Struggling To Concentrate?

How many times have you sat at your desk and tried to focus on a task, only to find that your mind is wandering? Despite your best intentions, you just can’t concentrate. We’ve all been in this familiar, frustrating situation, and it’s something that can really undermine your performance. You try to refocus but your mind still wanders. You are constantly thinking about huge amount of bills waiting to be paid, or best case scenario, you can’t stop thinking about great weekend out with your loved one. The end of the day is coming up and you still haven’t done any work. Does this sound familiar to you? Don’t despair…the help is on the way!

Improving concentration is learning a skill. Learning a skill takes practice… whether it is shooting baskets, dancing, typing, writing, or concentrating.

So don’t wait any longer. Begin right now by practicing these simple techniques:

1. SCAN YOUR BODY

Paradoxically one of the best ways to concentrate is to learn how to focus on nothing at all.

As Arnold Palmer said, “Concentration is the ability to think about absolutely nothing when it is absolutely necessary.”

Close your eyes and focus on your breath going in and out of your body. Or perhaps, pay attention to your bodily sensations, such as the way you feel against the chair or tension you feel in your jaw as you trying to concentrate. Label each sensation as you notice it. Whatever you focus on, check how long you can hold your attention on this aspect before your mind wanders.

2. BE HERE NOW

This deceptively simple strategy is probably the most effective. When you notice your thoughts wandering astray, say to yourself. “Be here now” and gently bring your attention back to where you want it.

FOR EXAMPLE: You’re in class and your attention strays from the lecture to all the homework you have, to a date, to the fact that you’re hungry. As you say to yourself “Be here now” you focus back on the lecture and maintain your attention there as long as possible. When it wanders again, repeat “Be here now” and gently bring your attention back. Do not try to keep particular thoughts out of your mind. For example, as you sit there, close your eyes and think about anything you want to for the next few minutes, except chocolate. Try not to think about chocolate…When you try not to think about something, it keeps coming back. (“I’m not going to think about chocolate. I’m not going to think about chocolate.”)

When you find your thoughts wandering, gently let go of that thought and, with your “Be here now,” return to the present.

3. ZOOM IN AND OUT

Open your eyes and take an object across the room in front of you. It may be a vase with flowers, picture or favourite book in the bookcase. While looking ahead, try to take in as many objects in your peripheral vision as you can. Now narrow your attention to this single object in front of you. Expand your attention gradually, as if you were zooming out a telephoto lens. Practice zooming in and out, narrowing and broadening your attention.

You might need to repeat these techniques few times before you master it, so be patient a keep at it. You’ll see some improvement!

So, did you find these exercises useful? Maybe you can test you attention now by watching this video. Have fun!