The ability to concentrate on your tasks at hand is perhaps the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that the business world alike aims to achieve daily. This satisfying level of productivity is only achieved when you descend into what is known as “deep work.”
As Cal Newport once said, deep work is defined as, “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit.”
Whoa. How do we achieve this?!
With the tantalizing distractions of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter taking a firm grasp of our attention ever so easily, it seems impossible to focus on a task at one time without constant mental and physical interruptions. It is not uncommon to procrastinate until crunch time, and our mobile phones have become so advanced that we feel the need to be immersed in them at every minute.
We think we can help you avoid some of these distractions. The five methods below used consistently by successful entrepreneurs, professionals in high stress environments, leaders juggling an array of responsibilities and humans simply striving to be productive in their everyday lives, have made concentration actually possible. Don’t knock ‘em until you’ve tried ‘em! Let’s take a look.
Meditation is a useful practice for clearing your mind, learning to deal with stress, and practicing the art of focusing. Though there are various practices, Vipassana focuses on inhaling and exhaling between five and twenty minutes.
Meditation requires commitment, but consider a daily cleansing of the mind. Just as we commit to housecleaning every few weeks, car washes once a week or every two weeks, it’s the same with our minds – a daily shower will keep it clean and fresh.
Headspace is a wonderful app that offers guided meditation techniques to combat feelings of being overwhelmed, stressed, or upset.
Just do it. Unplug yourself. The feeling is almost alien in nature as we are completely and wholly tied to social media, email, and texting. Our activities revolve around Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp and the list goes on. Originally meant for connecting to others, these apps have turned our lives into a whirlwind of virtual strategy to get attention, feel acknowledgement, and to be updated by the second on the lives of those ranging from next-door to the other side of the world. What was meant to be great has made our real priorities second rate!
So how we concentrate? Log out. Just logout, uninstall the app, and take a break. You won’t believe how much you get done.
Listen To Instrumental Music
Brain music. Ehrling. The Piano Guys. Mozart. The sound of the ocean waves, rain falling on a tin rooftop. The sound of thunderstorms.
Though we can’t pinpoint why it is, there is something soothing about a repetitive sound drawn out over and over. Whether you’re anxious and tense or simply can’t concentrate, instrumental music has time and again proven to rewire our brainwaves to focus. It’s a free tool at our fingertips – or rather, our ears.
How many times have you made a to-do list and then instead of crossing off tasks one by one, you end up dabbling in each task on the list and as a result get nothing done?
15 minutes into your first bullet point and you open up excel because you remembered to check on something you were working on earlier, and while you’re at it, what was the name of the hero in the last Spiderman movie again?
That’s when we descend into the rabbit hole of our Facebook feed and Instagram live stories.
As Richard Whatelyis once said, “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.” Not only that, according to the Freedom.com website, multitasking is “40% less productive” than single tasking!
So when you think you’re helping yourself concentrate by taking care of it all, sadly you’re not really making a dent and tomorrow that list is going to be just as long.
Now here’s an unconventional method – next time you’re falling asleep in a long meeting or you find your mind wandering to what you’re going to have for dinner in the evening, try doodling.
According to a study from the University of Plymouth, doodling aids in cognitive performance and recollection. It helps to stabilize arousal at an optimal level to deal with our innate feelings of boredom.
Now that you’ve skimmed over these tactics for concentrating on one single task at hand, by meditating unplugged and listening to awesome brain waves and doodling, let’s get to work!