Do you often have difficulty concentrating on tasks? Does your stress seem to increase uncontrollably no matter what you do? Does all of this fuel a never-ending cycle in which your lack of concentration increases your stress, making your concentration a little worse? Want more focus?
Do not worry! You’re not alone. Many people struggle to maintain their attention, especially when performing important tasks, and many more people feel stressed by their daily needs.
But if it’s such a common problem, why hasn’t anyone solved it? Well, in fact, science and research already have the answers to overcome these problems, if you are willing to practice them, sure. Here are 8 skills you can master to live life with greater focus and reduced stress.
1. Limited focus
Multitask It seems like a good thing, and many people pride themselves on their ability to multitask. However, it turns out that it is actually better to learn to limit focus and view rather than expand them.
- Multitasking means you get more done with lower quality.
- It is not necessarily faster to multitask; the cycle between approaches can even slow it down.
- When you focus on too many things, you can’t focus on the details properly.
- Most people who claim to be good multitaskers do it pretty bad.
Try to think of your concentration as a kind of focus of attention. By focusing attention on one task at a time, you’ll get a nice, bright view of the entire effort, rather than forcing you to look in several different directions at once.
If you need to do more than one thing to focus on (which is a common experience for neurodivergent people), try to stick to a few things as possible. It can be difficult to be aware of the dividing line between helpful multitasking and useless multitasking!
2. Make good to-do lists
In these times, there is no excuse not to use lists. You have a phone with you that probably has a notes app or you can download to-do organizers. If you haven’t already, you should get started!
Experts in productivity Explain that written action plans, whether in the form of schedules, to-do lists, or another similar option, will increase your positivity. This is because:
- It gives you a clear outline of your tasks.
- It can reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.
- Writing ranked lists will allow you to prioritize efficiently.
Not sure how to get started? Pick two or three key, most crucial and urgent tasks and put them at the top of your to-do list, then rank the rest of your tasks in order of importance. Tackle them one at a time and feel the great sense of accomplishment as you cross off each one!
3. Assessment of current focus levels
To master your stress levels and focus, you need to know how to assess your current state. This level of self-awareness doesn’t come naturally to many people, so it’s a skill that you may need to hone.
You start by trying to determine whether you are focused or not. If you are focused, you:
- Address tasks and goals as needed
- Are you able to divide large tasks into smaller ones if you have problems with them?
- You can stay alert and focus on what you are doing without having to strain
- Take regular breaks, but can get back to task relatively easily after a set period of time.
- Are you making noticeable progress on your tasks?
On the other hand, if you are not focused, you:
- Find yourself regularly dreamer, wasting a lot of time in between
- Lose track of where you are on your assignments and keep going backwards
- Feel constantly distracting you from simple ambient noises to actual interruptions
- You are not quite sure if you are progressing well or not and you keep alternating between tasks.
- Are you “winging it” when it comes to getting good quality results?
4. Deep breathing
Deep breathing is a great way to focus more on your life, staying grounded and pushing stress out of your mind. The act of focusing on yourself in the present moment is beneficial in honing your ability to stay relaxed and focused.
Research has long indicated how proper breathing exercises and techniques can improve positive thinking calming the body and mind. All of these exercises are easy to do and can be done discreetly anywhere, without interrupting spaces or letting others know what you are doing.
The chosen breathing technique or daily practice of the exercise sharpens the skill, allowing it to be more effective for you and even take less time to do. Better yet, pair it with the following number: mindfulness!
5. Using mindfulness to generate greater focus
Mindfulness has been a common part of mental wellness practice for millennia, and recent research has shown its many benefits. In fact, one of those study indicates that people who received mindfulness meditation training have better focus and lower stress levels when performing high-stress, urgent, and multitasking jobs.
What is mindfulness? It refers to the ability to keep your focus on the present without allowing your mind to drift into worries or dwell on negativity. It is usually done by concentrating on the breath, the sensations of the body, and what the senses are picking up.
Mindfulness doesn’t need to include meditation, but it can! Regardless of your preference, meditation or none, everyone can benefit from mindfulness, so put it into practice in the way you prefer. It’s harder than it sounds, but it’s also effective for reducing stress and concentrating.
6. Using SMART Goals
We’ve already talked about the importance of to-do lists. But what about, on a larger scale, beyond the simple routine of daily tasks or work-related assignments? That’s where goal setting comes in.
In your personal life, you probably want to grow and improve. You may want to acquire new skills, learn to handle certain negative traits of yours, or even get to a specific place in your life or career. These types of desires, when left unaddressed, can cause stress, as it is often quite difficult to achieve these most important goals without a proper plan. It is also difficult to focus on them if you do not set goals correctly.
A certain type of goal setting is well known for providing benefits in this regard. These goals are known as SMART goals, and research has found that they have positive effects on productivity and performance. Learning to set SMART goals is crucial on your path to a relaxed and focused life.
So what does SMART mean? This is what the acronym means:
S for specific
Goals should have a clear and straightforward definition that you cannot avoid, be confused with, or compromise with them.
M for measurable
Your progress towards your goals must be clearly traceable and measurable. The inability to determine your progress affects your motivation and can be distracting.
A for achievable
It’s always good to challenge yourself and your goals shouldn’t be easy to achieve. But at the same time, they shouldn’t be impossible. Irrational expectations can only lead to disappointment and stress.
R for Relevant
How do your goals fit in with the rest of your life or with other goals? Are they relevant to your current wishes and plans? Otherwise, it will be difficult to focus on it.
T of opportune
This means imposing “deadlines” for certain milestones in your goals.
If you’ve ever tried to really focus on something specific for an extended period of time, you’ve probably noticed that your concentration begins to drain as your stress levels rise after a while. It can even get to a point where progression is nearly impossible, and if you keep pushing, you can slip into a severe state of mental exhaustion and burn out.
There are some explanations why this happens. Common beliefs include:
- The brain has already used up its resources and cannot spend more.
- The brain tends to ignore uninterrupted sources of stimulation, which means that constantly concentrating on the same task for too long becomes too boring for the brain.
- Constant work and effort tires the mind in the same way that exercise tires the body.
Regardless of what belief you follow, research has shown that diverting your attention from tasks for a short, concise period of time can positively affect your ability to concentrate. A short break may be necessary to stay focused and produce good quality work.
Unfortunately, many people think that resting is synonymous with laziness. Furthermore, they have trouble realizing when they need a break. Learning to walk away and rest quickly is a difficult skill to learn after years of conditioning to the contrary, but you can do it!
8. Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a common calming technique. It works by evoking relaxation and positive thinking by individually tensing and relaxing separate muscle groups in the body, one at a time.
Muscles and the human body in general often contain a lot of excessive tension due to mental stress, and most people are not naturally aware of that tension. Progressive muscle relaxation allows each muscle group to release that tension it has, providing an effect almost similar to that of a massage.
To perform progressive muscle relaxation, start at the forehead. Focus on the muscles in that area, tense, and then release. Continue down your body until you reach your toes. At first it may be difficult to focus on it, but eventually, you will become adept at noticing muscle tension and relaxing your body in this way.
Living life with a short attention span and a lot of stress on your shoulders is far from ideal. You can learn to master these specific skills and better control how you handle this type of stress. Once you’ve honed these skills, better concentration and better stress management techniques will soon follow.