Concentration delivers the most consistent results in the most productive way possible, time after time. Ironically the more you think about concentrating the less you are focused on the task at hand. That’s why most people teach the skill of concentration through indirect methods, such as eliminating distractions.
Concentration is simply directing your energy toward a particular activity.
Edwin Moses, Olympic champion and physicist, said, “My concentration level blocks out everything. Concentration is why some athletes are better than others. You develop that concentration in training.”
Concentration is a learned skill. And, as with any skill, repeated practice will increase you goal achievement. A thoughtful analysis of what distracts your concentration will usually point you in the direction you must take to improve.
This is a summary of typical distractions that impede your concentration and therefore your productivity. Evaluate your own situation and determine how you change the environment to improve these circumstances.
- Whether it’s a home office, your kitchen table or your local library, it’s important to find a place where you can spread out and have all of the materials you will need close at hand. Any time you have to get up is another disruption. You should have good lighting and ventilation, a comfortable chair (but not too comfortable!) and a desk large enough to spread out your materials.
- While some people cannot think in peace and quiet, it is much more difficult to concentrate if our surroundings are intrusive. You can distinguish between background music, which our minds interpret as “white noise” and interruptions by telephones, text, email and questions. Music may not be a distraction to you but people are disruptive to the effort at concentration.
- Set a realistic goal for each session and divide your work into small, short-term tasks. Determine these before you begin to work. Don’t be too vague such as, “I am going to spend all day Saturday working.” You won’t recognize the amount of work you accomplish and will be discouraged. Do more than your goal if you have the time, but set a reasonable goal even if it seems too easy.
- Set a time limit for focused concentration. At the beginning 15 minutes may be reasonable. Work up to at least 30 minutes before you take a 5-10 minute break for stretching and walking. You want to recharge your brain and increase the blood flow throughout your body. This also increases concentration.
- Decide the order you’re going to approach your tasks. Then stick to it.
This is the best part. Plan a reward for completing your goals for each session. But remember, if you don’t meet your goal? No reward!The ability to concentrate and focus on the task at hand is a learned skill – which means there’s hope for everyone! We all have the ability to concentrate. But at times our thoughts are scattered, and our minds race. We need to learn and practice concentration skills and strategies to improve our productivity.