Concentration – the key to success

Focus is an important aspect of daily life, be it to avoid being late for school or work, to stay alert at the wheel when driving, to ensure positive work productivity at the office, or to attend to the needs of your family and friends. Therefore, it is vital that you ask yourself these questions: Do you struggle when it comes to staying focused daily? Are you prone to making mistakes regularly? Do you have the tendency of giving people the impression that you are not listening to them when they speak? Do you struggle at finishing tasks that you set out to do? If your answer is "YES" to any of these questions, it means that you have a problem with maintaining concentration. Read on further to discover a few tips on how to improve your concentration, memory and focus effectively.

Why is concentration so important?

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If you are focused it is less likely that you will miss important information.

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Staying focused can help you memorise information more easily.

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It enables you to better mobilise your resources and shift the focus on yourself.

Here are a few methods that can be incorporated to test and improve your concentration:

  • Take a book and count the total number of words in any one paragraph. Repeat this step one more time before checking to see if both results match. If this challenge starts to become easy, you can opt to increase its difficulty by counting the total number of words in two or three paragraphs, or the total number of words in a whole page.
  • Count backwards from 100 to 1 in your head.
  • Choose an inspiring word or phrase and repeat it in your head for 5 minutes.

Concentration plays an important role in everyday life. Scientists have discovered that a person's level of focus can be an important indicator of their future success. Many influential and hugely successful people like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates have also stressed on the power of simplicity, and focusing on priorities. As the old Zen proverb says: “When walking, walk. When eating, eat”. No, this quote does not literally refer to the actions of walking or eating, but instead describes a specific approach to life. It simply states that the most important thing is to focus all your attention on the present in order to achieve the best results. Which begs the question - what is the true definition of concentration and why do you sometimes have difficulty concentrating?

Definition of concentration

Concentration is the ability to focus on one thing and one thing only. In other words, being in control of the attention. It is the ability to focus the mind on one subject, object or thought, whilst simultaneously excluding from the mind any other unrelated thoughts, ideas, feelings and sensations.

Unfortunately, distractions have the potential of hampering your concentration more often than you would like it to. At work, the temptation to read an email, answer a phone, respond to a tweet or instant message, or talk to a friend can disrupt your schedule, force you to move meetings and miss project deadlines. As a result, your brain becomes quickly overworked. And instead of focusing on one task like you are supposed to, you end up jumping from one task to another, causing you to lose concentration and become less productive.

Quote – Your brain needs certain vitamins and minerals that necessary for its proper functioning.

How to improve your focus

Your brain needs certain vitamins and minerals that are necessary for its proper functioning. Some vitamins from Group B help with concentration. They can be found in certain foods like:

  • egg yolk
  • watercress
  • certain cheeses
  • some fruits and vegetables

Magnesium, on the other hand, is a type of mineral that can help to improve your concentration. Foods rich in magnesium include:

  • whole wheat
  • spinach
  • dark chocolate
  • mussels
  • beans
  • nuts
  • lentils

You can also boost your concentration by opting to do a few simple mental exercises at home or at work.

This first exercise requires you to sit on a chair with your back straight and your shoulders loose. Next, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. When it slows down, you will be able to feel yourself starting to relax. Now think of an object (it can be anything) and focus all your attention on it. Try as best as possible to describe its characteristics and how it looks from different angles. Then, switch your focus from the object onto your body, stretch, and open your eyes.

This second exercise will help you to improve your concentration significantly, especially when you are at work. First, choose a task that you struggle with often. Set a time frame for completing this task. This will help you to work more efficiently. Next, make a list of all things that distract you, and find ways to block them out. Repeat these steps with other tasks that you find difficult to finish, and set yourself the goal of completing at least one of these tasks every day. In that way, your mind will continue to stay sharp and not be cluttered with unnecessary thoughts.

The third exercise focuses on the use of all your senses in improving perceptiveness of your surroundings. The use of varying sensory levels can help to support the learning of new knowledge.

In some situations, you may need to incorporate a health supplement as part of a varied and balanced diet, and a healthy lifestyle. Taking a supplement that contains vitamin B5 can help you to regain mental focus, while vitamins B1 and B9 can help to improve your body’s basic psychological functions.

If you are a student who has trouble staying focused, here’s a tip for you. The consumption of a healthy and balanced diet, combined with the practice of an active lifestyle can help you to improve your concentration, especially when preparing for an examination. Do ensure that you take time off from your day to chill out and relax as well, as this will help you to improve your learning ability as time progresses.


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