Considering how a great number of people has smartphones, and is constantly online, it is easy to understand why concentration and focus problems have started to appear more commonly lately. There are so many distractions that you can find either on your phone, online, or simply in your surroundings, so this focus struggle is becoming more ubiquitous with each passing day.
If we are not focused, we can’t get work done, or we manage, but it takes up so much more of our time than it is supposed to. Luckily, focus and concentration are like a muscle and, with right training and discipline, they can grow and improve. So, here, we are going to introduce you to some easy to pull off brain hacks to help you focus and to retain information better.
Learn how to overcome distractions
The first thing you need to do is learn how to overcome distractions, which is much easier said than done unfortunately. Perhaps the best technique to do this is to simply challenge yourself. The challenge is pretty easy actually; you set an alarm clock for one hour and, within that hour, you must be fully focused on what you are reading, studying, or writing.
Once the alarm goes off, you can treat yourself, by watching a video, going online to check your social networks, and browsing the web, for 15-20 minutes. Once that time expiries, set the alarm again and repeat the challenge.
Another way to overcome distractions, is to simply write them down on a piece of paper. If you want to check something, you will remember to do it afterwards, and they won’t have that much power over you any longer.
Do not rely on multitasking
Multi-tasking is usually the equivalent of efficiency, but under closer scrutiny, we discover that it is not the case. Sure, there are activities that allow for multi-tasking to be useful, but these are not things that require your undivided attention. Trying to multitask while doing something complex will only hinder your progress, and affect the quality of your work.
People tend to think multitasking is a good focus exercise, but in reality, your brain simply toggles back and forth between two different tasks. In other words, just because you can talk and walk at the same time does not mean that you can naturally handle any two tasks at the same time.
Eat the right food
If you want to stimulate your brain to be more focused, you should increase the intake of antioxidants, vitamins, and phytonutrients, which are commonly found in fruits and vegetables. Since our brain cells do not store energy, they are in need of glucose, and the intake of sugar and refined carbs can interfere with that, so it is advised to avoid them. Artificial sweeteners, MSG, and others also need to be avoided as they are known as neurotoxins and they are also addictive; as such, they can also provide hindrance in terms of concentrations. Omega-3 supplements found in fish are also good for the brain, and the intake of healthy high-fat food like avocados and nuts is also advised.
Mediation can help you become more composed and it can boost your attention span. Also, it will only take up 20 minutes of your time on a daily basis, so there is no good reason not to use it. You should also be patient before the true perks of meditation become noticeable, so do not think of it as a hoax if you are not immediately productive after the first 20 minutes of meditation.
Remember to breathe in and breathe out, by inhaling long breaths and by exhaling slowly. Listen to the calm and soothing music or melody as you meditate and imagine you are at your happy place.
Stimulate your brain with audio inputs
If you are having a hard time focusing on reading a text, you can always see if there is an audio format available online. By using audio books, you can follow the text more easily, and you are less likely to wander off, or to keep reading the same line five times in a row.
Create flash cards
If you want to boost your retention, you can create flashcards for studying. As you create them, you are going to remember more facts from the lesson, simply because you are writing them down into meaningful chunks of information. You can use these flash cards later on, for quick drilling sessions, and this is the best way to remember difficult things.
There are more effective ways to learn something, but when you are trying to learn things like history dates or definitions, and you have nothing in your memory to draw from, flash cards are your best tactic.
Turn the paragraphs you read into questions
Finally, the best way to remember a really copious lesson, is by dividing it into numerous, meaningful wholes. So, as you read, make sure to pause and see if you can come up with a question that would be answered by the paragraph or the sentence you are reading. Once you have these questions, you can easily check how much you have remembered, and you will efficiently boost retention and focus in the process, as you are actively thinking on the same subject.
It is important not to scan through the text though, just because it is too long. If the subject you are struggling with is hard, then read slowly and try to pinpoint what is the exact part which confuses you. If you try to speed things up, it will only be counter-productive.
So, there you have it. A few useful techniques that can be used on their own, or combined to have even greater benefits. Basically, all you need to do is change a few daily learning habits, and you are going to have a different approach to the problem. You should really try using all of these tips combined, and measure just how more effective you have become.
Just remember, you are not in competition with anybody except yourself; plan to outdo your past not other people.