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Having optimal concentration for what you are doing ensures better results and in a shorter time. This applies to both performing a task and learning. It is also essential for achieving one's life goals. And at any age, it is possible to improve concentration for better performance.
What is concentration?
Concentration can be illustrated in several ways. It is the ability of a person to maintain full attention on a task, person or object in a sustained and continuous manner. It can also be defined as the ability to focus one's mind on a single object for a more or less indefinite period of time.Others would also speak of the ability to develop observation skills. In short,concentration enables a person to avoid distraction from his or her environment while performing a task. The person is said to be "focused","absorbed" in what he or she is doing. Concentration is also the act of directing one's mental efforts towards one thing. It is a form of attention,but to a greater degree. It is the act of focusing on a specific task over a period of time until it is completed.
The extraordinary thing about concentration is that it acts as a kind of insulator. Thus, the consciousness filters the information it receives and takes only that which is useful for the accomplishment of the task, or for reflection. It closes the consciousness to anything that might distract the mind from its object. It is thanks to concentration that a student, for example, can only hear his teacher despite external noise.Moreover, concentration facilitates and accelerates the processing of information.
Disruptors of concentration
Concentration problems or difficulties can occur at any time in life, although some factors have more impact than others.
Poor or difficult concentration can manifest itself in a number of ways: regular forgetting of things, which is readily attributed to memory problems, inability to carry out a task over a long period of time or needing more time to complete it, difficulty following a conversation or reading, being easily distracted...
This can be the result of several extrinsic and intrinsic factors: noise, social networks, fatigue, illness, intrusive thoughts, stress, anxiety... But it is always possible to improve concentration.
How can you improve your concentration?
A drop in or lack of concentration affects academic results,professional performance, but also other areas of life such as relationships and everyday life. That is why it is essential to take action when concentration deteriorates or fails. Like any mental tool, it is possible to improve concentration.
Have a healthy lifestyle
Fatigue, or even exhaustion, is a factor that leads to various health and cognitive problems, including reduced or difficult concentration. It is not always necessary to use food supplements to improve it. Just make sure you have a healthy diet and get enough sleep.
Take physical exercise
As concentration is a cognitive function, you can increase your ability to concentrate by doing regular physical exercise. Indeed, when you move, you improve the circulation and oxygenation of your brain, thus facilitating this function.
List and prioritise tasks
Whether it's for a short or long term project, the day or a particular task, get into the habit of listing and planning. Set goals for yourself for a given period of time. This will make you more efficient and focused. As Walt Disney said: "Setting a goal often results in a deep and abrupt takeover".
Also assess the difficulty of the tasks and prioritise them.If possible, start with the ones that would be the most difficult while you are still fresh and rested. You will also be more focused and will find it easier to get through them.
Take care of your environment
Eliminate as much as possible from your environment any source of external distraction: radio, TV, telephone, unnecessary windows such as social networks, etc. External stimuli put the brain on alert and reduce its ability to concentrate. If you work from home, set up a quiet work space. And make sure you are not disturbed for a certain period of time. Also make sure you work in a well-ventilated space. Confinement reduces your cognitive abilities due to lack of oxygen.
Get yourself in mental condition
Imitate the athletes who are preparing for a race: before they get on the track, they have taken the time to warm up. So, before you start any task, especially an intellectual one, get yourself in mental condition. Soothe the chatter of your thoughts by taking deep breaths. This will help you to relax physically and prepare your brain to concentrate gradually. You can also use visualisation.
One task at a time
Do you tend to think that multitasking saves you time? You probably feel that you have accomplished several things, but your productivity may be reduced. For better concentration, you need all your resources. So avoid spreading your attention too thin by focusing on one thing at a time.
Control your thoughts
When your mind wanders or is distracted by distracting thoughts, write them down so that your brain doesn't get distracted for long periods of time from the task you are doing. And also note that you will pay attention to it after a set period of time. This way your brain does not perceive it as a refusal. A refusal to give in decreases your concentration.Then take control by consciously getting back to what you have to do: close your eyes, take a deep breath and bring your attention back to the task.
Manage your emotions
It is also difficult to concentrate when you are not living in the moment: stop mentally reliving (rumination) past events or thinking about what tomorrow might be like (worry and anxiety). Learn to manage your emotions with methods that suit you: meditation, brain reprogramming, coaching,sophrology, hypnosis, NLP...
Persevere in your efforts
Concentration, like any other cerebral tool, develops when you work on it. Are you having trouble keeping up? Force yourself to extend your working time a little more. Increase your working time little by little.There's no need to go overboard: one minute longer than usual is more than enough. Your brain will register this new performance and make it easier for you to try again when you extend your working time.
Give yourself breaks
No matter how hard you try to stay focused, your brain needs a break to remain responsive to stimulation. So plan a mental break, even for a few moments when you are planning to do something long. You can momentarily turn your attention to something else. But you can also take a moment to air out while doing some stretching to get rid of any muscle tension.
You may lack concentration when you are not motivated for what you have to do. So find ways to motivate yourself by looking for new interests in what you have to do. You can also praise and reward yourself with something that gives you relative pleasure. And this is for tasks that are completed within a given time frame. Yes, find other sources of motivation.
Even if thousands of thoughts run through your mind everyday, your ability to focus on one of them with a specific purpose can make it extraordinarily powerful. Concentration is something that can be worked on and strengthened by practising it on a daily basis. However, certain psychological disorders require more appropriate treatment. So don't hesitate to approach professionals for guidance.