It is hardly a surprise that so many people have trouble concentrating nowadays. Whatever it is – math homework, statistical report, a work email – there are so many distractions out there (and in there, in your mind) that it would be a miracle if one weren’t forced to shift the attention focus every other time. It probably was easier a couple of centuries ago, when listening to your thoughts was the best entertainment one could hope for when alone. Today, you are bombarded with letters, calls, and temptations to check Facebook just one more time. It is difficult, if not impossible, to keep your thoughts on track.

Good news is – there are ways to boost your concentration skills, plenty of which are based on the newly developed and increasingly popular concept of mindfulness. Here are but a few of them.

Do the mental powerlifting

The change won’t happen on its own, just like muscle don’t grow on their own accord. Work to develop your concentration abilities with exercise. As with the gym routine, start small. Try focusing on a single task, say reviewing your dissertation proposal, for a couple of minutes. Don’t let your thoughts wander off, keep them tied to the subject and under close surveillance. It doesn’t take much time or effort to do this, and you will be able to increase the focus span gradually over time. Just add a few more minutes to the exercise every day.

It also helps to push the moment of concentration loss just a few minutes away. That is, when you feel you’re about to lose it, promise yourself to concentrate on it for just a little longer. Your brain will develop new concentration abilities with every push.

Breath

Getting back to the concept of mindfulness, it is as simple as living in the moment and realizing that you live in this moment. And what is better to help you feel the very existence than just focusing on breathing? It is such a down-to-earth and mundane thing that your thoughts won’t be able to break free and wander off. Do the “lucid breathing” every day, starting at just a few minutes and gradually moving to bigger spans, and try to listen to your body organs with every inhale and exhale. Don’t think about anything, just breath.

Don’t scatter

Multitasking is an old cliché and one that has acquired a negative tint. Multitasking people are often superficial and unable to do at least one thing from the beginning to the end. That’s why you should do quite the opposite – focus on one thing at a time. The more invested you are in a certain task, the easier it will be to concentrate.

Make lists – they help

You might hate to-do lists, but they do help productivity a lot. Try to make a list every day, arranging tasks from the most important (e.g. researching for a case study) to the least important one (checking professional blogs). It will help organize your concentration sequence.

Meditation helps, too

A lot has been said about the usefulness of meditation for physical and mental health. Amazingly, letting your thoughts wander for a certain (designated) period of time will help you organize and allocate them better in cases when concentration and focus are needed.

Here you go – a few simple tips that will help you concentrate and fight off dissertations. Turning off your phone and other external distractions go without saying, right?

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Submitted by Lewis Harrel