It’s frustrating when your inability to concentrate and focus slows down progress on a work project or causes you to work overtime. Not only is it stressful, but it robs you of time too. Fortunately, there are certain activities you can do to improve your ability to focus and boost concentration.
Here is a list of five activities that will help boost concentration and focus as long as you do them on a regular basis. Remember that your brain operates in a similar way as muscle. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. You must consistently train your brain and engage in concentration building activities to maintain an ability to focus well for long periods.
1. Puzzle Solving
Puzzles aren’t just cardboard pieces that you place together to form a picture. There are many types of puzzles, such as Soma cube, serpent puzzle, Rubik’s cube, and Sudoku. One of the interesting puzzles is Soma cube. It is 3x3x3 dissection puzzle that consists of seven unique pieces and 27 cubes.
The goal for solving a Soma cube puzzle is to turn it into a solid cube. There are a few rules to follow when trying to solve it as well. You can’t use more than four cubes in one piece, and each piece must have a nook or turn.
The Soma cube has been used in numerous experiments on intelligence and psychology. There is a correlation between how fast and accurately one can solve a Soma cube and IQ. Generally, the higher a person’s IQ, the faster and more accurately they can solve this puzzle.
Intellectual outliers and those with MENSA level IQ, however, had a difficult time with the Soma cube. Researchers think this is because solving a Soma cube requires spatial awareness and imagination. The good news is playing with a Soma cube can improve your brain function, develop these skills, and even help you relax as your brain engages in the puzzle.
2. Practice with the Pomodoro Technique
If you want to focus on your work for long periods of time without constantly becoming distracted or procrastinating, then you need to practice concentrating for slightly longer periods. The Pomodoro technique involves setting a timer for 15 minutes and focusing entirely on the work at hand for that duration. Once the timer dings, you may set it again for five minutes as your break time. After the short break, it’s back to focusing for 15 minutes on your work.
Each day you can add a small amount of time to how long you focus until you have reached your goal in how long you can focus on a task. It’s important for you to take breaks and at least stretch if you’ve been sitting, so we don’t recommend that you focus too long on a task. You’ve probably heard before that sitting for long periods isn’t good for you.
Get up after 45-90 minutes and take a short walk or stretch your limbs to avoid back pain and muscle tightness. If you develop back pain from not taking a break, it will impair your ability to focus, after all.
Once you are comfortable concentrating in 45-90 minute stretches, you can gradually decrease your break time to 5-10 minutes.
3. Keep a Distraction To-Do List
While you work or study, random questions sometimes pop up in your mind. As curious creatures, we feel the need to look up the answer immediately. Getting sidetracked can take up a bit of time. Moreover, it takes an average of 25 minutes to regain focus once you’ve been distracted as discovered in a study conducted by Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine.
To solve this problem and quickly get the random question or thought off of your mind, write it down on your “distraction to-do list”. When you write down the distraction that’s on your mind, it will no longer take up mental energy as you try focusing on the task at hand.
During your break or downtime, you can look at your distraction to-do list and do whatever it is that you wanted to. Maybe that was checking your Facebook or looking up whether tomatoes are a fruit or vegetable.
4. Sit in a Chair Without Moving
You should do a mixture of body and mind training exercises to boost concentration because once you find it easier to control your body, it’ll be easier to control your mind.
A simple exercise to improve focus that involves training your body to sit still is sitting in a chair without moving. The goal is to be able to sit without moving or twitching for 15 minutes. It’s important to stay relaxed during this exercise as well.
5. Watching the Second Hand on a Clock
This activity will sound boring, but that is what will help you improve your ability to focus and boost concentration. It’s easy to focus on interesting things; it’s not easy to focus on what bores you.
For this exercise, watch the second hand on a clock complete its circles. Remain focused on the second hand for five minutes. You can set a timer for five minutes to help you focus on the second hand rather than how much time has passed.
Learning how to concentrate your mind is an invaluable skill all people should master in order to put in their best work and have more control over their lives. The five practical activities and brain concentration games listed above will help you increase your ability to focus and boost concentration.
For best results, you should spend at least five minutes per day on focus building activities. Lifting weights at the gym randomly isn’t going to give you sculpted muscles. Likewise, doing brain concentration activities every once in a while isn’t that helpful.