

  • Play a game of chess (with a friend or a computer).
  • Do brain games like crossword puzzles, word searches, or Sudoku. 
  • Put together a jigsaw puzzle. For a fun twist, time yourself. Then, try to improve your speed every time you put the same puzzle together. 
  • Challenge your brain with memory games. Here are some fun options.
  • Draw a map of your town or the layout of your office from memory.

If you don’t have puzzles, chess, or paper and a pen handy, try looking to your surroundings for practice. For example, when you go to your favorite grocery store, create a mental route for your shopping. Think of the store’s layout and the items you need. Next, try to brainstorm the most efficient route from the entrance to the aisle to the checkout line.

You can celebrate your shopping game with another game: Grocery Trunk Tetris™. Organize your groceries as you place them in your cargo area, in order of what needs to be put away first (frozen and refrigerated items). And if you’re not interested in games, simply being mindful of your surroundings and senses is proven to improve concentration.

When you find the time to do these cognitive exercises, enjoy yourself! Remember the reason you’re doing them: for increased concentration and focus. If you keep that goal in mind, you’ll be able to maintain your attention on one subject for longer and longer periods of time. And don’t forget—practice makes perfect! The more you train your brain, the better it will become.

Another fantastic exercise to build focus, attention, and concentration is calming yourself down in times of chaos. If you struggle with relaxing when the world feels like it’s spinning around you, check out our blog “Finding Calm in a Crisis.”

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