Many people find it more and more challenging to focus on the task at hand. Whether studying for an exam, working on a project, or conversing with loved ones, staying focused can be difficult.
Did you know that your habits can rob you of concentration? Take a look at five everyday practices that may be impacting your attention span.
1. Poor Diet
An unhealthy meal plan can impair cognitive functioning and negatively impact your productivity. Processed foods, such as salty snacks, refined white bread, and sweets, can cause a sugar crash after eating them, leaving you tired and unfocused. To stay productive throughout the day, opt for natural alternatives such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. These nutritious options provide sustained energy to aid your attentiveness.
Aim for a balanced diet that ensures you receive all the necessary nutrients. Such nutritional requirements vary by individual, so it’s always wise to consult a physician or nutritionist before making dietary changes. You may find it helpful to investigate vitamin and mineral supplements that can support your meal plan with health-friendly ingredients like B12, magnesium, and selenium. Such supplements may help you maintain cognitive function and optimize your energy levels.
2. Insufficient Sleep
To accomplish as much as possible, many folks burn the candle at both ends. Unsurprisingly, not getting sufficient sleep can have physical and mental consequences. Lack of sleep impairs cognitive functioning, making it difficult to concentrate on tasks or think clearly. Experts, such as the folks at Johns Hopkins Medicine, often recommend seven to nine hours per night to maximize concentration levels during waking hours.
3. Inactive Lifestyle
In contrast to not resting enough, an inactive lifestyle can also raise fatigue levels. A sedentary routine can lead to difficulty concentrating. Regular exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which helps with memory recall and the ability to focus. Don’t forget to take a break from your desk or sofa every once in a while. Go for a walk or do some stretches for the sake of your mind.
4. Lack of a Schedule
Establishing routines or schedules helps create structure in life, which enables you to anticipate what needs to get done and when without having to overthink things. Consistency also allows you to manage your time better and avoid wasting precious energy worrying about if you handled a task correctly or used your resources wisely.
Use a few minutes at the start and end of each day, week, and month to plan things out. With less worry, fatigue, and distraction, you support your overall attention span and focus.
5. Overstimulating Environment
Working in an overstimulating environment, such as an office full of people talking or even just music playing in the background, can distract you and decrease your productivity. Experts at the National Library of Medicine and others often refer to this as “cognitive overload.”
Your desk and office space should be uncluttered and clean, with soothing scents, colors, and decorations that don’t distract you. If you play music or background noise, opt for sounds that do not remove your attention from your current project.
People once considered the ability to multitask a worthwhile and attainable goal. However, switching back and forth between duties can decrease the quality of your work and focus. This is because when you try to do many things simultaneously, your mind gets tired, and it’s harder to do any of them as well as you would if you did them one at a time.
Instead of trying to alternate between numerous tasks in a session, create a schedule that allows you to dedicate a reasonable amount of time to each job. Take a brief intermission to recharge after focusing on an assignment for a while, then move on to another task, putting your total concentration on that.
If you find yourself constantly struggling with concentration, look at your habits first. You may find that they are robbing you of concentration and focus! Minor changes to your diet, sleep, exercise, schedule, and environment can set you up for success. You might optimize not only your focus but your overall quality of life, too.