The average person has an attention span of about 8 seconds or less according to a 2015 Microsoft study. That number has decreased, though, all thanks to today’s perpetually wired world that bombards us with new information.
So how do you get in the zone and stay there in the midst of all the distractions found in our physical and online environment? Here are some effective habits to help you improve your focus:
Maintain a Clean Workplace
Whether it’s your living room or your office desk, clutter can affect your ability to concentrate and process information. Neuroscientists at Princeton University conducted a study in which they compared the performance of two groups of people who worked in either an organised or disorganised environment. The results revealed that physical clutter distracted participants which led to lower performance and higher stress. So make sure to maintain a tidy and organised home or office. Regularly clean areas where you spend time working.
What do Oprah, Hugh Jackman and Kobe Bryant have in common? Aside from being hugely successful in their fields, these people practice meditation. The benefits of meditation have been well-documented. It lowers stress, improves the immune system and boosts focus. And the great thing about meditation is you can actually do it anytime and anywhere.
This may sound ridiculously easy but one of the quickest way for you to meditate is to pause and focus on your breathing. Focus on the air going through your nostrils and how it feels as it enters your throat. If you feel distracted or your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breathing. This simple exercise can help you practice your focus and break any stressful chain of thought you may be having.
Break Down Goals Into Smaller Tasks
Whether it’s at work or at the gym, a goal is certainly effective at giving us a sense of direction. However, that end goal can also be counterproductive when it feels too impossible or difficult to achieve. To overcome any overwhelming feelings, break down your goal into smaller targets that you can track and achieve in shorter duration of time.
For example your goal this year is to lose weight. Instead of stopping there, break down that objective into specific steps such as going to the gym at least five times per week and eliminating sugary snacks and drinks from your diet. This practical hack will also help you stay focused on the task at hand and keep you from feeling frustrated.
Take Short Breaks
It may sound counterintuitive but breaks are actually very good at improving focus and productivity. A study by Psychologist Alejandro Lleras found that participants who took short breaks during the course of a 50-minute task had better performance compared to those who worked straight through the 50 minutes. The study investigated the phenomenon known as “vigilance decrement” which happens when a person loses focus over time. Simply put, short breaks refreshes the brain.
Focus is your trusty sidekick for succeeding in a world that’s cluttered and distracted. Take time to regularly develop your concentration and see how it can positively impact your life.
Sharon Kaibel is a performance and productivity coach. Sharon helps business owners create the strategy, structure and systems to build and grow a profitable business. Join her Closed Facebook Group, the #ACHIEVERNETWORK for the community, resources and trainings to become an extraordinary achiever.