Do you often get distracted as you’re getting on with a task at work or at home?
Focus is something we all wish we were a little better engaged with from time to time. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love scrolling too many cute cat videos and finding new Instagram feeds to gather inspiration from! Aside from the happy distractions that come with the internet, there are plenty of other factors which could influence our focus levels, such as exercise routines and diets.
But fear not, there are several mental exercises you can engage in to help retain your focus throughout the day! We’ve rounded up the most successful approaches for you to explore and apply to your daily routine below.
Distraction ‘To-Do’ List
We have a tendency to immediately search something as it pops into our mind. To regulate this, one recommendation is to form a ‘distraction to-do list’. This means that anytime you get the urge to search for something, jot it down on your phone and then return to it in the evening when you have some free time. This averts any straying from the path you’re on at work and ensures you won’t slip down the ‘rabbit hole’ trappings of the internet as you dart from one subject to the next.
The Pomodoro Method
The Pomodoro method is a time management practice which helps to break your working day into a series of breaks so you can keep focussed and productive throughout your day.
Here’s how to put it into practice:
- Select your focus task. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on the task.
- Stop working when the timer is up. Add a dash to a tally chart in your notebook.
- If you have less than four tally marks then take a short 3-5 minute break.
- When you get to four tallies, take a longer 15 - 30 minute break, reset your tally chart and return to the first step.
Mindfulness is a way we can engage with the ‘present’ and ‘now’ and has been proven to help improve focus. A study conducted by The University of Washington Seattle analysed the focus of a group after attending a mindfulness meditation training course compared to another group who had been on a relaxation training course. Those who attended the mindfulness meditation course were found to have more focus. Get to know our everyday mindfulness techniques to learn how to put mindfulness meditation into practice and reap the benefits.
Improving your ‘Working Memory’
Your working memory is linked directly to your level of focus. The working memory is the temporary memory store you’ll use to either remember the name of somebody before you meet them, or a phone number being dictated to you when you haven’t got a pen and pad to hand. It has a temporary nature due to the fact we can store roughly 7 pieces of information in this memory function at one time. In the modern day when we are sat at the computer screen with one eye on our work and the other on the internet, the working memory becomes bunged up with information from the article we’ve just read online, or the text message we’ve just received. This can stall your progress on a certain task or piece of work you’re completing.
You can exercise this part of the brain by engaging in mindfulness (see above), learning a new skill or taking part in physical exercise. A study at the University of British Columbia found a link between resistance training and cognitive functioning in older women, those who trained were found to hold more attention and displayed a better working memory than those who didn’t.
As most of these pointers are in some way related to surfing the internet or social media, a ‘digital detox’ is another way to improve focus and has become a rewarding practice for many. Outside of just distraction at the workplace, it allows you to engage at a greater level with your surroundings in your personal life - it’s important to be present with friends and loved ones.Get to know the benefits of going without tech to see how you too could be reaping the benefits.
For more articles like this, head over to our healthy living blog section for more ways to improve your day-to-day lifestyle.