Struggling to focus or concentrate?
Discover how to focus better in this comprehensive guide, in which we have looked at and included twelve proven ways for improving concentration on tasks.
When you need to finish an important task, there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to focus and concentrate.
This can be even worse when you have a deadline and the clock is ticking!
You are not alone, however. The “3 pm slump” is real (a natural result of our circadian rhythms) and mental fatigue can only increase as the week goes on.
Thankfully, there are numerous ways that we can improve concentration and learn to focus better.
These methods that we have listed are 100% natural, all guaranteed to improve focus and overall productivity - no matter whether you need to study, work, or complete a mentally demanding task!
Why Can’t I Focus?
First of all, why is it so hard to focus?
There is no single answer, as it is different for everyone. It could be one reason or several reasons having a negative effect on your ability to concentrate.
The obvious reasons might be a lack of sleep, feelings of stress, or being too easily distracted.
Other reasons can be a poor diet, lack of physical activity, or simply not having enough dopamine.
Whatever it might be, don’t panic!
Our list below will help you to find out the reason, or reasons, that you can’t concentrate, and subsequently how to focus better on a daily basis.
If you are too easily distracted, the best thing you can do is to figure out what is distracting you and to remove it altogether.
Even the smallest of distractions can throw us off and ruin our concentration for the rest of the day. Before we know it, hours have been wasted with little to no work done!
Do you find yourself checking your notifications too often, messaging or talking with a colleague, or reading/watching something when you should be working?
This can also be called procrastination.
The solution is to remove these distractions so that they can’t distract you. For example, if your phone is what is distracting you, put it on silent mode or put it in a different room altogether.
Stress can be a huge factor when we are finding it hard to concentrate.
If you are worried about something, the chances that you are going to be able to focus will be low. Instead, you will most likely be overthinking and devoting all your mental energy on that issue.
In other words, stress can be sapping your ability to concentrate and be productive.
This is why it is important to manage our stress levels, not just so that we can focus better, but so that we can enjoy a healthier, happier life.
Just like removing distractions, it is possible to remove certain stress triggers from your life. You can also learn to adapt your mindset so that you don’t get too affected by, or react strongly to, stressful situations.
To reduce stress quickly, we can meditate, exercise, listen to calming music, or write down our stressful thoughts as a means of release.
Do you get at least eight hours of sleep a night? If you don’t, this could be the main reason why you can’t focus.
Insufficient sleep will negatively affect your energy levels - both physically and mentally.
Therefore, it’s important to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. This involves sleeping around the same time each night, and waking up at the same time each morning - including on the weekends!
It is also important to take sleep cycles into consideration so that you can fall asleep at the right time and set your alarm to wake you up at the right time (specifically, at the end of a sleep cycle).
If, however, you struggle to fall asleep at night, make sure that you are giving yourself enough time to wind down. You can do this by avoiding any screens or devices, minimizing your exposure to light (including blue light), and doing something relaxing before bed, such as reading, meditating, or taking a warm shower.
Take Power Naps
If you do feel tired during the day (for lack of sleep or not), nothing should stop you from taking a power nap to recharge.
In fact, numerous studies show that taking a 15 to 20-minute power nap can provide a much-needed mental boost when you are feeling tired and can’t focus.
This amount of nap time is enough to improve concentration without going into a deep sleep, after which we might wake up feeling groggy.
To take a power nap for best results, you can set a timer for 30 or 35 minutes, giving yourself enough time to fall asleep before getting your 15 to 20 minutes’ sleep. Once you wake up, you should feel mentally recharged and ready to study or work.
If you struggle to take power naps, simply take a break instead.
Prolonged periods of concentration you can result in mental fatigue or lethargy. In other words, too much work can work against you!
And while to some it might sound like wasting time, taking a break can be beneficial in refreshing the brain and improving concentration.
When taking a break, however, you should not do anything that might ruin your focus for the rest of the day. It’s also best time to keep breaks to a set time, such as 10 or 15 minutes.
The best things to do on your work break include taking a walk or going outside (to get some sunshine), reading, listening to music or playing an instrument, eating a healthy snack, or engaging in a mentally stimulating conversation with a friend.
Find Your Ideal Concentration Time
Did you know that everyone has an ideal working time?
This does not just mean the time you prefer to work.
Despite the conventional working hours, we all have a natural time during the day when our own ability to concentrate is at its peak. For some, this can be early in the morning. For others, this can be late at night or even past midnight during the early hours.
