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Productivity Jul 17, 2023

How to increase your concentration: A guide

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

In our hyper-connected world, we are constantly exposed to a flood of information and stimuli. We live in an era where multitasking is often seen as an indication of productivity and efficiency.

But in fact, it undermines our ability to focus and dive deep into a task.

But what if you were able to increase your concentration and get more out of your day? For today's topic I was inspired by the book Eckhart Tolle "The Power of Now".

In this post you will not only get valuable insights into the topic of concentration, but also a detailed guide with practical tips to improve your focus and use the full potential of the now.

  1. 👀 Recognise your distractions
  2. 🧠 Train your mind
  3. 🗓️ Schedule breaks
  4. 🏞️ Create a supportive environment
sheldon focuses
Attention, please focus! 👀

Brief insight into the book

"The Power of Now" is a book packed with profound insights and wisdom. Here are some remarkable insights and facts highlighted in the book:

  1. Now is the only moment that really counts: The importance of the present moment is emphasized. Emphasis is placed on how the tendency to live in the past or in the future often keeps us from realizing and using the full potential of the now.
  2. Identification with the Mind: The concept of identification with the mind and how this identification leads to suffering is discussed. It is suggested that we can take an observer's perspective and distance ourselves from the constant activity of thinking in order to find inner peace.
  3. Ego and Identity: A central theme is the role of the ego and identity. It is argued that our ego and identity are often based on the past and prevent us from being truly present and aware in the present moment.
  4. Acceptance of the Present: It is emphasized that acceptance of what is happening in the present moment is a key to inner peace and happiness. By accepting what is, we can detach from negative emotions and thoughts and establish a deeper connection with the now.
  5. The Role of Suffering: It is argued that suffering often serves to awaken us and move us toward transformation. In this sense, suffering can be seen as a catalyst for growth and change.
  6. The Illusion of Time: One of the fundamental theses is the idea that time is an illusion. The only time that truly exists is now, and by focusing our attention on the present moment, we can develop a deeper awareness and understanding of life.

It is important to note that these insights and facts from "The Power of Now" are highly simplified and the book itself dives much deeper and more detailed into these and many other topics.

Hidden enemies: The power of distractions and diversions

Who hasn't experienced this? You're sitting at your desk, ready to dive into an important project or read a book you've had on your nightstand for a long time. But then your phone vibrates, an email notification pops up, a new post on your favourite forum - and before you know it, you're caught in a spiral of distraction.

It's like trying to drink a mug of hot coffee while bouncing on one leg and juggling a ball. Our minds are not designed for effective multitasking, and constantly jumping back and forth between different tasks can significantly weaken our concentration and ultimately inhibit our productivity.

A man among social media distractions
Social media: The daily distractions of life

Increase concentration: Your step-by-step guide

With the following concrete steps, inspired by the universal principles of mindfulness and presence, you can strengthen your attention and increase your concentration:

Step 1: 👀 Recognise your distractions

The first thing you need to do is be honest with yourself and identify what regularly distracts you from your work.

Maybe it's the constant notifications on your smartphone, maybe it's emails flooding in and demanding your attention, or maybe it's the perpetual urge to scroll through social media for fear of missing something.

This might help you:
  • Self-observation: Pay attention to the times when you are most often distracted. Is it in the morning, afternoon or evening? Are there certain situations or people that cause your distraction?
  • Technological tools: There are many apps and programmes that can help you track your online activities. You can use these tools to see how much time you spend on certain websites or in certain apps.
  • Reflection: Take a few minutes each day to reflect on your activities. Did you get distracted? If so, what was the trigger?

Step 2: 🧠 Train your mind

A brain exercises in the gym
Increase concentration: Train your mind

To increase your concentration, it is important to train your mind. One method that can help is the practice of mindfulness and meditation.

By focusing on living in the now, you can train your mind not to constantly wander off into the future or the past. This can be challenging at first, especially if you are used to always being in your thoughts.

But over time you will find that it becomes easier. For example, you could start by sitting in silence for a few minutes a day and just paying attention to your breath.

Or you could take mindfulness breaks during the day to focus on what you are doing, whether it is drinking a cup of tea or writing an email.

What also helps:
  • Physical activity: Regular physical activity can help increase blood flow and oxygenation to the brain, which improves concentration.
  • Healthy diet: A balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and antioxidants can support brain function and concentration.
  • Listening to music: Studies have shown that certain types of music, such as classical music or nature sounds, can increase concentration.
  • Good sleep habits: Regular and adequate sleep is crucial for concentration.

Step 3: 🗓️ Schedule breaks

Your brain also needs breaks to function optimally. Think of your brain as a muscle that needs a rest after working hard.

By taking regular breaks, you give your brain a chance to regenerate and recharge.

For example, you could use the Pomodoro technique , where you concentrate for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. Or you could simply make sure you get up every hour and move around a bit to refresh your mind.

You could try that too:
  • 20-20-20 rule: For people who spend a lot of time in front of screens, the 20-20-20 rule can be helpful. Every 20 minutes you should look 20 feet (about 6 metres) into the distance for 20 seconds. This can help relax the eyes and prevent mental fatigue.
  • Rule of 52-17: One study found that the most productive people usually work for 52 minutes and then take a 17-minute break.
  • Nature breaks: Try to go outside or at least look at natural landscapes during your breaks. Studies have shown that looking at nature or spending time in nature can help to relax and refresh the mind.

Step 4: 🏞️ Create a supportive environment

The environment in which you work can have a big impact on your ability to concentrate. By creating a conducive environment, you can help to increase your concentration.

Create an environment that supports your concentration. This may mean finding a quiet, tidy room to work in, or using headphones to block out background noise.

Some people also find that certain types of music or nature sounds help them concentrate better.

A man sits outside to increase his concentration
Nice working environment. How did he get in there? 🤨

The key to mastering your concentration

By following the steps above - recognising distractions, training your mind, scheduling breaks and creating a conducive environment - you can greatly improve your concentration.

It's important to be patient and give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them.

The power is in the now, and now is the perfect time to begin your journey.

With increased focus, you will not only be more productive, but also have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the tasks and activities you undertake.

Remember, it's not about perfection, it's about constant learning and growth. Use your concentration wisely to develop your full potential.

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