Distractions have never been harder to resist. Deloitte’s “2022 Connectivity and Mobile Trends Survey” notes that the average household in the U.S. has a total of 22 connected devices.
The prevalence and accessibility of devices can make it difficult to focus, but tablets, smartphones, and other technologies are not the only culprits that affect the ability to concentrate. Harvard Medical School notes that underlying medical conditions, side effects of medication, and excessive alcohol consumption each make it harder to focus. As each individual is different, efforts to improve focus require some trial and error until a person finds what works for them. The following are some effective strategies that can help people sharpen their focus and reap the rewards of a heightened ability to concentrate.
- Turn notifications off. Notifications are a bigger distraction than people may realize. A 2015 study from researchers at Florida State University found that simply hearing the ping of a notification was as distracting as taking a phone call. Individuals may find the idea of answering as little as 20 or more phone calls per day unrealistic, but researchers have found that the average smartphone user receives around 80 push notifications daily. Such constant inflow of notifications is detrimental to smartphone users’ ability to focus. Turning notifications off while in school or during the workday can help avoid this seemingly endless stream of distractions, thus improving focus.
- Establish a distraction-free workspace. A survey from McKinsey & Company found that, after the acute phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, 58% of employed respondents have the option to work from home for all or part of the week. Remote working may be more convenient, but it can also compromise workers’ focus in ways that are unique to working from home. For example, professionals’ children cannot stroll into their offices when they aren’t working from home, nor are distractions like television within arm’s length in a traditional office setting. Professionals who are finding it hard to focus when working from home can do more to make their home offices distraction-free. Make your home a television-free zone during traditional working hours and remove a television or a non-work tablet from your office so you aren’t tempted to watch a show or a sporting event when you’re supposed to be working.
- Adopt a healthier lifestyle. The experts at Harvard Medical School note that many aspects of a healthy lifestyle can help people to better focus. Researchers have discovered a direct link between exercise and a person’s ability to pay attention, noting that exercise increases the availability of brain chemicals that reduce stress and improve sleep, among other things. Less stress and a good night’s rest can make it easier to focus.
An ability to focus pays myriad dividends. Individuals can try various strategies to improve their concentration skills and reap the rewards that such improvement provides.