This is a result of our personal circadian rhythm and “chronotype”. By researching and understanding your specific chronotype, you will know when to sleep, when to wake up, and what are the best times that you should work or study for increased focus.
Believe it or not, but exercise has the ability to significantly improve focus - not only immediately after exercising, but in general.
Exercise contributes to a healthier body and mind. In fact, try going for a jog before working or studying, or when you can’t concentrate. After coming back from the jog, you will find that your mind feels clearer and your ability to concentrate is heightened.
It is also universally agreed on that exercise can reduce stress levels and improve confidence and mental wellbeing overall. And when you are less stressed and more happy, your ability to focus and be productive increases significantly.
The good thing is that any form of physical activity will help to improve concentration. This includes jogging, skipping, yoga, or even a quick stretching session.
As a general rule, we should all aim to get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.
Eat Healthy Food
To fuel your brain and its ability to concentrate, it’s important that we eat healthy food that is high in nutritional value.
In fact, did you know that eating unhealthy food can work against you and hinder your ability to concentrate?
Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the best ways to improve cognition in the long term. This ensures that energy levels remain high and that the brain is functioning optimally throughout the day.
If you are not doing so already, improve mental focus by eating more vegetables, fruits, and unrefined carbs, while reducing your intake of processed food, junk food, and anything that is high in sugar or saturated fat.
It is also important to remember to stay hydrated! Dehydration is more than often one of the biggest detriments to our ability to concentrate.
We should all aim to drink at least four liters of water a day.
Listen to Ambient Sounds
In the same way that certain sounds can help us to fall asleep, we can listen to music or ambient sounds that can help us to focus and concentrate.
The next time that you have to work or study, try listening to soothing ambient music, white noise, or even the sound of rain, birdsong, or ocean waves - you might find that you can concentrate better!
This is because our brains are focusing on one sound or piece of music, rather than the different sounds going on around us. For those who live in a built-up area that is often very noisy, blocking out external sound can be an effective way to focus better.
If you find that sound distracts you altogether, opt to use earplugs instead.
Do Brain Exercises
Brain exercises are a great way to improve cognition, which, in turn, will improve your ability to concentrate and focus.
Brain exercises can include anything that challenges you mentally. Examples are mathematical problems, puzzles, riddles, crosswords or word searches, word games, math games, short quizzes, or even optical illusions.
In fact, this is yet another short activity that you can do when you need to take a break from work or studying.
As a rule, brain exercises should be challenging, but not stressful!
Dopamine is one of the body’s most important monoamines and a neurotransmitter that governs how motivated or excited we feel at any given time.
In general, low levels of dopamine are symptomatic of feelings of demotivation, discontent, failure, and low self-esteem.
If you have ever felt a sudden rush of motivation or excitement at a specific future prospect, this is the result of a natural dopamine release in your brain. Dopamine is well-known as the motivational hormone, which functions as part of the brain’s reward system.
We can increase dopamine naturally in several ways. These include exercising, listening to energizing music, taking cold showers, exposure to sunshine (vitamin D), and expressing gratitude.
We can also take supplements that increase dopamine production in the body naturally. These supplements include mucuna pruriens, ginkgo biloba, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin B12, and l-tyrosine.
Nootropics, or smart drugs, work in the same way as taking supplements to boost overall cognition and help us to focus and concentrate better.
Ultimately, nootropics are combo supplements that combine various ingredients that we would often take as individual supplements. This makes them more convenient to take and, overall, more effective.
Mind Lab Pro is one of the most popular nootropics on the market, simply because it’s one of the few smart drugs that has been FDA-approved (and GMP-certified) with the power to enhance cognition and, subsequently, productivity.
The ingredients in Mind Lab Pro are natural and organic and, in fact, include several supplements that have been proven to increase dopamine, such as l-tyrosine, l-theanine, and vitamins B6, B9, and B12.
As a result, nootropics users widely claim to experience increased levels of focus and concentration, faster problem-solving skills, improved memory, greater awareness, and longer lasting feelings of content, happiness, and motivation.
We all find it difficult to focus at times - some of us more than others. But, thankfully, there are plenty of ways to naturally improve concentration and focus both when we need to (in the middle of a certain task) and in the long term.
Getting more sleep each night and reducing overall stress levels both play an important part in our ability to concentrate. But other factors include making sure to take regular work breaks, exercising regularly, eating healthier, and taking supplements that improve cognition.
By employing the methods and lifestyle changes that we have listed above, you can expect to be more focused and more productive, whether that is during work or when you are studying. Try them today!