Dec 1, 2015
8 Ways to Improve Your Attention and Regain Your Focus
According to a study from Harvard University, human brains are in the moment for just over half of our waking hours—a mere 53%. The other 47% of the time we are thinking of something else or zoned out. As we all know, mind wandering can happen at the wrong moment—like when you are trying to focus on a lecture or presentation.
Luckily there are eight easy things you can do to improve your attention span an focus for more than half of the day.
Even a short brisk walk will do. Physical activity has been shown to increase cognitive control. According to a study from the University of Illinois, students with ADHD who participated in 20 minutes of moderate exercise scored better on academic achievement tests, especially in reading and comprehension, and were able to pay attention longer.
Paying attention during meetings can be difficult. According to the National Statistics Council, nearly half of employees consider too many meetings the biggest waste of time in their workday. Jon Acuff, author of Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work and Never Get Stuck, recommends trying to ask one good question in order to stay alert. According to Acuff: "Good questions give you information that helps you improve your job performance," while, "bad questions are those where you already know the answer or just want to look smart.”
Being dehydrated is bad for your body it shortens your attention span. The University of Barcelona, found that mild dehydration-–as little as 2% can negatively impact your concentration. Be aware that a 2% drop in dehydration isn’t enough to trigger thirst. So make sure to bring along plenty of water before you go into a situation requiring focus.
L-theanine, an amino acid found in black tea, has been shown to affect areas of the brain that control attention. A study from the Netherlands, found that tea drinkers were able to perform tasks better and pay attention longer than those who were given a placebo to drink.
A study from Cardiff University in the U.K. found that chewing gum increases your alertness and improves attention. Chewing itself tells the body that nutrients are on their way to the brain, and gum can reduce hunger pangs.
Researchers at Princeton and UCLA found that when students took notes via pen and paper, they were able to identify important concepts, and listen more actively. The ability to checking email or log in to social media on a laptop provides easy distraction. Also note taking on a laptop leads to mindless transcription.
Classical music helps you pay attention, so break out the Beethoven. A study from Stanford University School of Medicine found that listening to short symphonies engages the areas of the brain involved with making predictions, paying attention and updating memory.
Deborah Wiancek, N.D. Deborah Wiancek