It was about a year since many workers returned to their homes “for a few weeks,” because the pandemic was beginning to ravage the country. Millions of people had to learn how to work remotely every day — if they were fortunate enough to keep their jobs. And even with vaccines that promise “normal” measures in the coming months, the last year is exhausting. But the work still needs to be done.
Ideally, full self-care — good nutrition, workout, sleep, meditation, etc. — helps us to stay sharp. But even when things are not possible, there’s a time when you just have to concentrate whatever the circumstances. Five things you can do here to help you buckle down and do things:
DISTRACTIONS SHOULD BE ELIMINATED.
Neuroscientist Alicia Walf, the senior lecturer at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said that you should take some moments to reduce distractions in your environment to minimise their impact. Are there things that draw your attention in your environment? Address them. Address them. She says: “Whether it’s your phone, or maybe even if you’ve got a window open and look outside and you concentrate on your work to try and reduce your environment,” she says. Switch off notifications. If possible, move to a less distracting workplace. And if there are things that can quickly solve your attention, such as throwing loads of washing in the dryer, you may better do them just so you can regain your focus, she said.
But a diversion can sometimes be exactly what you need. A 2011 study published in Cognition newspaper found that even short distractions can help us return to a task with a renewed focus. So, if you’re going to go for a walk or watch a few funny videos on TikTok, you’ll be able to focus on them.
THE PERSPECTIVE SHOULD BE NARROWED.
According to organizational psychologist Katy Caselli, founder and chairman of Building Giants, being overwhelmed makes it hard to focus on the training of the workforce. If you find it difficult to concentrate, break up your task into steps and work on each individual individually. She also advises against multitasking. “When we change from one thing to the next, overall, we work faster to compensate for this, which causes more stress, frustration and time pressure,” she explains. She suggests that you focus on one manageable task at a time, and it may be easier to concentrate.
CREATE YOUR OWN “CHAMPAGNE MOMENTS”
Taking into consideration the overall objective you are trying to achieve can help you concentrate. Jim Kwik, the author of Limitless, recommends starting with specific goals, upgrading your brain, learning anything quicker and unlocking your extraordinary life. Kwik’s colleague Clay Herbert calls them “champagne moments.”
“If you go to compete in sports, you know when you open champagne and celebrate because there is a clear result,” says Kwik. Take into account the features of a successful outcome. In this situation, what would it be like? What is the importance of this? What if you fail to complete it? What will happen? Reconnect with your feelings and the implications of doing your best work. Emotionally investing in the completion of the project can help you concentrate by boosting your energy and remembering your priorities.
TAKE A BREAK FROM THINKING.
Breaks are taken by some people. Kwik suggests taking a “brain break,” which consists of three steps:
- Move your body, he says, because “as your body moves, your brain grooves, giving you energy and great brain-derived neurotrophic factors, which are like fertiliser for your brain.”
- “Simply staying hydrated increases your reaction time and thinking speed by 15 to 30 per cent.” He claims that “the majority of your brain is made up of water.”
- Yes, you should take a few deep breaths. However, you should also sit up straighter. “A lot of times, people can’t maintain their energy to get things done because their posture is so bad, and the lower third of your lungs absorbs two-thirds of the oxygen,” he explains.
SPRINTS OF WORK
You can take advantage of your energy spikes if you’re aware of when they occur throughout the day. Working in short bursts can help you focus when you’re dealing with a high-energy situation. Try the Pomodoro Technique, which involves setting a timer for 25 minutes with a 5-minute break every 25 minutes. Challenge yourself in what you need to accomplish during the 25-minute intervals. You could try to concentrate on a single task or play a game of “beat the clock,” in which you try to complete as much work on a draught document as possible.
We also need to adjust our expectations from time to time, according to Walf. “We all know that attention is very fleeting under normal circumstances,” she says. “In terms of our mental capacity, it’s one of our most limited resources.” Recognize that the pandemic’s stress, grief, anxiety, and other emotional effects may be taxing your ability to concentrate even more. As a result, having some patience with ourselves can help us avoid exacerbating negative emotions that can arise when we’re frustrated about our inability to focus.
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