17 Life Coaching Tricks To Improve Focus & Concentration

Being able to concentrate is one of the keys to increasing your productivity. It doesn’t matter what you’re working on, whether it’s a report related to work or a hobby project out in your garage, if you can’t focus on the task at hand, it will either not get done or not get done right.

Researchers have been able to show pretty conclusively that an inability to concentrate results in errors and mistakes and generally slows productivity in any environment.

Whether you’re being distracted by employers, coworkers, phone calls, family members or random thoughts and worries, every time we restart a task we have to spend time getting back up to speed or back to our frame of mind.

This can take anywhere from a few seconds to a half hour or longer, depending on the complexity of the project and the length of the interruption. This can cause a project to drag out longer than it has to or result in shoddy, inconsistent work.

Sometimes we are working on multiple tasks at a time, such as writing a report in between meetings and phone calls, with the belief that we are being more productive. This is commonly referred to as ‘multi-tasking’. However, it’s really a series of planned interruptions or distractions and it has the same negative effect on your work as any other sort of distraction.

However, research has shown that if you can set aside blocks of time to concentrate on a task or project, or learn to avoid distractions, you can usually complete it in less time with more consistency and fewer errors.

To help you increase your productivity through better concentration and focus, here are a few life coaching suggestions for building concentration skills and eliminating distractions:

1. Practice Concentrating

An athlete doesn’t just engage his sport during competitions. He practices various aspect of his sport when failure and success don’t matter. Likewise, practice concentrating when you don’t have to so that you’ll perform better when you do. The next two suggestions are exercises to help you practice.

2. Candle Watching

As an exercise, light a candle and practice concentrating on the flame. Just notice its colors and movement. Don’t analyze anything about the flame, just watch it and notice it. If your mind starts to wander, bring your attention back to the flame. Set a timer and practice for 5 minutes at a time.

3. Observe Breathing and Heart Beat

This exercise is similar to candle watching, but you’re going to focus on feeling your breath and heart beat. Since no external device is required, this can be done anywhere. This is an easy one to share with life coaching clients.

4. Separate Yourself from Your Environment

When reading or working at the computer, imagine sound-proof walls coming up around you and separating you from your surroundings. This is particularly useful if you have to work in a noisy or busy environment.

5. Set Goals

Having something to shoot for can help you focus on your work. The goal can be something you’ll receive by finishing the project, a time limit or a reward you’ll give yourself when the task is done.

6. Limit Focus Time

When you have to focus intensely, don’t do so for more than 60 to 90 minutes at a time. Just as your body needs a rest from time to time, so does your mind and the harder it’s working the more often it needs a break.

7. Avoid Stimulants

Stimulants, like caffeine and sugar, may energize, but they can also make it difficult to concentrate.

8. Allow Time for Mental Wandering

Your mind is kind of like a closet. If you just keep throwing things in, it becomes cluttered and disorganized.

Once in a while you have to pull everything out to see what’s there and put it back in orderly fashion so that you have more room and can find things more easily. Allowing your mind to wander from time to time increases its capacity to handle periods of concentration.

9. Write Down To-do List & Distracting Thoughts

Write down things you need to remember and thoughts that are distracting so that you can come back to them later and free your mind to concentrate now.

10. Use a Do-Not-Disturb Sign and Turn Off TV, Radio, Telephone, E-mail, and Internet

Let others know that you don’t want to be disturbed and eliminate as many avenues of interruption as possible. Sometimes this may mean working in an unusual location. Occasionally I’ll take my notebook computer to the basement to work because nobody disturbs me there.

11. Eliminate Distractions Ahead of Time

If you know something is likely to come up during your focus time, try to deal with it before you get started. This includes getting a snack or drink if you are likely to get hungry or thirsty while working.

12. Notice Distracting Thoughts and Cut Them Off

If you catch your thoughts wandering, bring them back to focus. If you can’t do it just mentally, try the next suggestion:

13. Do Something Physical to Re-establish Focus

Sometimes we need a physical cue to re-establish focus. Writing or typing anything or picking up a tool can help you get your mind back to the task. Or use the ‘Tunnel Vision’ method and cup your hands around your eyes like blinders on a horse and aim your vision at the work to be done.

14. Develop an Interest in Your Task

It’s easier to focus on something you’re interested in. Think about any aspect of the task that makes it interesting. If the subject doesn’t interest you, maybe you can find interest in how the task will benefit you or someone else.

15. Recognize Conditions that Promote Concentration

When do you find it easiest to concentrate? When the light is bright or dim? When there’s silence or when there’s background noise? Do you concentrate better in a cleared space or do you focus better surrounded by clutter? Can you concentrate better when you’re alert or when you’re calm and maybe a little tired?

Plan your concentration periods for when circumstances are best. This is a great tip to share with life coaching clients who may need more focus and attention.

16. Create a Space for Working and Concentrating

Once you know what conditions promote your ability to concentrate, set up your workspace to implement as many of them as possible or find a location that facilitates concentration.

17. Practice the 5 More Rule

To increase the length of time in which you can comfortably concentrate, every time you feel like taking a break force yourself to go five minutes more and then take your break. Or, if you are working on a series of tasks or items like assembly or database entries, force yourself to do five more before taking a break.

This will extend your concentration endurance.

Comments

  1. Engy Elbardissy says:

    Dear Mr. Rodger
    I’m really proud to be taught by you the secrets of how to get things done and the mechanisms needed to transform written goals into reality and great achievements.
    Self-esteem, self-confidence, physical vitality, thought control, willpower are terms added to my dictionary after your appreciated support.
    Thanks for your efforts that changed my life dramatically. Now i’m living my dreams.
    Engy

  2. Engy Elbardissy says:

    Does point “4. Separate Yourself from Your Environment” mean an instruction to my RAS that i wouldn’t like to recieve anything irrelevant to the task at hand.
    Only bring to my attention relevant information to the current task, and anything else treat it as ‘background noise’ that should fade away?

    • Rodger Constandse says:

      Yes, you can think it as a “trick” for telling your RAS to only focus on the task at hand and ignore all the irrelevant background stuff.

  3. thank you so much for this article! i’m reviewing for the bar exams but the my environment is too noisy for concentration and the sad part is i can’t control it. i always have a hard time concentrating that i can’t finish my scheduled reading task for the day. this article helped me a lot in looking for ways to concentrate in the midst of noise. thank you! 🙂 i have a question though, what would you do if it is the room mate that is the primary reason of the distracting environment? i told her upfront how she distracts me to know avail. thanks again for the tips!

    • Rodger Constandse says:

      Hi Di,

      If you can’t get your roommate to cooperate, I would consider going somewhere else for your reading tasks. Go to a different environment that is more supportive of reading, like a library or study hall.

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