Research from UK wellness firm Well lab reveals that three quarters of UK workers say they’re ‘often’ or ‘very often’ distracted at work. Here, the team speak to Checklist to reveal some of the more unusual tricks that could help you stay focused on the task at hand.
This may sound counterproductive, but some scientists believe that allowing a specific time for daydreaming is good for our health and can even help us to pay attention when required. The mind wanders automatically, so giving it an allotted time to do just that should help you focus when you need to, according to a Professor Mary-Helen Immordino-Yang from the University of Southern California, who says:
“Ironically, a lack of time to daydream may even hamper our capacity to pay attention when we need to.”
She and her colleagues recommend that adults and children unplug and find time for quieter, inward reflection on a regular basis.
2. Have a laugh
Our brains are naturally drawn towards fun activities and some scientific studies have shown that by allowing ourselves to have fun, we can potentially concentrate better for longer. In one report, those who were shown a funny video then asked to do an activity, tried harder and were focused on the task for longer than those that simply sat straight down to work.
3. Play the right music
If the sound of silence only encourages your mind to fill the gap with daydreams and procrastination, then playing some background music could be a good way to combat this. A word of warning though, it needs to be the right kind of tune.
Some types of music provide non-invasive noise and evoke pleasurable feelings which temper our subconscious ability to get distracted. A surprising choice might be video game music, which is specifically produced to keep our minds focused on what we’re doing.
Video game music is rhythmic and designed to keep us in the game for as long as possible, its sole purpose is to stay in the background but also to keep us in the zone. Video game music is also often lyric-less, which given that our brains are designed to prioritise speech over other sounds, limits its distractive capabilities further.
Another option would be low fi music which is widely thought to aid concentration.
4. Stop scrolling
An obvious one, but most people ignore the fact that it’s almost impossible to concentrate with constant pings, dings and flashes from our mobile device notifications. There are apps that you can use to mute social media for allotted periods of time. The most popular being Freedom.
Another tip is to not install apps like What’sApp and Facebook on your desktop and remove your email notifications in favour of giving yourself an allocated time to go and check them.
5. Try a ‘power five minutes’ each hour
Sessions of physical activity such as walking or jogging are well known to aid concentration. However, because the effect only lasts about an hour, scheduling regular opportunities to be active during the day could benefit you more. Studies have also shown that just five minutes of intense activity can also impact obesity levels and BMI. So, even if it’s just five minutes every hour, it can all add up to being more productive, with a healthier body and mind.
Breathing is something that we all do without even thinking about it on a daily basis, but the truth is that most people do not fully utilise the power of our breath. By incorporating easy breathing exercises into our everyday routines, we can improve our ability to focus.
As your lungs take in more fresh air, your blood oxygen levels rise. As your blood pressure rises, more oxygen reaches your brain, therefore stimulating you and enhancing your ability to concentrate and recall information. Breathing more slowly and deliberately can also help to boost serotonin production, making you feel happier and less stressed. A brighter, sharper, and calmer mind can be obtained with just a few deep breaths of fresh air.
7. Get your (lab) coat
During lockdown much was made of the psychological effects of getting dressed over working in loungewear or pyjamas. And there is science behind the theory that what you wear affects performance. One study even found that wearing a lab coat like a doctor helped people to focus better.
8. Colours for concentration
According to colour theory beige and grey can create feelings of depression, whereas red demands attention. So, it’s important to think about the colour or shade you pick in the rooms in which concentration is required. The best colours to aid concentration are green and blue shades.
9. Find your focal point
Ever heard people talk of night owls versus larks? It’s widely accepted that different people find it easier to concentrate at different points in the day – which type you are, is known as your chronotype and this is something we’re born with. It’s mainly genetic, albeit it could alter slightly at different points in our development – namely childhood and adolescence. Post-pandemic, workplaces are becoming more flexible, which could see productivity soar if workers are given the freedom to complete tasks according to chronotype.
10. Health supplements
There are many health supplements that are thought to aid concentration and provide balance and harmony to the body and mind. Some CBD products are reported to support concentration thanks to a unique combination of terpenes and herbal extracts such as maca root and ashwagandha, which are thought to calm the mind and limit distraction from external sources.
Find out more about Well lab Energise here.
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