It should come as no surprise that people today have a shorter attention span than goldfish. It’s true! As long as our dependence on technology goes up, our attention span will continue to decline.
So, how can you boost focus and concentration in today’s digital age? With the right tools, you can train your brain to become stronger. Like a muscle, it takes practice, but over time you will see positive results.
Here are seven lifestyle changes you can make today to improve cognitive function:
1. Simplify your life
For many of us, our attention is usually split in ten different directions due to our lifestyle. While there are some things you can’t control, like a demanding, high-pressure job, you can learn how to consolidate and get organized. If you feel like you are being spread too thin, make sure to prioritize your time effectively.
Take a look at your to-do list. Keep what’s important and cut what doesn’t need to be done today. Keep in mind it helps to do the most challenging tasks first while you have the most energy and focus.
This can also apply to your personal relationships. Are there any personal or professional relationships in your life that are toxic? While you can’t control who you work with, you can control how you interact with them. Whenever possible, surround yourself with positive people and minimize contact with those who drain your energy.
Also, get rid of the clutter. Research shows a clear physical space also leads to a clear headspace. When your external environment is messy and disorganized, it affects your mental state more than you realize.
2. Change your diet
If you’re eating foods high in trans-fat, or processed food, this increases cholesterol and clogs your arteries, which blocks blood vessels and negatively impacts cognitive function.
Here are the top foods to boost focus and concentration:
Pass the guac, please! Filled with folate and vitamin K, avocados help prevent blood clots and improve the brain’s ability to function.
When it comes to improving mental performance, you can’t beat beets! This bright colored veggie is filled with nitrates that increase blood flow to the brain, boosting focus and concentration.
Not only is this fish delicious, but it contains omega-3 fatty acids to boost your brain health. In fact, it is scientifically-proven to help prevent ADHD in children!
Also, the time of day you’re eating matters. It’s common knowledge that eating breakfast is important, but do you know why? When you start your day eating healthily, this sets a positive tone and increases your focus at the beginning of the day.
Want to keep your mental ability sharp? Get moving.
In a study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, aerobic exercise was shown to improve cognitive function and concentration.
Results concluded, “There was a significant improvement in motor praxis, vasomotor organization, thinking operations, and attention and concentration among older adults. In conclusion, moderate aerobic training for 24 weeks has a positive significant effect in improving cognitive functions via modulating redox and inflammatory status of older adults.”
In addition, according to research published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills, that a session of high-intensity training boosted cognitive function, specifically attention and short-term memory.
4. Improve your work-life balance
In today’s fast-paced work culture, setting aside time for ourselves seems like a luxury many of us can’t afford.
According to study published by the Harvard Business Review taking time off boosts focus, job performance and overall satisfaction. Here’s why:
“Responsiveness breeds the need for more responsiveness. When people are ‘always on,’ responsiveness becomes ingrained in the way they work, expected by clients and partners, and even institutionalized in performance metrics. There is no impetus to explore whether the work actually requires 24/7 responsiveness; to the contrary, people just work harder and longer, without considering how they could work better. Yet, what we discovered is that the cycle of 24/7 responsiveness can be broken if people collectively challenge the mind-set. Furthermore, new ways of working can be found that benefit not just individuals but the organization, which gains in quality and efficiency—and, in the long run, experiences higher retention of more of its best people.”
Taking a step back and returning to a task increases quality and efficiency.
What activities recharge your batteries? Exercising, meditation, whatever it may be – make sure to create space in your schedule to do the things you enjoy. It’s important to learn how to say no. Remember, self-care isn’t selfish.
“Whether it’s a co-worker asking you to spearhead an extra project or your child’s teacher asking you to organize a class party, remember that it’s OK to respectfully say no,” the Mayo Clinic reports. “When you quit accepting tasks out of guilt or a false sense of obligation, you’ll have more time for activities that are meaningful to you.”
5 Take a break from technology
nplugging isn’t always easy, but it’s essential for your mental state. Not to mention it’s disruptive – you will be much more productive by eliminating the distraction.
“Even if you live and die by email, do yourself a favor and log out for 30 minutes either in the beginning of the day or for a period in the afternoon,” says Jan Bruce, coauthor of meQuilibrium: 14 Days to Cooler, Calmer, and Happier. “You won’t believe how much you can get done when you’re not always interrupting yourself to return emails.”
Not only will you be more productive, but think about who you could meet when you look up from your screen. Opportunities are all around you, but if you are too busy browsing through social media you’ll miss out. Whether it’s your next job lead or romantic partner, your scattered attention is preventing you from making connections.