Modern life is full of distractions. Email, text messages, phone calls, and social media all demand our immediate attention which distracts us from the important tasks we attempt to complete each day. Unfortunately, we are limited in our capacity to manage all these distractions at once. Oftentimes trying to do too much at once negatively affects our productivity instead of increasing it. Here are four simple tips you can use to improve your concentration and help increase your productivity.
Eat Well and Stay Hydrated
Maslow was right when he devised his hierarchy. He claimed that if your basic needs such as food and shelter are not met, you have little chance of achieving higher levels of functioning and happiness. This applies to concentration because if you are hungry or have given your body junk food with ingredients it doesn’t recognize, it will force you to focus on these issues instead of the task at hand. Additionally, a study at the University of Connecticut showed that even mild dehydration can lead to anxiety, tension, and difficulty with mental tasks. This is the easiest and most overlooked step towards achieving better concentration.
Reduce Distractions and Multi-Tasking
While it seems like a simple solution, many people have difficulty simply shutting off their phones and logging out of Facebook. Even when they succeed in this minor victory, they spend their time away wondering what they are missing. This is part of a recent phenomenon in which employees feel their performance will be hindered if they are not constantly on call. A study at King’s College London University reported that trying to juggle messages during social interactions, participants’ IQ levels dropped by 10 points. This is compared to the IQ level drop of only 4 points in participants after smoking marijuana. Aside from being considered rude, these constant distractions have a real impact on performance.
Take Regular Breaks
Average adults have a limited amount of time they can stay focused on a given task. Consider taking a short 5-10 minute break every hour to get a snack, check Facebook, or browse a few of those time wasting sites as a way of recharging your batteries. When you return, you will find you can concentrate much better than before.
By listing the tasks that you must complete, you no longer have to worry about forgetting them. This also provides an opportunity to prioritize the tasks you must complete. Consider keeping a pen and paper by your bedside to unload your thoughts from the day to ensure you get a better night’s sleep.