Try these simple strategies to improve attention span and boost concentration!

Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.

Bill Russell
Improve attention span and boost concentration

Regardless of what you do for a living, being unable to concentrate on your work can be catastrophic. Everyone at some point of time has experienced reduced attention span and concentration. For instance, imagine you are tasked with taking minutes of a board meeting. But your mind is wandering, and you cannot get it to concentrate. This will undoubtedly make you miss vital information and can negatively affect your career.

If you are experiencing issues such as poor concentration and short attention span, don’t fret! This article will highlight 7 scientifically proven ways to improve attention span and boost concentration.

Definition of ‘Attention’ and ‘Concentration’

It is not uncommon for people to view attention and concentration as the same thing. However, these are two different, albeit similar, states of mind. According to renowned psychologist and philosopher William James, attention is the distinct and vivid acquisition by the mind of one out of what appears to be multiple simultaneously possible objects or lines of thought [1]. It simply means shutting out other things from your mind to focus on a specific task. Attention span is a person’s capacity to focus on a task or object for an extended time [2]. It typically depends on age and increases during childhood but is stable in adults. The normal attention span for an adult is 15-20 minutes [2].

Concentration, otherwise known as “attentional focus,” is the process of focusing one’s entire attention on a particular task [3].

What can reduce attention span and concentration?

Many factors can affect an individual’s attention span and concentration capacity. These can be external factors such as surrounding conditions or underlying medical issues. However, certain otherwise healthy individuals have a harder time blocking out irrelevant information, even under ideal conditions. Typically, the condition of your surroundings play a critical role in your ability to concentrate [4] [5]. Many people get easily distracted and find it hard to focus when in a noisy environment. Other components of the environment, such as temperature and light, can negatively impact your attention span and concentration. [4] [5].

Studies also indicate that advancing age and sleep deprivation can impair concentration capacity and attention span [6] [7]. Furthermore, many medical conditions are associated with a decline in attention span and concentration. The most common cause of this in children is attention deficit and hypersensitivity disorder (ADHD) [8]. Children with this condition typically have issues with attention span, impulsivity, and hyperactivity [8]. Other medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and brain injuries are linked to reduced attention span and concentration [9] [10].

7 Proven ways to improve attention span and boost concentration

Scientists and medical doctors have researched several effective ways to improve attention span and boost concentration. They include:

Eliminating Distractions

If you find it hard to focus, try to get rid of distractions around you. This also means optimising your environment. For instance, you may find it much easier to concentrate in a library than in a noisy cafe or recreation room [4] [5]. Setting your mobile phone aside and staying off social media when you need to concentrate can also be beneficial. For obvious reasons, studies demonstrate that cognitive performance improves dramatically when mobile phones are kept out of sight [11]. Next time you need to focus on a task, store your mobile phone away. You will be amazed at how well this simple strategy works.

Improve Your Sleep

Several studies have linked optimal sleep to improved attention span and enhanced concentration [5] [12]. Getting the right amount of quality sleep is vital to proper brain function, especially executive functions, which include decision-making and sustained concentration [13]. It is not surprising that research has linked sleep deprivation to reduced focus and increased anxiety. Furthermore, getting an adequate amount of quality sleep helps maintain reaction time [14]. Try sleeping 7-9 hours daily to enhance your attention span and concentration [15].

Physical Exercise

Exercise can improve attention span. Getting in shape isn’t just beneficial for your physical health; it can help increase your attention span and boost your concentration. A recent study indicated that after just 4 weeks of regular exercise, individuals experienced improved attention span and concentration capacity [16]. Another research on older persons indicated that a year of moderate aerobic exercises can prevent or even reverse the memory loss associated with age-related brain atrophy [17].

Exercise Your Mind

Exercising your mind can enhance your ability to focus. Brain training activities and games like sudoku, chess, and memory games can help stimulate areas in the brain responsible for attention and concentration, substantially enhancing their function [18]. In addition, research show that video games can improve attention span and boost concentration. A study conducted in 2018 involving 29 participants demonstrated that playing video games for one-hour increases “visual selective attention” which is a brain function that regulates the processing visual input according to its importance or relevance [19].

Listening to Music

You know that feeling of excitement and happiness when your favourite jam comes on? Listening to music you like can improve attention span and boost concentration. Putting on your favourite tunes while working may help you concentrate better, but the degree to which it does so will vary from person to person. Also, listening to nature or white noise may enhance your attention and other cognitive functions [20]. Furthermore, white noise and natural sounds can conceal background sounds, making your environment more conducive for deep concentration [20].

Avoid Multitasking

Doing many things at a time may be alluring because it can supposedly save time. However, recent research suggests that multitasking takes a toll on our brains, reducing our attention span and ability to concentrate [21]. Additionally, experts believe that the human brain was never meant to handle the stress of simultaneously performing two or more tasks. Constantly switching from one task to another takes up precious brain power and reduces your performance [21]. Instead, completely focus on one task at a time. Finish it and move on to the next. You will find that your work is completed faster with higher quality.

Try Meditation to boost concentration

Meditation and mindfulness practice can enhance your physical & psychological well-being while significantly boosting your concentration. It does this by training your mind to completely present in the moment. This aids in the development of focused attention . A review of 23 studies published in 2011 revealed that consistent mindfulness training substantially boosts concentration capacity and attention span [22]. Additionally, researchers believe that meditation and other related practices such as mindfulness can enhance working memory and executive function [22].

Bottomline

The above strategies are scientifically proven ways to improve attention span and boost concentration. However, some might work better for certain people than others. So, practice as much as possible if one does not give you the desired improvement. But, if your problem persists, do not hesitate to see a licensed physician to rule out any underlying illnesses.

Related articles: Brain Fog? 4 Natural Brain Boosters You Must Discover

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Natural Brain boosters
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