How To Improve Concentration (Our Top 10 Tips)
If your consumption of coffee has significantly increased since the start of the pandemic – you’re not alone.
Ever since the world started working from home, everything has moved online. And even though there are so many benefits to taking a more flexible approach to working life, more and more are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer level of intensity that the past 12 months have lumbered us with.
Notifications are constant. Video calls are endless. And we now live and work in the same room and almost all aspects of our lives are consumed through a screen.
The usual balance and harmony that working in the office normally brings have been taken away and it’s not uncommon to feel oversaturated right now.
And we’re seeing this being reflected in our mood, our energy levels, our capacity for creativity and of course, our concentration levels.
So, what’s the answer?
Being able to get out and about again is going to have the biggest impact in terms of our mental wellbeing because we’ll simply have more variety and be able to see our friends and families again. Parents will also get the respite they need to be able to cope better.
In the meantime, here are a few tips for helping you regain some focus while working from home.
Tips for improving focus and concentration
1) Write down how you feel
Emotions are in excess right now and many of us are feeling the stresses and anxieties that the pandemic has thrown at us.
This isn’t a normal situation, so trying to shoehorn normality into an abnormal situation probably isn’t going to work.
One of the kindest things you can do for yourself right now is ask yourself how you are and write it down. This not only gives you the time to acknowledge how you’re feeling but it also helps you to focus your thoughts.
And once you have got everything down, your mind is more free and able to cope with whatever the day has in store.
2) Shorten your to do list
Many are feeling overwhelmed right now and adding a huge, long to-do list on top of everything isn’t going to help matters!
Break up your list into smaller activities and only give yourself one or two at a time. That way your focus isn’t jumping from thing to thing. You literally have one thing to do and that’s it – focus on that.
3) Keep up your lunchtime walks
Walks are a real lifeline right now and getting outside is great for your mental wellbeing – as well as your physical health.
No matter the weather, you will rarely regret heading out and switching up your focus.
Staying in front of your screen all day won’t help you get more done – it might even hinder your productivity as you start to feel burnt out.
4) Nourish your brain
Working from home has its benefits and doing away with squashed sandwiches and bruised bananas is one of them.
Bring happiness to your day with nourishing foods that are good for your brain and give you the vitamins and energy you need to stay focused.
Try new recipes and don’t forget to hydrate with lots of water too!
5) Limit your distractions
Since the start of lockdown, our number of WhatsApp groups, Teams channels and Messenger Chats has gone through the roof. And although it’s nice to have those lines of contact with our friends and social groups, they’re not helping us focus.
Mute the ones that consistently present you with 97 unread messages and limit the amount of apps and media that you have access to throughout the day.
If you’re someone who gets easily distracted by your phone during the day, try apps such as Forest, which are designed to stop you from using your phone when you need to concentrate.
6) Protect your quiet time
We all have a time of day where we work best – granted this isn’t always possible when you have children! But if you can, make sure you protect your quiet time. Avoid meetings and distractions around this time and use it to do your best work.
No human is physically capable of concentrating 100% for a full working day. So use this time to gather your energy, grab a coffee, hide your phone – and/or the kids – and go for it.
7) Don’t try to multitask
Emails, notifications, messages, requests, invites – they’re endless. And it’s so easy now to get halfway through something only to be distracted by something – or someone – else.
Especially working from home, many of us feel the pressure to be ‘always on’ and this means jumping from thing to thing.
Set yourself one task, do that task and limit your access to the outside world while you finish that task.
Getting halfway through something and then hopping between projects and activities will only lengthen the amount of time it would have taken to get everything done in the first place. This is because you inevitably end up wasting time refocusing and trying to find your train of thought.
Stick to one task at a time.
8) Practice mindfulness
Pandemic or no pandemic, mindfulness and meditation are really useful tools. They’re relaxing to do, but their main job is to bring you into the present and help you focus. That way, your mind doesn’t get lost in old memories, imaginary conversations and anxieties about the future.
Bring your brain back to where it needs to be – with you in the here and now.
Even just a few minutes here and there is enough to give you that regular check-in time where you close your laptop and take 5 minutes to yourself.
And there is a myriad of apps out there now to help you – Calm and Headspace being the most comprehensive of these.
9) Take regular breaks
Not just mental breaks but physical breaks to walk around, stretch, get a cup of tea, have a wander around the garden – or whatever you feel like doing.
Working from home can feel very intense as we don’t get the same pacing that we would back in the office. It leaves room for us to be more productive, but it also leaves the door wide open for potential burnout as our level of output has increased dramatically.
Draw out a schedule and make sure you get a short break in-between all those video calls and project meetings.
10) Take some time to be unavailable
Everything is online right now and it’s almost as if we’re expected to be available all the time. Employees are answering emails late at night, constantly pinging messages, getting notifications and generally feeling the underlying pressure to prove that we’re being busy and productive.
Make sure you take some time to yourself where you’re completely switched off and unavailable to the world and its demands. You’ll get more out of it than you realise!
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