How To Increase Concentration and Become More Productive Concentration is defined as “the action or power of focusing one’s attention or mental effort.” It’s sounds pretty simple when we read the definition, but most of us know that managing the art of concentration is often easier said than done. The struggle to focus your brain on one thing without getting distracted or switching tasks is very real for some of us. There’s a solution for those of us who are concentration challenged, though. It will take some time, dedication and a bit of willpower, but you can become a concentration pro in no time and we’re here to help. To start you on the right path, we’ve gathered some great tips for you whether you’re looking for help locking in your focus at home, school or work. Let’s get this concentration party started! How to Improve Concentration The average person needs to concentrate frequently throughout a regular day. You might want to call upon this super power when you’re cleaning your house, cooking a complicated recipe, reading a book, studying for a test, hustling to get some work done and/or working on a DIY project. However, concentrating can be tough. Try these easy exercises when you find yourself struggling with your ability to concentrate on one thing at a time. 1. Figure out what to concentrate on. One of the very first things you can do to improve your concentration is pinpointing the things you want/need to actually channel your concentration efforts into. You’re fighting a losing battle if you don’t select one specific thing to focus on at a time. Making a list of tasks is a really good way to narrow down what it is that you need or want to concentrate on. First, write down everything you need to do followed by the remaining things you’d like to accomplish. Next, you’ll want to prioritize everything on your list in order of importance, difficulty level or time required to do so. Having a list gives you more than just a starting point, though. A list can also help you stay on point after each task is completed. It’s usually this sliver of time when you’re looking for your next chore when you begin to lose the hold on your concentration. Use your list to avoid getting distracted and wasting time. Once you’ve found your target you can begin the process of shutting everything else out and wrestling with your mind to keep it focused on the task at hand. This may make your brain hurt a bit and you may work up a bit of a mental sweat during the early days giving your concentration skills a work out. 2. Limit distractions. Cut down on as many external distractions as possible before sitting down to flex your concentration muscles. Hold off on checking your emails until you’re done with your list, setting your phone to “do not disturb” and letting your friends, family or co-workers know your in the zone. It’s super easy to get sidetracked by these mundane little things, which is a slippery slope to fully losing the hold you have on your focus. So, it’s important to control the urge to refresh Facebook, play the message flashing on your voicemail or answer that text from your girlfriend about happy hour. If you find it distraction to ignore your distractions, go ahead and set aside a time to take care of them each day (or, right before you have to concentrate on something). You can take care of these things before you get down to business if you think it will help or you can save them for when you’ve checked off a certain number of tasks on your list. 3. Water your brain. A commonly overlooked aid to your concentration skills comes in the form of the things you are putting into your body on a daily basis. There’s one simple thing you can do to fuel your body and mind in an effort to sharpen your focus. Check out this simple, brain-boosting hack. Start off your new concentration centered diet with water. Lots and lots of water. Seriously, tap into your inner camel and drink up. Many of us don’t drink enough water and are dehydrated on some level without realizing it. This is especially common when you’re busy at work, school or have a demanding home life. Dehydration is a nemesis to your concentration and can really throw a wrench into your focus. Your brain thrives on being well-hydrated, and it needs an appropriate amount of water to work at its best. If your encephalon doesn’t get the proper amount of lubrication you might start feeling pretty bad. Before you know it, you’re tired, a tad grumpy, sluggish and maybe even feel a bit ill. Needless to say, it’s a little hard to concentrate when you’re fighting the urge to take a nap, punch someone or toss your cookies. Combat all of these things by filling up your water bottle and drinking the right amount of water for your weight and activity level. Bonus tip: It turns out that your mom was right… Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Starting your day with a healthy, well-rounded breakfast is a great way to fire up your brain for all the work it’s got ahead of it. Load your first meal up with brain healthy foods like nuts, whole-grains, fresh fruits and protein. You can also keep similar snacks on hand all day for an added brain boost for those times you feel your brain power stutter a bit. 4. Balance your energy. Your energy level actually has a lot more to do with your ability to concentrate than even we thought. There are some pretty cool things that you can do to harness your energy and find the right balance for your concentration needs. All you need is a bit of space and a few spare minutes. Most of us go straight to coffee or Red Bull when in need of an energy boost. This is fine sometimes and always in moderation. However, chugging caffeine can actually have the opposite effect on your concentration and may cause you to feel jittery and slightly spastic. Obviously, neither of those things are a friend to concentration. So, approach the coffee pot with caution and know when to call it a day. Use exercise as a more effective means to increase and harness your energy. Cardio workouts are great for kicking your brain into high gear and will enable you to really focus when you’re done. You can hit the gym before you need to tap into your concentration power and/or introduce it to your daily routine as a way to maintain the focus. You can also do a few quick exercises without having to hit the gym. Try jogging in place, stretching, jumping jacks or a quick yoga sequence. All that matters is that you get your blood pumping, so have fun with it and do whatever works for you. Another energy balancing trick is called “double breathing,” and it’s so helpful you’ll wonder why you never tried it before. Double breathing is a technique often used in yoga as it helps to get oxygen cranking through your bloodstream, which helps your brain really get to work. Here’s how to practice double breathing: “short inhalation through the nose, followed by a long one; then a short and long exhalation through the mouth and nose.” You can also check out this little video to see the double breathing technique first hand. It may feel a bit weird to practice at first, but give it a shot and see if it helps. 5. Allow your brain downtime Being able to concentrate on particular tasks doesn’t mean that your brain doesn’t need and deserve some downtime. In fact, it’s a good way to enhance the improvement to your concentration. So, sit down for a spell and allow your mind some time each day to simply drift towards whatever list of worries, hopes and things to do you have had on the back burner. We like to set aside a small bit of time to let our brains wander each afternoon after accomplishing some concentration heavy tasks. It allows your mind to relax a bit after so much hard work and acts kind of like reward in a sense. This downtime also serves as way to jump start the whole focus process again so that the remaining tasks are able to be tackled with a refreshed mind.