How to Get Your Brain to Focus? Have trouble focusing? You are not alone. Concentration and productivity are on the decline due to ubiquitous access to electronic devices, divided attention, multitasking, and too much information to sift through. But, science shows that humans have the capacity to be focused and productive—here is how you can get your brain to focus now.
Understand How Your Brain Focuses
The ability to focus isn’t the product of luck. It’s concentrative power and a habit of honing in on the right tasks at the right times, by activating the areas of the brain known as Attention Regulation Networks. They dictate how much attention your brain will give to a task.
The default mode network (DMN) controls spontaneous thoughts, which can range from actively daydreaming to mind wandering. Meanwhile, the executive control network (ECN) regulates inbound and outbound data, integrates memories, thoughts, and emotions, and directs goal-oriented solutions. When both the DMN and ECN are successfully balanced, attentiveness and focus are abundant. But keeping them both working in tandem takes energy and discipline.
Limit Distractions & Stimuli
We naturally instinctually respond to external stimuli like music, television, and been checking notifications. However, each of these distractions takes the focus away from the main task at hand.
Try limiting the amount of time spent surfing the internet, scrolling through social media, or watching the news. Additionally, take in less input by tuning out audio/visual distractions like music or television that serve no part in the task at hand. Make sure to turn off notifications on your electronic devices and/or move them away from you, that way you won’t be constantly checking for messages.
Stay Hydrated & Eat Well
Although a good diet is important to overall health, it’s also shown to improve concentration. The usual suspect for brain-fog include unhealthy snacks, caffeine, and sugar. One of the most important things you can do is make sure you’re consuming enough water as dehydration can cause your concentration to suffer quickly. Focusing is much easier when the brain is engaged in proper hydration.
Start with Mindful Meditation
Meditation is an effective way to start focusing because it helps reset and relax the mind. It offers training for the DMN, rewires the brain, and helps improve impulse control and attention span. Not only that, but meditation can also increase alpha and theta brainwave activity. Alpha waves help release sources of stress, while Theta waves create a deeper level of relaxation and concentration.
Start with a beginner’s meditation course, and learn how to focus on the present moment and practice with intention and then expand.
Implement Time-Management Tools
Time-management tools help organize the tasks at hand by setting achievable goals, scheduling time appropriately, and creating multiple lists that are tailored to particular goals. This technique can act as a supplement to traditional mental focus tools, such as meditation, mantras, and deep breathing exercises.
Work from Home? Take Breaks & Set Boundaries
At this point, many of us are working from home. That comes with its own set of challenges, and following the same routine as when you were in the office can be realistic. Set boundaries for yourself by scheduling your working hours and taking breaks throughout the day. Breaks give the brain a reconvene for a few moments and provide the opportunity to hit the reset button for focus. Other distraction-fighting tactics for working from home include quieting your environment such as turning phones off, using noise-canceling headphones, and turning off electronics when not in use.
Reward Yourself for Completing Tasks
Research suggests that reward systems can really help with motivation and focus. The act of reaching certain goals like completing a task or project should be rewarded with something,that is enjoyable. Rewards can come in the form of small breaks and can also come in the form of treats, like ice-cream or a bite of chocolate. Anything to reinforce the link between completing a task and rewards.
Make Use of Music
Using music to aid in focus has been around for thousands of years, and contemporary research may serve to back it up and show its efficacy. Examples of music that can help with focus include classical music,light jazz, and other peaceful melodies that help keep you alert without being too distracting.
Supercharge Your Focus with Essential Oils
Aromatherapy is a great way to stay focused. Essential oils like lavender, lemon, rosemary, and basil all have an uplifting scent that can help clear your head and energize you throughout the day, so that you can remain focused on tasks.
Get Up & Move
Exercise has long been known to improve mental focus. Physical activity pumps up blood flow to the executive areas of the brain and sends metabolic waste on the way out. The circulatory system carries away the “junk” to the muscles and organs via exercise, allowing us to perform better mentally. Take short breaks throughout the day to get up and move around. Even a quick 5-minute walk around the block can help reboot your concentration.
Stay Motivated by Celebrating Small Wins
Sometimes, the most difficult part about focusing is having the motivation to do so in the first place. To avoid de-motivation, make sure to celebrate the small wins. You don’t have to finish an entire project to take a break and pat yourself on the back; the journey is just as important as the end result. Even if it’s achieving small daily tasks and goals that contribute to the big picture, celebrate them.
FAQs – How to Get Your Brain to Focus
Q: What can help my brain focus better?
A: A few things can help your brain focus better, such as limiting distractions, eating a healthy diet, implementing time-management tools, taking breaks, rewarding yourself for completing tasks, using music, using essential oils for aromatherapy, exercising, and celebrating small wins.
Q: What should I eat to help my brain focus?
A: To help your brain focus, you should eat a healthy diet that’s high in lean proteins (like fish, chicken, and nuts), complex carbohydrates (like oatmeal, brown rice, and lentils), and healthy fats (like olive oil, avocado, and nuts). Also, make sure that you’re properly hydrated with water, as dehydration can decrease your concentration.
Q: How can I stay focused when working from home?
A: To stay focused when working from home, it’s important to set boundaries, take breaks, turn off unnecessary notifications, and quiet your environment with noise-canceling headphones or by turning off electronics when not in use.
Q: What can aromatherapy do for focus?
A: Aromatherapy can help improve focus by using essential oils, like lavender, lemon, rosemary, and basil, to energize you throughout the day. The scent of these oils can help clear your head and elevate your mood, so that you can remain focused on tasks.
Q: Are there any side effects to using music for focus?
A: Generally, there are no side effects when you use music to help focus. However, if you find that the music is too distracting, it could actually dash any progress you’ve made. When using music for focus, pick tunes that are calming yet inspiring, like light jazz or classical music.
Brain focus is something that takes practice and self-discipline, but it is achievable as long as you have the right tools. Humans have the capacity to focus for extended periods of time and be productive, and by using the techniques mentioned above, you can harness that power and get your brain to focus.