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How to improve your focus and increase your concentration

Productivity 3 min read

Noisli - How to increase your focus and concentration

Being able to focus and concentrate on a task is essential in order to do any kind of work, and it’s important to consider that your ability to focus highly depends on the length of your attention span. Researchers have studied the attention span of average adults and found that adults have a natural attention span of around 20 minutes. This means that your mind naturally seeks a break after concentrating on something for 20 minutes.

20 minutes aren’t really that much, so it’s even more important to make every one of them count! Unfortunately though, most of the time we even struggle to stay concentrated for this short period of time.

The reasons why you can’t focus on a task can be many, as several factors can negatively influence your ability to concentrate. Sometimes the root cause can be solved easily, whereas other times you might have to put in some more effort.

Undoubtedly, one of the main reasons for your inability to focus is because you’re constantly interrupted by external or internal distractions. External distractions come from the environment around you, and it’s important to know what kind of outside distractions pose a potential risk to your focus and how you can minimize them. On the other hand, internal distractions come from your mind, and if un-trained, your mind can wanders around a lot: about 46% of your awake time!

Luckily, there are some techniques that you can learn in order to help you train and increase your focus so you will be able to stay concentrated for longer periods of time.

The Spider Technique

The Spider technique is very simple and straightforward. Inspired by the behaviour of spiders, this method teaches you to not pay attention to the distractions around you.
If you hold a vibrating tuning fork next to a spider web, the spider will come out because it thinks there is prey. If you repeat this over and over, finally the spider won’t come out anymore as it has learnt that there will be no prey waiting for him.

Working in sessions – The Pomodoro Technique

As we’ve learned, our mind isn’t capable of staying concentrated for long periods of time and naturally seeks a break after a certain amount of time. The most natural way of working is therefore to divide your workload into small chunks, so to work in sessions, divided by frequent breaks in-between.
This method is called the Pomodoro technique and the goal is to get you as quickly as possible into the zone and achieve a state of flow.
Typically, each session lasts 25 minutes and is followed by a 5-minute break. After 4 sessions you should take a longer final break of 15 minutes.
As the session and break durations can be adapted to your needs, the Pomodoro technique is a highly flexible and customizable way of working.

The Fishing Line Technique

The Fishing line technique is a productivity method that helps you train your mind to hold your train of thoughts for as long as possible and so to get to something concrete.
The technique compares the idea generation process with fishing, where it’s important to hold tension on the line once a fish takes the bait, otherwise you can easily lose the fish.
Whenever you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with creative ideas, it’s important that you work from a distraction-free environment so that, as soon as an idea pops up, you are ready and able to keep that tension on the line.

Take Breaks

Lastly, in order to train your focus, you need to train yourself to take breaks. Slowing down and taking enough breaks might sound counterproductive, but breaks are just as important as the time you spend focusing on a task.
Without taking proper breaks, you will not be able to refuel your energy and you risk burning out sooner or later. Taking frequent breaks has a lot of benefits, from helping you to reduce stress and lift your mood to actively contributing to your mental and physical health.
There are many ways to take effective breaks during your work and study, so don’t skip them and try to take your breaks as seriously as you do for your focus time.

Written by Sabine

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