At the beginning of my grade twelve school year, I was determined to accomplish my goal of getting a scholarship at my top school.
I also wanted to make the most of my last year with my friends and the environment that I had grown so comfortable in.
My goals, emotions, and visions of my last year all mixed together and formed something similar to a big adrenaline rush that lasted almost the entire year.
I took on the challenge of maintaining a high average, being involved, making memories, and giving my all to everything I set my mind to.
There were times where my focus on school work came so easily that I was able to study information for my law class and write complex essays without being distracted at all.
I would sit at my desk for hours, taking one or two breaks in between to grab some food and an iced coffee, and then get right back into my work with complete ease.
Yes, I was able to focus that easy!
In fact, I distinctly remember there being one weekend where I wrote over 60 pages of readers’ notes on Crime and Punishment for my AP English class. All the external distractions of text messages and social media disappeared.
Likewise, all possible internal distractions of daydreaming about my possible prom dress options flew out the window.
Flash forward to the present day.
Even though I am studying material that I love, I have discovered that it has become especially difficult to concentrate on my work.
It is exasperating to settle down and focus on something when the chaos of the world seems to constantly demand my attention.
Text messages, checking my email, catching up on social media, thoughts about a good restaurant five minutes away from me, and what my plans are this Friday all linger in my head instead of the work right in front of me that needs to be completed.
Does anyone else find it a little more difficult to sit down and read a book or take a walk around your neighbourhood without your phone?
Due to technology and the various other components of our life that appear to need our focus, it has become more and more difficult to accomplish the tasks that are not as exciting or motivating.
However, as a student aiming to keep a high GPA like many others, it is crucial that I work towards improving my concentration so that I can get the results I want.
So, mastering how to enhance our focus will make the tasks we need to complete every day that much more easy and productive! So what can be done?
After some serious reflection and research, I compiled seven ways on how to improve your concentration that everyone should know and apply to their lives!
Rethink your Environment
Personally, this is the most significant way you can improve your concentration.
I have spoken about it before, but I’ll say it again: your work space and the environment you choose play a major role in your level of concentration.
You need to find an environment that suits your needs and will keep you motivated and on-task.
Optimally, the best environment for focusing is one that has a lot of natural light, an organized workspace and has other people working productively.
I have discovered that working at Starbucks (or any cafe or in a study room) with other people silently completing their tasks encourages me to stay focused and not get distracted.
Ultimately, seeing other people being productive increases your productivity which will fortify your attention on your work and limit disruptions.
So, find an environment that works for you. Maybe you need greenery, silence, some white noise, music, an isolated workspace, or a certain kind of atmosphere.
If you want to maintain focus, it is your environment that will have the most impact on you!
Make a List and Set Goals
You’ve probably been told this before, but making a list of the tasks you need to complete for the week or the day establishes exactly what needs to be done on paper.
Taking information that may be cluttered in your brain and organizing them onto a piece of paper defines your responsibilities.
Pro Tip: Organize your list into categories! When possible, divide your tasks into sections like these:
- Must – Do
- Should – Do
- Want To Do
This is helpful because it includes a want to do section, hence not making your life seem like an infinite list of chores. (That will just make you want to stay away from what needs to be done!)
A want to do section satisfies your personal needs apart from the tasks you must and should complete. It can include buying an outfit, organizing your closet, or calling your cousin.
Additionally, it is oh-so satisfying to be able to cross things off the list as you complete them! At the end of your chosen timeframe, you will have a paper of all your mini and large accomplishments you fulfilled!
Not only is a list a great way to motivate yourself to focus, but it is a great way to keep yourself, your thoughts and your tasks in check.
Although this may seem a bit counterintuitive, rewarding yourself with breaks in between your tasks actually enhances your focus.
Look at it this way: working for a long period of time with zero breaks will make it harder to focus because you are not giving yourself a moment to breathe and relax.
