Princeton University defines “concentration” as “great and constant diligence and attention” and “focus” as “the concentration of attention or energy on something.”
To be sure, concentration and focus are two different animals, but they’re animals frolicking in the same jungle- your mind.
Simply, concentration is your attention and focus is your aiming of it.
Unfortunately, many people confronted with change find the experience frazzling. They note that their concentration levels drop and their ability to focus wanes. For many, this is the result of frustration, and while it can be an obstacle, it’s not insurmountable.
The key to harnessing your concentration and focus levels again is to gain a working understand of what these two concepts are and apply a few simple rules each time you adopt a new task:
Enter your project with a clear head.
Temporarily drop anything that may be bogging your mind and fill the extra space with objectives and plans to complete your task. Having a clear understanding of what you need to do can save you time and spare you more frustration. Consider cleaning or reorganizing the space in which you plan on working before engaging in the task. Clearing your work area can have the added benefit of helping to clear your mind.
Choose a suitable environment.
Having the right atmosphere is imperative to getting things done. Some people require frills like warm, soft lighting and music and calming scents to help them focus. For most though, picking a great environment in which to concentrate simply depends on finding a quiet, comfortable place disconnected from people and things that can act as distractions.
In our modern age, this is easier said than done. But it’s possible. Phones, computers and televisions and other external devices are the obvious offenders, but also account for individual-specific distractions. What is it that breaks your concentration? Is it a pile of laundry? A To-do list on your refrigerator? A loud clock? Get rid of anything that makes your ability to concentrate and focus difficult, even if it’s as simple as positioning yourself away from doors and windows. Remember that out of sight really is out of mind sometimes.
Think of yourself as a kid.
Sounds silly, right? It’s not. You wouldn’t expect a child’s unwavering concentration or focus on a task for hours at a time, so why hold yourself to expectations that high? Enter a task fully aware that the average attention span of an adult is approximately 20 minutes. Allot yourself the necessary time to relax in intervals. Add that time to the projected time for task completion to give yourself a little mental leeway throughout your projects.
Reward yourself between breaks.
Find ways to treat yourself and rejuvenate your mind while resting. Get a drink, a snack or allow yourself a small amount of time to engage in one of the previously identified distractions (as long as there isn’t a chance that you will be consumed by it). Remind yourself that you have only X number of things to do before the task is completed. This will help you keep your eye on the prize and avoid procrastination.
Know that procrastination is an enemy in disguise.
Many people consider procrastination to be an ally. They trick themselves into thinking that procrastination is actually time management. After all, you’ll get around to the task eventually, right? Wrong! There is quite a difference between prioritizing tasks and neglecting them until they can no longer go undone. Procrastination usually means that work left until the last minute will suffer. In areas where great concentration and focus are required to accomplish a task, thoughts can be muddied by worry, stress and even irritation. All of these can result in lackluster results.
Everyone has their own biorhythmic clock. If you find that certain times of the day work are more conducive for concentration and focus for you, by all means, listen to your body set a schedule. Keep your body running on optimum by providing it with an adequate amount of sleep and ease up on agents that can potentially damage your concentration levels like junk food, drugs and alcohol.
A huge misconception about concentration and focus is that they’re effortless. In reality, concentrating and focusing requires just as much energy as the task requiring them. You have to be aware of your need for them to complete your task. Use this tips to clear your head, accomplish your goals and put frustration behind you once and for all.
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