Four Quick Concentration Exercises

Put your iphone down. Right now. In today’s day and age we have so many different things that try to take our attention. Yesterday I found a lady in my office who has to sit in front of five different screens! I have no idea what she does, but sitting in front of so many screens must make her feel important.

Lately, I have been having trouble with my concentration levels, my patience and… what was the other thing?

I don’t even remember.

Anyhoo, let’s learn together here, kids. I have been researching ways to improve your levels of concentration. Here are my essential tips. If you have any that I’ve missed, I’d love you to share them with me.

1. Visualize

The occipital lobes are your brain’s visual processing centre. They collect and categorise visual data and routes it to other parts of your brain for identification and storage.

Your memory is where you store both imagined and real autobiographical events. There are studies that suggest the differentiation between real and imaginary is less apparent for children, meaning that things they imagine to be real are quite real to them (for example imagining a ‘monster under the bed’).

Studies have demonstrated that you can engage your occipital lobes by using your imagination to ‘visualize’ yourself doing a task over and over (for example, if you were a surgeon you would be mentally practising an operation) this will improve your performance of the action in real life. However, you have to be imagining it as closely as possible – not just day dreaming.

2. Return to the five senses

When we feel really stressed, or when there is a lot going on, it pays to return to who we really are? So who the hell are we? It’s a big question but for the purposes of this post – you are just a breathing bag of skin, muscle, organs and emotions. Use five minutes to pay close attention to your breathing, breathe in and out. Focus on the air going in and out.

Then think – what can I hear, feel, taste and smell? Return to your five senses for a short time and try to concentrate on really feeling these faculties at work. You are a living, breathing receptacle for the world – what is it trying to communicate to you today? Pay attention.

3. Select the most relevant information only

There have been studies that show that your intelligence level depends on how selective you are when remembering information. This is called ‘selective attention’. Selective attention makes your working memory capacity greater as it allows you to prioritize important, often-used information above unimportant, little-used information.

Many people think that ‘more facts’ in your brain equals ‘more intelligence’, but this is not the case. Some studies have indicated that intelligence is more about how you control the ‘spotlight’ of your attention, giving prominence to important, useful facts above others. Students who score higher on intelligence tests tend to be better at controlling the spotlight of their attention.

4. Transform information

Transform information, don’t memorize it. Brain function is not just about having a good memory, it’s about turning the information you gather into bigger ideas. In fact, if you try to remember too many details, this can actually impinge on your focus. Einstein had been known to tell people that he had a bad memory, but this did not affect his ability to reason and transform information.

To really know that you have taken something in, you need to engage with the content. This can mean learning a song to memorize a fact or doing a role play activity to help you engage with the information in another way.

The five essential entrepreneurial skills for success: Concentration, Discrimination, Organization, Innovation and Communication.

Harold S. Geneen

Do you agree? How is your level of concentration? What tools and tricks have you found essential?

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