Do you find it difficult to concentrate for sustained periods of time? Do you feel you could be more productive in your life if only you could focus more? You’re not alone! An abundance of consumer choice, the continuing encroachment of technology in our lives and the expectation of having whatever we want as soon as we want it has wreaked havoc on many people’s ability to use their time wisely, be present to life and enjoy a quiet, focused mind.
Here are 5 ways to stay present in a world of distraction:
1. Limit your scrolling!
This is the absolute number one best thing you can do to restore your concentration levels. When you scroll through social media and other news/information sites, you’re brain is moving quickly from one topic to another, without properly engaging with the subject matter. A little bit of this is totally fine, but if you are doing it for several hours each day, you are conditioning your mind to jump from topic to topic, and you can then find it difficult to maintain sustained focused attention on a given topic for a period of time.
2. Go deep.
Statistics show that these days people are less likely to read long books or in-depth articles, instead preferring podcasts, audio books or video content. Challenge yourself to buck this trend by tackling a long book or diving into a subject matter that interests you and learning as much as you can about it. Going deep with fewer things is far more satisfying that skimming lots of things in a shallow way. The feeling of accomplishment you get from this is a great motivator to continue.
3. Add structure to your day.
If you are easily distracted, you will benefit from adding more structure to your day. Outlining your tasks/activities for the day in advance and allocating specific time periods within which to accomplish them will make it more likely that you will get things done. It will also be more obvious to you when you veer off course and what your main vulnerabilities are in terms of likely distractions. You can even schedule in your leisure and relaxation time to make sure you are staying balanced and still doing fun things with time.
4. Use a timer to keep you on track
Taking #3 to a more extreme level, some people find that actually setting a timer to go off after a period of time keeps them accountable. You might set your phone time for 30 minutes for example, and commit to not looking up from your book/task until the timer goes off. Remember that your ability to concentrate is like a muscle, the more you work it, the stronger it becomes.
4. Pay attention to the world around you.
The next time you are waiting for the barista to make your coffee order, or you are waiting to meet a friend for lunch, resist the temptation to pull out your phone or even a book. See if you can simply sit quietly and patiently, watching the world around you. Learning to do nothing and be content without any stimulation is a valuable opportunity for your mind and nervous system to rest. You might feel uncomfortable with this at first, but the benefits are huge – and as an added bonus you will be open to more interesting and spontaneous encounters reserved only for those who are truly present and awake to life!