14 Mental Habits for Increased Focus
Anyone who has tried to concentrate on a difficult or boring piece of work will know how tough it can be, but science has some counter-intuitive findings that could help.
The internet is bursting with advice on how to concentrate amid a sea of distractions. But many of them are either wildly unrealistic or leave you out of the office loop and distracted by thoughts of what you might be missing. How many of us can “always find what you do inspiring and fun” or would be comfortable turning off social media, spending the day wearing headphones, or working offline.
The ability to concentrate on something in your environment and direct mental effort toward it is critical for learning new things, achieving goals, and performing well across a wide variety of situations. Whether you are trying to finish a report at work or competing in a marathon, your ability to focus can mean the difference between success and failure.
Fortunately, focus is a lot like a mental muscle. The more you work on building it up, the stronger it gets.
Your brain is simply not equipped to deal with the massive number of ‘shiny objects’ that are perpetually trying to disrupt your focus.
Learning to become the master of your brain instead of its slave is no easy task.
But, with a few simple hacks, you can quickly take charge of your mind and develop laser-like focus.
1. Start the morning with meditation
To be able to maintain high levels of focus during your day you must prime your mind and brain upon waking. Meditation provides a platform for your brain to think clearer and make faster and better decisions while enabling you to remain focused.
2. Journal for 5 minutes a day
This therapeutic method of building a strong mindset is a great way to understand who you are and what you want. When we are unfocused we tend to drift away from what we really want and who we really are. If you can get into a habit of journaling more often you will find your mind more aligned with your path.
3. Set daily goals
Achieving anything great comes from focus and precision. When we have big goals and dreams to achieve we more often look at the end goal and get the middle messed up because we lack the drive to set daily goals. Setting daily goals will enable you to remain focused and lead your day with intention.
4. Get at least 45 minutes of exercise per day
Neurologically speaking, if focus is a goal of ours we have to maintain good brain health. Exercising released a protein called BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor). This protein promotes the survival of nerve cells (neurons) by playing a role in the growth, maturation (differentiation), and maintenance of these cells.
When you give thanks to anything or anyone your brain immediately gets a surge of serotonin. Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can't feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.
6. Negative thought stopping
Unwanted thoughts can make you feel anxious or depressed and get your focus out of alignment. They may keep you from enjoying your life.
A technique called thought-stopping can help you stop unwanted thoughts.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Create a picture in your mind of a big, bright-red stop sign. The letters on the sign are big and white: STOP. Picture the cars stopping at the sign, waiting patiently until it is their turn to go. Wait for your turn, then take a deep breath and proceed across the road. Are you still thinking that unwanted thought? It will take practice, but with time your brain will do this on its own, which will help you stop unwanted thoughts.
7. Drink at least 3L of water per day
This goes without say. If there is ONE tool you can give your brain and body to be better immediately it is drinking more water. When you are dehydrated your brain goes into survival mode and cannot possibly focus or do anything at optimum because it’s main priority is to rehydrate.
8. Use Nootropics
Nootropics and smart drugs are natural or synthetic substances that can be taken to improve mental performance in healthy people. By modulating the production and release of key neurotransmitters including dopamine, glutamate, acetylcholine, norepinephrine and others, nootropics increase the brain’s capacity for concentration and focus.
We can’t always eliminate the things that make it hard to concentrate, but we can change the way our brains react to them. If you’re interested in defusing the anti-focus factors in your life, download our FREE nootropics guide to get a list of some of the best nootropics for focus.
9. Eliminate pointless distractions
Pointless distractions such as the TV on, music running or people talking to you is another way that we get out of focus and why we procrastinate. Manage your life hygiene‒rest, diet and exercise to boost your energy. Turn off the TV (worst known garbage) or better yet, move it to a less frequented room. This usually does the trick. Set up a bedtime routine, which will help you sleep well, and the third must-do is hiring a good private trainer, who will not only motivate you to work out regularly, but also set you up on a good diet. These 3 simple actions will give you a clearer mind and energy to do your work. They will make you appreciate relaxation and physical wellness.
10. Quit social media
t’s not about don’t spend time on Instagram, but just be aware of what it might be doing to you. Constantly checking your email on your smartphone, switching over to Instagram to scroll for a bit, and then opening up Snapchat to make sure you share exactly what you’re doing to your network might make you think you’re good at multitasking. In reality, managing multiple accounts and switching your attention so often and quickly worsens your ability to focus on multiple activities.
11. Sleep between 7-8 hours
no matter how many nootropics for focus that you take, it will not overcome the need for sleep. The short-term repercussions of lacking sleep are well-documented; some studies suggest sleep deprivation is on par with being drunk from alcohol. Check out our guide to getting a great night sleep if you need help sleeping good.
12. Intermittent fasting
When we are in a fasted state, the levels of a number of neurotransmitters involved with focus, attention, alertness, and memory increase.
13. Breath work
A daily Pranayama practice stimulates the body’s natural relaxation response, creating a sense of calm that decreases heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. It also helps you reconnect to your body and shift your awareness away from the chatter in your mind. Because every emotional state we experience has a corresponding pattern of breathing associated with it, when we spend several minutes a day consciously regulating our breath, we break our unconscious patterns of breathing — and thus the unconscious emotional and thought patterns.
14. Use power words
Positive affirmations or “power words” are used by the most successful people in the world first thing in the morning to program the brain to think and feel a certain way. Starting your day off with power words will give you the strength to maintain focus and remind yourself of who you are and what you can achieve!
Never underestimate the power of being able to focus optimally. The strategies listed above should be considered daily and should be done consistently.