Especially digital natives – people who grew up in the digital world – often cannot focus on one single thing for an extended period of time due to overstimulation. However, it must be difficult for almost everyone to concentrate on nothing but work for 8 hours straight. For this reason I have gathered some tips which will help you to concentrate better and improve your productivity.
It might seem quite unrealistic to some but: you should sleep 8 hours a night. Lacking sleep, our brain cannot function properly and we achieve less. In order to fall asleep faster, it is best to skip the coffee in the afternoon and try one of the stimulants without caffeine mentioned below. Also, relaxation exercises can help the body calm down. For an optimized sleep you should physically exercise one hour before bedtime.
For the long term you should try to take on a regular sleeping pattern, meaning trying to go to bed and get up at approximately the same time every day. This leads to a better balance and lets you fall asleep faster at night. But do not expect any miracles, a healthy sleeping rhythm does not come over night – give your body time to adjust to the changes.
Establish an appropriate working environment for yourself
This environment looks different for everyone. Some people need absolute silence to be able to concentrate. In open-plan offices noise-cancelling headphones or Oropax might help. Others can only concentrate, if there is anything in the background like street noise or usual office noises. However, studies have found that most people concentrate best while listening to music. Beside classical music, rock music is most beneficial for productivity.
Especially important for everyone, though, is oxygen. Therefore, try to air your room at least every hour – depending on room size and people present.
Make short breaks regularly
The average adult can concentrate for about 30 to 45 minutes. After that, focus decreases steadily. In order to be able to work concentrated for a longer period of time, it is important to make short breaks every 90 minutes which can be used consciously – for example for little stretching exercises.
Try to refocus quickly after lunch break
Everyone has felt tired and unproductive after lunch before. Here are a few tips to help you get over that phase after a good meal quickly:
- Stimulate circulation. A short walk after lunch and a little cold water on arms or face stimulate circulation and wake you up.
- Coffee. The most popular stimulant is coffee still. But why don’t you try your next one with vanilla and cinnamon instead of the usual milk and sugar? The former minimize your craving for something sweet after lunch and also stimulate circulation. Also, you should try not to consume too much coffee because your body might get used to the increased amount of caffeine. As a result, you will slowly need more and more coffee to have the wanted effect on your body.
- Freshly pressed juice gives you extra energy after your meal when your body is busy digesting your food.
Not only at work but in general it is important to drink enough water – especially on hot days. In order to stay provided, you need to drink between 1.5 to 3 liters a day, depending on body height and level of activity. Drinking enough water prevents headaches and tiredness and promotes concentration. But don’t forget to drink regularly – little reminders might help you not to forget. Try to drink every time a colleague takes a sip. Or set a timer on your cellphone which reminds you to drink about every 15 minutes. This way you stay provided the entire day and feel fitter when you leave the office.
The final spurt
Should you not be one of the lucky people that can reduce overtime or that can leave early thanks to the 6-hour workday, you now have to bring yourself to focus for those last two hours. Many now turn to candy or energy-drinks. These, however, contain sugar which has the opposite effect of what we want – it makes you tired.
Try green tea or coconut milk instead! Green tea contains lots of natural caffeine, so side effects like shaking hands occurring after drinking coffee can be prevented. For those who want to stay away from caffeine altogether, coconut milk may be an alternative: It decreases the risks of suffering from arteriosclerosis or heart attack and stimulates circulation – perfect for an energy boost in the afternoon!
Train your brain
Independent from other factors that make it easier for you to concentrate at work, you can mentally exercise by doing specifically targeted quizzes and concentration exercises to improve your attention span. In the beginning often even small exercises like solving Sudoku-puzzles might help you. Later on you can do specified and more difficult exercises online.