Thursday, August 5, 2010

6 Top Concentration Killers

Straying from the task at hand? Here's how to regain your focus..

To help you concentrate, experts say you first need to identify what's derailing you. Here are six common concentration wreckers and what you can do about them.

1. Multitasking

“Multitaskers might feel like they’re getting more done, but it almost always takes longer to multitask than to devote your attention to one thing at a time.
We lose time shifting between tasks. The researchers found that people lost time when they switched between tasks. And when the tasks were more complex or unfamiliar, they took even more time to switch tasks.
The key is be choosy about when you multitask. It’s OK to talk on the phone while you’re folding the laundry, for example, but not while you’re working on a difficult or high-priority task - say, proofreading a report.

2. Boredom

Dull tasks can sap your ability to focus and make you more vulnerable to distractions.
“When you’re bored, almost anything else can be more attractive than what you’re doing.
Logan's tip: Give yourself little rewards, like a coffee or a favorite snack, for staying on task for a specific period of time.
“When a colleague of mine had to review a complex grant proposal, she rewarded herself with a chocolate-covered raisin each time she finished reading a page,” Logan says.
It’s also good to schedule breaks -- to take a 10-minute walk outside, for example -- so you’ll have something to looking forward to and a chance to recharge.
Boredom is one case when multitasking may work in your favor.
“Multitasking is often a help when you’re doing something so boring that you’re understimulated,” Palladino says.
If you’re having a hard time focusing on washing the dishes or filing your receipts, for instance, listening to the radio or texting a friend at the same time may keep you motivated.

3. Mental Distractions

When you’re worrying about money, trying to remember if you took your vitamins, and replaying a conversation in your head that didn’t go as planned, it's hard to settle down and stay focused on a project you’re trying to complete.
One way to let go of these nagging thoughts is to quickly write them down. Add items to your to-do list, for instance, or vent your frustrations in a journal entry.
If you’re stressed about a certain problem, find a time to talk about it with someone you trust. “If you have a supportive, active listener, it can help drain away some of the tension that is bouncing around in your head.
Meditation can also help.
“When you’re meditating, you learn to manage distracting thoughts so they don’t compel your attention so strongly. You discover how to refocus the attention and take it back and place it where you want it.
To learn the basic techniques of meditation - such as focusing on the sensation of breathing and then transferring that focus to other sensations in the body -- Baime recommends taking an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction class, either in person or online.

4. Electronic Interruptions

“It’s easy to fall into aiding and abetting in your own distraction by checking your email all the time,” Kegan says. “If you’re trying to concentrate, you can lose your train of thought every time you hear ‘You’ve got mail’.”
We often feel like we need to respond to an email, text, instant message, or voice mail as soon as it’s received. But Palladino suggests drawing some lines so you’re not letting technology control you.
Carve out blocks of time when you can focus on your work without electronic interruptions. Try checking your email at set times each day (rather than constantly), and close your email program the rest of the time.
It may also help to change location. Take your laptop to a spot where you know you won’t have wireless access to the Web for a few hours, for example.

5. Fatigue

Many studies show that loss of sleep impairs attention, short-term memory, and other mental functions. “Your attention falls apart when you’re sleep deprived,” Baime says. Sleep needs vary, but most adults do best with 7-9 hours of nightly sleep. Getting at least seven hours of sleep will go a long way toward improving your focus during the day.
Also, try scheduling tasks that need more concentration during the times of day when you’re feeling the most alert. “Pay attention to your own biorhythms,” Kegan says, “and learn which times of day you work best.”

6. Drug Side Effects and Other Medical Issues

If your concentration problems hamper your ability to function at work or at home, or if you’re also noticing a physical symptom like weight gain or insomnia, tell your doctor. Poor concentration can stem from conditions such as ADHD, sleep apnea, depression, anemia, or thyroid disease. Certain medications, such as those used to treat depression, epilepsy, or influenza (flu) infections, may cause concentration difficulties as a side effect, as well.

Hope this article helps us to be more focus to what ever things we do. All the best!