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With smartphones glued to our hands and TVs in front of us, it’s becoming harder and harder to stay focused.
With every little ding and vibration from your phone, ranging from social media notifications to texts, calls, sports scores, and reminders, it almost seems impossible to focus on what’s right in front of you.
But learning how to stay focused is important because it offers a lot of benefits to your overall wellness and intelligence, not to mention improving your productivity and help in reaching your goals.
In this post, I am going to help you become better at focusing your attention on a daily basis.
I will share with you the best tips, browser extensions, and apps that will help you improve concentration so you can focus better.
Learning How To Stay Focused To Improve Your Life
What Are the Benefits Of Focusing?
Improving your concentration has many benefits, not just on productivity.
We all know that focusing better increases your productivity and allowing for you to reach your goals and for creativity to flow through your brain.
When you are distracted, it is hard to have a linear motion of thoughts and ideas.
This is because you are so busy dividing your attention to multiple tasks that you aren’t giving one specific thing your undivided attention.
Not focusing also causes unnecessary stress to the body and brain.
If you think about it, when you are being distracted it produces the same reaction as anxiety.
Instead of fueling your brain with information, it goes into information overload and makes it difficult to really absorb anything you are hearing or seeing.
When you are focused you are also more likely to make better decisions.
It goes hand in hand with feeling less stressed.
When you’re stressed, your judgment can be altered because you are making decisions out of the flight or fight response.
And when you are calm, you become more rational, which in turn lets your make well-rounded decisions.
When you make better decisions for yourself, it gives you a self esteem boost and also makes you more self-aware.
However, learning how to focus isn’t always easy.
It can take a lot of practice getting a routine going for yourself especially after years and years of being distracted and not even knowing how distracted you are.
The issue with lacking focus is that it causes a lot more than stress and confusion.
It can affect your health, your well-being and even how people respect you.
When someone is constantly distracted it can make others feel like what they have to say or show you isn’t important.
This is because even though you might be interested, your distractions pull you away and show them that you have more important things to worry about.
Being distracted not only causes relationship problems but it also can affect your performance at work and at school.
If you are distracted at work or school you are most likely missing reminders, appointments and deadlines without even realizing it.
Once this becomes a habit, you start to miss out on bonuses, promotions and other opportunities that could have been yours had you just spent more time focusing instead of letting your lack of focus control your life.
Tips For Helping You Focus
Now that understand the issues by not focusing, how do you learn how to focus your attention for success?
Here are the best tips you can start using today.
Unplugging yourself from the world around you via your smartphone, laptop and TV allows your brain to declutter your thoughts and make room for whatever you are trying to concentrate on.
Electronics can be super beneficial but they can also be the number one distraction when not used properly in a study or working environment.
Even just flipping your phone over will help you focus better because it prevents you from the temptation of checking it out every time it lights up with a new notification.
#2. Limit Caffeine
While some caffeine can improve your concentration for short periods of time, there is a downside to it.
Caffeine makes you more jittery which can actually make it harder to sit still.
And when you don’t want to sit still, it’s going to make your mind wander and move onto other things than the task at hand.
Music actually has the potential to increase productivity and help you study better and focus longer.
Researchers have shown that listening to calming music without words helps people perform better.
People have been using this as a meditation tool for decades now because soft music not only improves function in the brain but it helps connect neurons that help you learn, think and encourage creativity to flow.
Here is a great video that talks about this idea in greater detail.
Sleep is one of the most crucial steps to focusing better during the day.
Your sleep schedule quite literally affects every aspect of your waking life and without a good night sleep, you can guarantee your attention span will be compromised.
You can actually sleep incorrectly.
I know it might seem like second nature but sleeping with the lights and TV off can significantly impact how well you sleep at night.
It’s also important to limit cellphone use before bed because it also fills your head up with to do lists and other things that can stress you out before bed.
Lastly a glass of water is said to work wonders for deep sleep especially when you drink it right before bed.
#5. Take Breaks
Taking breaks is important because it allows your brain to take a moment off and re-group.
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When you turn your attention back to the task at hand, you feel relieved and ready to put in your full efforts again.
You can go for a walk or even just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
#6. Self Scanning
Self scanning is tool that a lot of therapists use to teach people how to monitor their stress levels.
