Monday, June 8, 2009

Tips to improve concentration

All of us know the importance of concentration skills. Below are given some tips to help you develop better concentration whether you are working, studying or doing anything.

  • A simple exercise to increase concentration: This is a simple exercise to improve concentration which can be done anytime you want to study or do an important task and want your mind to be focused on the task.On a blackboard or a large piece of paper taped to the wall, draw large sideways figure 8s (the infinity symbol) over and over with the right hand, the left hand, and both hands. If you don't have paper, do the drawing motion in the air. Start drawing really large sideways figure 8s and continue making the figure smaller and smaller until you are drawing really tiny Figures. You are then ready to begin homework, or any work that requires concentration.If anytime during your work you feel you are losing concentration, stop the work and do figure 8 exercise again. This exercise can also be done with closed eyes by imagining drawing figure 8's.This exercise helps to activate both the right and left visual fields and hence makes the brain more focused.

  • Do one thing at a time, set aside specific time period: It helps concentration if you just do one thing at a time giving it your complete undivided attention. Multitasking (doing many things simultaneously) will make you distracted and it is an ineffective way of doing things contrary to what many people believe. Do one thing at a time in order to develop concentration. If you are trying to think of giving presentation at office, or studying for your exam - for the next 30 minutes or so, just think of that alone. Focus your mind on the details of the job and how you plan to do it. Let not your attention wander to other things during this time.

  • Do something as if for first or last time: We take a lot of everyday things for granted and do not observe as intently as we should. In order to develop focus and observation, try to look at tasks which you do everyday as if you are doing or seeing them for the first or the last time. This will encourage you to observe details which you may have missed before, thus improving your observation, concentration and also in gaining new insights.

  • Unclutter your mind by writing down : While doing something important, if other worries are invading your mind thus affecting your concentration then an effective way to overcome this problem is to write down any concern you might be having on a piece of paper, next to it write down a date or time when you want to deal with this problem. Writing it down this way will help in uncluttering your mind so that it is free to concentrate on the task at hand.

  • Reward yourself: Decide before starting your work how you would like to reward yourself when you finish. The reward can be anything that makes you happy and relaxed - like having your favorite food, going out for a walk, meeting your best friend etc. It doesn't have to be something big, any activity that gives you pleasure and takes your mind off work for some time will do. This system of rewarding yourself will increase motivation for doing things.

  • Be project specific : Before you start any work, be clear in your mind as to what you want to accomplish. Before sitting down to study for exams, be clear what chapter you want to study now, how much time do you intend to study etc. Be as specific as possible and move on to some other task only after you complete this.

  • Avoid unnecessary movements: People who have short attention spans and faulty concentration are usually restless people. If you watch them you will notice them making a lot of unnecessary movements like shaking hands and legs while sitting, talking etc.While those people who have sound concentration are usually calm and composed, they sit and stand still without any unnecessary movements. Avoiding unnecessary movements will help you preserve your valuable energy, maintain composure and improve concentration.

  • Try to find comfortable relaxed noise-free atmosphere without distractions: When you are working on something, give it your undivided attention and try to minimize distractions as much as possible. Try avoiding visual distractions by pulling curtains on windows if you are sitting near one.

  • Foods that increases concentration:" Any vitamin deficiency can lead to difficulty with concentration," says Chris D. Meletis, ND, chief medical officer at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine. Including Vitamins in your daily diet should help in improving concentration. Iron deficiency can also lead to poor concentration and irritability. High haem iron foods like meat, fish and chicken should be helpful in enhancing concentration. Also take food and juices rich in Vitamin C. Try drinking a glassful of fresh fruit juice or drink black tea with lemon.

  • Be gentle with yourself: If any thoughts come to your mind then gently drive them away, and bring your mind back to the subject at hand. Do not try to force out the thoughts, it works better if you are gentle. If any thought is important one which you would like to pay attention to later, then write it down on paper as mentioned in tip #5 above.

  • Use a concentration scoresheet: Whenever doing some important work, use a concentration scoresheet. Each time you find your mind wandering, make a check mark on the sheet. If you do this on consistent basis, you may find that you have far fewer check marks and far greater concentration.

  • Break task into smaller parts: Breaking a task into smaller parts will make it seem less daunting and help you approach it with more positivity. If you are trying to study a textbook for exam, then you can make a goal of finishing one chapter at a time.

  • Concentration exercises: Concentration exercises help in training your mind to concentrate more and for longer periods of time.

  • Do a thing wholeheartedly: If you approach something half-heartedly, it can show in the quality of the work. In order to do things better, do them with interest. Whatever you are doing, try to find some aspect of it that interests you. If you can find something interesting in each thing you do, you can enjoy even the most mundane and boring tasks.