Improve Your Focus in a Technological World (Part 1 of 2)
“I’m on my phone too much” – Ella Sofia
YUP. I’ll admit it.
Maybe that’s something you can admit to as well. Or maybe you just have trouble concentrating when trying to complete a task as simple as reading or listening…
Well if that’s the case then today is your lucky day because in this blog post I am going to discuss 7 unique ways to improve your focus.
So What Does it Actually Mean to “Focus”?
When we focus, it means we are giving attention to something. Now I’ve seen anywhere from 4 to 6 different types of attention, but for now we are just going to discuss 2 main ones: voluntary or involuntary.
This is when you will yourself to focus on something for an extended duration. It’s like wanting to read a blog post from beginning to end. Voluntary attention is something people want to have more of.
This is when your focus is taken away from you – just think of it like getting distracted. It’s like trying to read a blog post but then clicking on the Instagram notification that just popped up on your screen. Involuntary attention is something people want less of.
#1 Do One Thing at One Time
If you want to start improving your focus you have to go back to the basics. Stop multitasking and start working on tasks until completion.
This means, if you’re watching a YouTube video, don’t minimize it and leave it playing while you search for the next video you want to watch. If you’re putting away the groceries, put them all away before moving on to the next task. Start with the small, everyday activities and give your full attention to them. Focus is something you need to build from the ground up, just like any other skill.
Be mindful of the smallest thing you do each day like eating your food. Pay attention to the taste, texture, smell, and colour. Once you are able to give your focus to something as simple as eating a meal, you’ll be able to build up and give your focus to longer tasks which require analytical thinking.
*Pro Tip for weight loss: Being mindful of your food will cause you to eat slower. And when you eat slower, you give your brain more time to tell your stomach it is full. Rather than quickly scarfing back a bunch of food, and realizing you’re full after it’s already too late.
If your focus is always being taken from you, then its probably because the thing taking it is more interesting than the task at hand.
So that begs the question: How do you make the task at hand more interesting?
Sometimes, if you’re working on a longer project, creating novelty again might simply mean putting that project away for a bit then re-introducing it into your life. This tip helped me out a bunch when I took a 1-year break from my Master’s program.
Otherwise think about how you can make things more challenging for yourself (because it is true that small challenges require you to become more engaged it what you’re doing). For example, when I was writing my Master’s research paper, I challenged myself by setting writing goals of 1 section per day. I also challenge myself in my current retail job by establishing one thing to focus on at the beginning of my shift (ex. making more eye contact with customers, or asking “how was your experience in the fitting rooms today?”)
You can also make things seem novel by making them more fun. So start your day wearing an outfit you don’t usually wear (maybe wear something business-casual when you usual dress casual). Cut your hair, dye your hair, wear your make-up differently. Adding novelty into your life can also give you more confidence to take on new tasks, which can in turn affect the amount of focus you want to give something.
#3 Binaural Beats
So I start using binaural beats before I even knew what they were. I won’t spend too much time here because I already have a blog post discussing it more in depth. But to be brief, binaural beats are 2 different frequencies of music, with each being played played through the right and left headphone. Your brain interprets the mathematical difference between the two frequencies and begins to match its brain waves to that frequency.
There are 5 different beneficial states that binaural beats can create, two of which can be used for improving focus:
Alpha State (8 – 14 Hz)
This states is said to help with relaxed focus, stress reduction, positive thinking, accelerated learning, and becoming engaged in a flow state.
Here is a 1 hour alpha binaural beat you can listen to on YouTube. Remember to use headphones!
Beta State (14 – 30 Hz)
This state is said to help with stimulating energy and action, improving focused attention (i.e. reducing involuntary attention), and analytical thinking.
Here is a 1 hour beta binaural beat you can listen to on YouTube. Again, remember to use headphones!
Want the final 4 tips on improving focus? Well make sure you subscribe because I’ll be releasing that post next week!
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As always, I hope you have a great day and don’t forget to make this the #YearofYou!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.