The first step is to check your shoulders. Are they tense? How does your neck feel? Are you breathing to quickly?
Self scanning is a great way to tell if you are stressed.
Helpful Browser Extensions To Stay Focused Online
Here is a list of some of my personal favorite productivity extensions and plugins for Chrome, Firefox and Safari that will help you learn how to stay focused online.
Extensions and plugins are like quick tabs for your computer.
They can run while you aren’t even paying attention to them, which means they can work in the background to help your productivity without interrupting whatever you are working on online.
This extension saves all your passwords and account information so that you don’t have to remember every one.
Plus, it is a lot more secure than using the same password for every site.
#2. Web Of Trust
This one gives you a green or red flag on whether or not the website you are visiting can be trusted or not.
This will save you a lot of time doing your research and also in the cases of hackers trying to steal your information.
#3. Meeting Scheduler
When you are booked with meetings to attend this simple extension sends you notifications for upcoming meetings and also lets the other attendees know as well.
It’s great because it also provides a platform where you can communicate.
That way if someone can’t show up or the meeting time has changed, it can all be communicated on the same platform.
This extension speaks for itself.
It’s literally used to cut you off if you are spending too much time on wasteful sites such as social media, shopping and gaming sites.
WebWatch is good for people who have a hard time with managing their time online.
This extension tracks exactly how much time you spend on each website and helps you figure out what you need to cut back on or cut back completely.
Apps For Focusing And Productivity
In addition to the tips for how to focus and browser extensions, there are apps you can use as well.
While it is helpful to hide your device when you are trying to focus, these apps work great in helping you to learn to focus.
Lumosity is one of the most popular apps right now that helps people everywhere increase their mental stamina and focus.
This app is free which is not even the best part.
Lumosity was created by neuroscientists that curated games specifically for keeping your brain sharp.
This includes puzzles and memory games that encourage your brain to perform in ways it might not have to on a usual basis which increases its ability to perform better in all aspects.
You might be thinking, “How can games help my productivity if they are games?”
Think of your brain as a muscle just like any other muscle in your body.
It needs to be stretched and exercised, fueled and constantly working or else it will become limp because it doesn’t get used often.
Use this app on your lunch break and helps with your cognitive performance.
People say they saw themselves focusing better within days after starting Lumosity.
#2. Pomodoro (Tomato Timer)
Pomodoro is one of the best apps for people who aren’t good with time management.
This app lets you clock in and clock out on it to show you how long of a break you have taken and how long you have been focusing for.
It sounds crazy to some people but working for too long on a specific task can actually hurt your productivity on it.
Taking breaks is crucial for success.
I’ve been using this technique for a while now and have improved my focus and productivity greatly.
I focus on one task only for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break to do anything I want.
Then I focus again for 25 minutes, either on the original task or a different one.
I highly recommend you try it out so you too can experience the results.
Headspace is one of the most popular meditation apps and for a good reason.
This app is an awesome starter place for people who have no experience using meditation as self-care.
Headspace offers short animated videos showing you how to correctly use different meditation tools to your advantage with step by step tips.
This app is good to use throughout the day and users find it life changing.
#4. Mental Workouts
This app has programs that teach you how to meditate and increase your productivity and focus.
You can choose from different programs that you think will help you the most and use them.
If you work in an office or somewhere that requires you to sit for long periods of time, the app TimeOut is great.
It sends you a notification after a certain amount of time, which you can preset in its settings depending on your work schedule to help you regulate breaks throughout the day.
The coolest part?
You can even link your iTunes account so that when it’s time to take a time out you can enjoy your own music and jam out during your break.
#6. GPS For The Soul
One of the most interactive productivity apps I have found is the app called GPS For The Soul.
What it does is actually tracks your heart rate and lets you know when you are feeling overwhelmed or need to take a moment to yourself so that you can get back to a normal heart rate.
Your heart rate is an excellent indicator for a lot of things such as stress, anxiety and overstimulation.
If your heart rate is high it probably means it’s time to take a step back and try meditating for yourself.
Once your heart rate goes back to normal you can resume work.
You will find that this is a great help for your ability to stay focused because it teaches you to be self-aware, and when you are self-aware you will be able to get more work done and feel better about yourself not being so stressed out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions I am asked by my readers about how to focus and improve their concentration.
How do I stay focused at work?
