3 Unique Ways To Focus The Distracted MindAug 29, 2019
Have you ever sat down to do some work or get something done and noticed your mind jumping around from one thought to another in a constant state of flux? This is commonly known as “monkey mind”.
I know monkey mind well, and I know my clients do too. Many of us are struggling with not being able to concentrate and focus on one thing easily. It is all too common that we get started on something and then the phone beeps, an email pops up or someone calls, and our attention is interrupted.
It is not surprising the mind gets so distracted. We are receiving more information than ever before and are so connected to our technology that our brains have precious little mental space for calm and clarity.
There is a cost to all this multi-tasking and mental juggling. Research has shown that multitasking inhibits productivity and efficiency through the cumulative time it takes to switch mental processes. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that the brain has to make a choice to switch off from one task (i.e. turning off one set of cognitive processes) and then to switch to a different task, which in turns means switching on new cognitive rules. This takes more time and mental energy than just focusing on one task at a time.
Here are some useful tips I’ve discovered on how to increase your concentration and focus. If you prefer to listen to me talk about them rather than read you can watch me HERE.
1. Binaural Beats
Ever heard of these? I have become quite interested in binaural beats recently. This is a kind of soundwave therapy that research has shown may help you improve your concentration and focus (as well as anxiety, stress, motivation, etc).
The binaural beat is where the right and left ear hear two slightly different frequency tones yet perceive them as the same. There are four different frequency patterns, delta, theta, alpha and beta patterns.
For focus and concentration, you want to use the beta pattern, which is between 14 Hz and 30Hz (for anxiety you would use theta (4 to 8 Hz)). You can find lots of FREE binaural beats on Youtube and on Spotify. There is even one called Binaural Beats Focus on Spotify.
It’s best to use headphones to listen (so it can channel the different frequencies into each ear) and practice it without distraction.
2. Peppermint Oil
Our sense of smell has a very powerful impact on our brain function. Brain scans have shown that any odor you smell affects the limbic region of the brain, which includes the hippocampus and amygdala. This part of the brain governs emotional processing, motivation, fear, pleasure & impacts our learning and memory.
One study conducted in by the University of Cincinnati showed that smelling peppermint essential oil enhanced alertness, focus, and concentration. A later study showed this was not achieved through eating or drinking peppermint.
If I am feeling distracted I simply smell peppermint oil from the bottle or add it a roller bottle with some carrier oil and apply it to my neck and temples. I recommend 100% pure doTERRA Peppermint oil.
3. Pomodoro Method
One technique I have found that has helped me to stay focused and on the task at a time is using the Pomodoro method to manage my time. This concept was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s in Italy. Pomodoro was named after his tomato-shaped timer he used to measure the time intervals.
The idea is to break down your work into smaller intervals and take mini-breaks. Each interval is usually 25 minutes. After every 25 minutes of focused work, you take a 3 to 5-minute break. After four sets of 25 minutes, you take a longer break, say 15 – 30 minutes. Think of it as working in short productive sprints and then having some little recovery time.
There are plenty of Pomodoro apps you can work from (or just use a simple timer yourself). I personally like an app designed for productivity and focus called Forest, you can set the time you want and each interval you grow an imaginary tree. If you touch your phone (and get distracted) your tree will stop growing, and may even die!
There are many other tools that can also help focus and concentration, such as meditation, mindfulness, switching of alerts and notifications on phones and gadgets plus plenty more. Find the ones that work for you.
I would love to hear how you get on.