6 Simple Ways to Improve Concentration and Attention
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
Your mind is one hell of a powerful tool that can be used to create immense success, prosperity, joy, and the most magnificent inventions.
But even the smartest people will get nowhere if they lack the focus and ability to concentrate on the important things that would drive their lives forward.
In fact, one of the greatest assets a man can possess, is the ability to focus on a singular task for extended periods of time. When you can project your mind into something with laser-sharp focus and concentrate on a task without giving up or letting your mind wander, you are finally able to build, create, innovate, and achieve anything and everything in life.
How can you boost your focus and concentration then?
#1. Remove the Distractions
The polar opposite of focus, attention, and concentration, are cluttered distractions that snap you out of the zone.
If you want to FOCUS, you need to abolish all distractions. All of them.
Close the phone, #%!@ the email, block Facebook and all other social media platforms, and get to a place where you really can focus without someone distracting you.
I know this sounds like a huge cliche, but really, no matter what else you do to improve your focus, you can completely wreck up everything by having too many distractions in your life.
It is the exact moment when your focus and attention is starting to slip away, that your mind will start to hover into easier past-times. If your phone is next to you, TV on, and those facebook push-notifications keep popping up, what do you think happens? Not work that's for sure.
#2. Use Nootropics
Nootropics are compounds - both natural and synthetic - that can enhance cognitive functions while possessing extremely low toxicity and far lower rates of side effects than common pharmaceuticals.
There are hundreds of different nootropic compounds that have been identified after the creation of the first of their kind; Piracetam, in 1964.
Some of them have been found to positively affect focus, attention, and concentration in clinical trials. Usually the synthetic kinds that require a prescription are insanely effective at this (modafinil, adderall, ritalin, etc), but are also linked to some serious side effects...
...Whereas many non-prescription and natural solutions (phosphatidylserine, various forms of choline, huperzine A, racetams, etc) can also greatly enhance focus and attention span, while having far less, usually non-existant side effects.
NOTE: You can read our full guide about nootropics here.
#3. Brainwave Entertainment
Certain types of music have been found to enhance focus and productivity...
...But there's one thing that's even better than music, or actually it's a combination of music and brainwave frequencies.
This is called brainwave entertainment, and it's pretty impressive (there's even scientific proof about certain frequencies actually improving various cognitive markers, such as attention and focus).
How does it work you ask? Simply, a track of low-volume music is played on the background, while the user receives two different frequencies dichotally to each ear (you have to use headphones or earphones). This creates a third frequency (called binaural frequency) that runs through the brain and is - according to some evidence - able to modulate the neurochemistry of the brain and improve attention and focus.
Test it yourself: Go to this website called Brain.fm and choose the focus icon next time you're working on something with the computer (you may also listen to it through phone), it's a research-based computer generated program that produces different brainwave tracks based on your ratings of how effective you feel they are.
#4. Eat these Focus Boosting Brain Foods
I've done my fair share of research into foods and how they affect hormone levels in the body, and on the side, I've noticed that several of them actually have the ability to improve cognitive abilities.
Take gelatin (or bone broth) for example, which is loaded with the proteins proline and glycine, which both act as crucial neurotransmitters within the brain.
Or coconut oil, which contains medium-chain triglycerdies (MCTs) that convert into ketones inside the liver and can be used as metabolic energy by the brain.
Then there's blueberries, which have shown pretty impressive cognitive benefits in a battery of tests.
Egg yolks - loaded with phospholipids and micronutrients - are one of the greatest foods for concentration and focus.
And of course, coffee. The drink that most of us drink daily to keep us energized and focused on the tasks ahead, and why wouldn't we, there's evidence it works just so.
You are what you eat, and if you eat like #@!% it most certainly won't help with your concentration and attention span.
Meditation and other sorts of mindfulness techniques sound like a cliche.
But meditation actually works extremely well to improve cognitive abilities.
It's also the ultimate practice of focus and concentration, as you essentially stop everything else, and start thinking about your mind and body in completely distraction-free manner.
In the review study titled: "Buddha's Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation", the authors go through extensive lengths to describe several studies in which it has been shown how meditation can significantly alter the structure and function of the brain, one of these being improved neuroplasticity, which is linked to long-term and lasting changes in the efficacy of learning, memory, and concentration.
#6. The Pomodoro Method
Created in Italy in the 80's, Pomodoro technique is a way to chunk your long work days into effective smaller pieces of efficient task completion.
The word "Pomodoro" means tomato in the Italian language, and the original Pomodoro technique actually featured a stop watch that looked like a tomato.
The main goal of using the technique is to lessen the impact of internal and external interruptions and distractions on focus and flow.
So how to Pomodoro?
- Decide what task you need to accomplish, then
set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
- Work on the task until the timer rings. If if your mind wanders, write it down, but immediately get back on task.
- After the timer rings, put a little checkmark on a piece of paper (for a job well done, right?).
- If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 1.
- In case you have more than 4 Pomodoros already marked down, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
You don't have to be too strict about the rules. I like to just work in 30 minute chunks and have a quick short in between, that's basically one way of applying the Pomodoro technique.