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Ever find yourself distracted? Struggling to keep out intrusive thoughts or easily lose focus? Whether you have a diagnosed issue with concentration like ADHD or not, there are factors at play (both internal and external) that can have a negative impact on our ability to stay focused on tasks. Here are our top tips and strategies for getting your focus groove back.
1.) Nutrition and Exercise
“You are what you eat,” or so the saying goes. Here’s the thing – it’s not wrong.
More than ever before, scientists are exploring the connection between diet and general health and wellbeing. In fact, a study conducted at Cambridge University found:
“Up to 80 % of breast, bowel and prostate cancers are attributed to dietary practices, and international comparisons show strong positive associations with meat consumption.”
It isn’t just cancers. Digestive conditions and mood swings can also be attributed to choices in nutrition.
If you want to refocus, starting with nutrition is key. If you can, eating fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and alternative sources of protein (like beans instead of meat), are a great way to improve your overall nutrition.
Exercise goes hand in hand with nutrition to impact your general health and has unexpected effects on focus.
For decades, scientists have studied the link between exercise and mood. In one study, scientists found that endorphins released during exercise have numerous implications on mood, focus, pain management and even ameliorating effects on conditions like anxiety disorders and addiction.
While life can get in the way of exercise, making time is crucial. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Do it for your health (and enjoy the happy side effect of increased concentration and productivity)!
2.) Make Your Space (inside and out!) Focus-Friendly
- Eliminate distractions — turn off the TV, close out of communication apps like Slack or Google Chat, mute your phone, close the door to your office, etc.
- Declutter and enhance your space — keep your work space tidy and aim for an aesthetic that promotes both focus and relaxation.
- Add meditation to your daily routine — a study done at UCLA confirms the impact of meditation on various aspects of our lives; meditation has been found to improve brain and immune health, while also helping us to establish more authentic and meaningful relationships. Start with 10 or 20 minutes a day to quiet your thoughts and reset your intentions. If you need some help, try apps like Calm or Headspace for guided meditation.
3.) Manage Your Energy
Focus and energy are inextricably tied together and you aren’t an endless well of either. Try journaling over a couple of weeks to get to know your energy/focus cycles — is there a pattern to the time of day when you are most productive? You can use this information to start managing your energy (and thereby harnessing your greatest focus potential). Your strategy happens in three steps:
- Prioritize — start your day by taking a few minutes to decide what your most important tasks are. This list of priorities can shift from day to day, so it is important to take a few moments to recalibrate before you dive in. Think about how your tasks are dependent on one another and work on your #1 priority task FIRST — before checking emails, before digging into lower priority tasks, before you open yourself up to any distractions.
- Stop Multi-tasking — pick ONE thing to work on and give it your undivided attention (read as, close those tabs!). Multi-tasking will cost you — you’ll find yourself paying a “switching cost” as you experience slow downs each time you switch from one task to another AND the overall quality of your work will suffer.
- Know your peaks and valleys — getting a sense of your energy patterns throughout your day will allow you to take advantage of high energy/focus times by scheduling your most demanding tasks accordingly.
4.) Train Your Brain
In the same way you need time, dedication and consistency to build muscle, you need the same commitment to build focus. Set attainable goals that scale up over time — focus on a single task for 10 minutes and then take a short break. Increase your focus duration as you feel your concentration improving.
One helpful, documented method is called the Pomodoro Technique. Set a timer for a short period (15-25 minutes) and work as focused as possible until the timer goes off. Then give yourself a short break (perhaps five minutes) and repeat the process. After four successful sessions, you take a longer break (maybe 10 or 15 minutes). Think of it like interval training or HIIT in the fitness world — rewarding yourself with breaks give you a rest while reinforcing your focus training.
You can also exercise those focus muscles in your downtime by regularly engaging in brain games. Things like Crossword, Sudoku, even jigsaw puzzles can be a fun way to increase your focus and concentration.
5.) Plus Up Your Natural Products
There are lots of vitamin regimens and supplements out there that purport to have focus-enhancing properties. Do your research before adding these to your daily routine. Add or try these kinds of products one at a time (with your doctor’s approval and supervision) and journal their effects. Our CBD Focus formulation combines CBD, CBG and Black Seed Oil to help cope with the dreaded “brain fog”.