If you’re easily distracted – like me - you need some ways to improve your mental focus. I find it really easy to click on social media, but not so easy to click on a formula on a spreadsheet. Why? One is fun and other isn't. Mental focus is important. You need to be able to concentrate and direct mental effort to perform well and achieve your goals. Mental focus can mean the difference between failure and success. I’m not promising you will get razor-sharp concentration, but these ways to improve your mental focus will help.
1. Assess Your Current Focus
The first thing you need to do is asses the current state of your mental focus. Do you find yourself daydreaming often? Is it difficult for you to tune out distractions? Do you often lose track of work tasks and have to ask a colleague for guidance? All of these things are an indicator of a low and untrained mental focus. One you know that, you can use some ways to improve your mental focus to do better in the future.
2. Get Rid of Distractions
The next step is to purge your working environment and get rid of as many things that distract you as possible. This can involve turning the television off, blocking social media sites on your work computer, putting your phone on the "do not disturb" setting, or even buying some noise cancelling headphones to completely shut yourself off from external sounds. Do whatever it takes to be able to create your own comfortable working environment.
3. One Thing at a Time
Mental focus can often be ruined if you take on too many tasks at once and start to buckle under the pressure of completing everything on time. Make it easier on yourself and take one thing at a time. Writing a to-do list and then being able to tick things off as you go can be really boost your confidence and make you more productive.
4. Live in the Moment
Don’t ruin your mental focus by getting caught up in things that happened in the past. There is no way that you can change these events, so it is a waste of precious brain power to dwell on them. Instead, concentrate on the present and how you can be productive in order to improve your future. That’s something that you can definitely control!
5. Practise Mindfulness
Mindfulness is very trendy and on topic right now, but I think it really can help. Just sitting alone in silence for ten minutes a day, focusing your attention on yourself and excluding all exterior factors in your life can really work to centre your mind and emotions and prepare you for the day ahead.
6. Take a Short Break
Mental focus can be severely damaged when you haven’t given yourself enough time to rest and relax. Your focus will always break down if you haven’t had time to rest, so take care of yourself by taking mini breaks during the working day to just relax and sit in your own silly thoughts, rather than trying to solve bigger problems. By the end of the mini break, you will feel slightly more refreshed and ready to get back to work.
7. Keep It up
No matter how many of these steps you choose to incorporate in to your daily routine, the most important thing is that you keep one or all of them up. Doing these things once a week isn’t going to improve anything, but doing them every single day will. The more you do it, the more natural it will become, and the clearer your mental focus will be without you even having to try.