Even if you have been able to study or work for hours straight in the past, it is crucial that you recognize that taking breaks in between your work is not disruptive or harmful to what you are doing. You will find that after taking a break, you will be more ready to get back into the task at hand.
For a stretch of time (every 45 to 60 minutes), strongly dedicate yourself to your work and then pause for ten to fifteen minutes. Then, repeat.
When done correctly, you will be ready to get back to your work and put in solid effort.
Pro Tip: Set a timer for when each break is! This will ensure that you are completely focused on your work and not itching to disrupt your workflow to check what the time is.
Improve Your Sleep and Wake Up Early
It’s no secret that sleep deprivation is linked to disrupted attention and concentration levels! Getting a good amount of sleep will effectively amplify your focus.
Various pieces of research highlight that sleepiness can:
- Slow down your thought process
- Lower your alertness
- Make learning information difficult
- Affect your ability to filter information
- Make us more easily confused
So, get a good eight hours of sleep so that your focus and concentration can be at its prime!
Next, waking up early has a multitude of benefits! One of the most significant benefits is that it gives yourself time to plan out your day in a more relaxed setting.
Waking up early will make you more productive and alert so you are more likely to push through your tasks and accomplish them much more easily and faster than if you were to wake up later and be forced to rush or stress about finishing on time.
In addition, your brain tends to have peak alertness during morning hours so there is literally no better time to fulfill your tasks! It is also linked to better decision making throughout the day so you can put your best foot forward in terms of your work and personal tasks.
Enjoy Your Free Time
As I mentioned, the world we live in is chaotic and busy. During the time we are free, we tend to not simply live in the moment.
Instead, we pull out our phones to check up on Instagram or catch up on celebrity or sports gossip. Sometimes, this is done unconsciously. I know I sometimes go on my phone and will have a conversation with someone at lunch or even while watching a movie!
When we have some free time, we should limit those distractions so that we can more easily apply ourselves to our work without the desire to check on our phones all the time.
Try reading a book to enhance your concentration instead of reading celebrity gossip or news feeds online! Or, listen to music or close your eyes when you’re waiting in line at the dentist or waiting for your friend to pick you up to go to the movies.
You will discover that you will become more engaged as you exercise concentration and thoughtful tasks throughout the day. Instead of opening and closing instagram to find something good (I know that’s not just me!) enjoy the moment of downtime you have.
View Each Task Differently
Comparing how you are working on one task to how you worked on another is a big mental block that can limit your productivity and attention to the task at hand.
Just because you are working more slowly or need to put in more effort into one task does not mean you are not doing well. It is important that we realize that no two tasks are the same and that we should not compare our progress or lack thereof with our past experiences or those of others.
Instead, block out these little distractions that tell us that we are doing something too slow during a project. Do what works for you and remember it will be different each time.
But what does this have to do with concentration?
Well, remembering that each project is different takes away all comparisons and expectations we have for ourselves that can stress us out and make the process of maintaining focus stressful.
In fact, have you ever been so stressed by completing a task that you just ignored it altogether? Likewise, removing these stresses will push you forward in your work instead of hindering you.
The Most Important Factor: Have A Goal
The truth is that our lives are busy. We have distractions, desires, and often better things to do than what really needs to be accomplished.
Technology has both positively improved and negatively altered our lives, and with it, our attention spans.
But you know what beats that? A goal.
Our goals have the potential to rise above the distractions of technology and the other components of our lives.
It was through my goal and me challenging myself to make the most of my grade twelve year by focusing on my academic and social life that I was able to see results and experience exponential focus.
An objective pushes us forward to new lengths, efforts and levels of attention. How else would I have been able to write a 60 page analysis on Crime and Punishment in the span of two days?
Time to Do Your Best Work!
Find your goal, apply these methods and let your focus blossom naturally.
By working to enhance my concentration through these methods, I hope you can find ease when you are starting a project and satisfaction when it is completed in the end.
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Thanks for reading!