I have found there are a few smart ways to focus at work.
For starters, if you are in an office and can close your door, do it.
Your co-workers will think you are busy and will be less likely to interrupt you.
If you don’t have a door to your office, consider putting on headphones.
You won’t be listening to music, but it will help you to tune out the conversations happening all around you.
From there, turn off email notifications on your computer. If you get a pop up every time a new email comes in, you will lose concentration quickly.
The same is true if you have your email open in your task bar. You will see the number of emails increase every time a new message comes in.
Next, put your phone in a drawer or turn it over and silence it. All of the dings and notifications you get will surely distract you from your job.
Finally, take advantage of the Pomodoro Technique.
Pick one task and focus intently on it for 25 minutes. Then take a 5 minute break.
You will be amazed at how much more productive you will be if you follow these tips.
How can I be more focused throughout the day?
The smartest way to be more focused throughout the day is to limit distractions and eat better.
By limiting distractions, you can focus more on the things you are working on and not have to worry about being interrupted.
I’ve covered many ways to do this throughout this post.
As for eating healthy, the better you eat, the better your body and mind runs.
It’s like a car.
The more you take care of it and get routine maintenance completed, the better it will run and the longer it will last.
The same holds true for your body.
Eat better, get some exercise, and sleep at least 7 hours a day and you will be more focused all day long.
In fact, you will wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and alert, not tired and groggy.
How do I improve concentration?
There are a few things you can do to improve your concentration.
First, start meditating. When you meditate, you practice concentrating on the task at hand.
From there, do exercises to challenge your brain.
In the above section I talked about a few of the best puzzles and games for your brain.
Finally, take care of yourself.
The more you do this, the better you will be at concentrating.
How can I better focus when studying?
When it comes to concentrating when studying or focusing on your homework, you have some options.
First, make sure you are not waiting until right before bed to study or do your homework.
You will be too tired and it will be difficult to concentrate.
Instead, get your work done earlier in the day.
If possible, focus during study hall so you won’t have an overwhelming amount of studying to do at night.
Next, to focus, be sure to use the Pomodoro Technique.
This has you focus on one of your tasks for 25 minutes before you take a break.
When it is time to take a break, get out of your chair and do something completely different.
Then come back and focus for another 25 minutes.
You will accomplish a lot using this technique.
Finally, make sure to put your phone on do not disturb.
The fewer interruptions you have to deal with, the more you can concentrate on your studies.
What foods help you focus?
A healthy, balanced diet is key to help you focus better.
This is because when you are eating healthy, your body is getting the nutrients it needs to perform at peak levels.
It also helps you to sleep better at night, which means you will have a steady stream of energy throughout your day.
When you eat unhealthy foods, you have the afternoon crashes of sleepiness and have a hard time trying to focus.
Your sleep also suffers, which leads to you making poor decisions and being less productive.
While eating healthy is key, here are a few specific foods to focus on to help you improve concentration and focus.
- Almonds, Cashews and other nuts
- Dark Chocolate (not milk chocolate)
Make it a point to eat better and you will see your focus and concentration skyrocket.
Learning how to focus and being in the moment is incredibly important for your mental and physical health.
Focusing improves your memory and productivity.
When you start to improve these qualities about yourself you will notice that you are able to get more done throughout the day and feel better about yourself and boost your self esteem.
Being able to focus offers a great abundance of relief to your central nervous system which means you will see significant relief in anxiety and stress overall.
Focusing can also help you move up your career ladder because it teaches you self-awareness which is crucial for independent growth.
When you are able to focus at work better you will see that deadlines aren’t so scary and that on weekends you notice yourself not stressing over what needs to be done on Monday.
With all of the different apps and extensions on the web you can use to your advantage, there is no reason for you to continue to stress and not perform better!
Learning how to declutter your mind and focus on the “right now” is such a good investment to make for yourself.
Most, if not all of these tips, extensions, and apps are completely free which means you don’t even have to spend a penny to improve yourself.
Once you get in good practice of self-awareness and meditation it will become second nature to do all of these things without even thinking about them.
Don’t spend any more time being a 5 out of 10. Start focusing and improving your productivity right now.
Don Dulin is the founder and main author on Unfinished Success, a personal development website whose goal is to help you be the best you. By making small changes everyday to how you live life, you can live your best life. You can learn more about him here.