How To Improve Focus And Concentration - 6 Unconventional Tips That Work

Techniques on how to improve focus and concentration are different for everyone. What works for others may not work for you. In this article we present six techniques you can try straight away!

Working effectively
 — 
6
 Min read
 — 
January 11, 2021

How To Improve Focus And Concentration - 6 Unconventional Tips That Work

The office environment has its fair share of distractions. The idle chatter, the whirring of an air conditioning system, and the clatter of keyboards and mouse clicks. 

When people moved to work from home, all these distractions were gone and they believed they could (finally) focus and work in peace. 

But, working from home has its own kind of distractions as well. It can be the thought of eating the slice of cake in the fridge, phone pings, pets throwing up on keyboards, or a housemate's footsteps. 

With all these external and internal distractions, it is crucial to learn how to improve focus and concentration while working from home. 

In this article, you will learn 5 different ways to help you stay focused and motivated to be your best at work. 

6 Tips To Improve Focus And Concentration At Home

#1. Start The Day With Exercise

What you do at the start of the day sets the trajectory for the next 23 hours. This is why it’s important to do activities that prepare you to work remotely. So you can feel energetic and focused throughout the day. 

A tried and true way to start the day right is exercise. Exercise were proven to reduce stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Simultaneously, it also stimulates the production of endorphins—our natural mood elevators and relaxation. This is why people feel fantabulous while or after exercising

The key here is to sweat. Jogging, cycling, yoga, HIIT, Tabata, weight lifting, or other sweat-inducing exercises will work. Do it for 15 - 30 minutes a day, or even better, twice a day.

#2. Get Into A “Flow” State

“Flow” is the state where the task at hand sucks you in completely.

The sense of self vanishes. Time either stands still, passes too fast, or too slow. Ideas flow seamlessly. And performance goes through the roof. Some even experienced 500 - 700% creativity boost while in “flow.” 

There are specific criteria to get into the flow state and it differs from person to person. That said, there are some general rules of thumb (called triggers) to get yourself into the flow.

The 10 Triggers of Flow State:

  1. Zero external distractions. 
  2. Zero internal distractions (eg., stress and worries).
  3. Work at your best time.
  4. Listen to the right kind of music (Tip #5).
  5. Work on one task only.
  6. Task must be challenging enough but not too much.
  7. Have a clear outcome or goal.
  8. Strategically consume caffeine.
  9. Stay hydrated.
  10. Create a mental cue (eg., working in a dedicated workspace).

#3. Recharge Your Focus Level

Your focus works like a phone battery. It can deplete after hours of use and it needs to be replenished by charging it.

In this case, focus can be replenished by frequent restorative breaks and sufficient quality sleep

While most people use their phones during breaks, the brain actually didn’t get enough rest because they are putting in more information into the brain. In reality, phone breaks can lead to mental depletion and poorer performance

Instead, take restorative breaks that rejuvenate your well-being such as meditation, exercise, or walking in nature. They can give your brain the rest it deserves. 

As for sleep, quality surpasses quantity. It is not about how long you sleep, it is about how well you sleep. The better your sleep quality is, the more your focus level recharges the next morning. 

Here’s how you can improve your sleep quality:

  • Try sleeping and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes a day
  • Sleep in total darkness
  • Spend more time outside during daylight
  • Avoid bright screens 1-2 hours before bedtime
  • Exercise during the day

#4. Listen To The Right Music

Music is a mood changer. Depending on the kind of music you listen to, you can feel ecstatic on one song and depressed the next. 

The team in Enjio uses music as a mental cue to signal “it’s time to work” and eliminates external noises and internal chatter. For some of us, the right music can instantly pull us into the “flow” state. 

The right music differs from person to person, just like entering flow. 

Usually, the types of flow-inducing music are:

  • Classical music
  • Nature sounds
  • Cinematic music
  • Video game music
  • Music between 50 to 80 beats per minute
  • Your favorite music

#5. Create A “Not-To-Do” List

In contrast to the famous to-do list, a not-to-do list is a list of activities or actions you should not do while working from home. If used correctly, a not-to-do list is even more effective than a to-do list to help you improve focus and concentration.

Here’s why. 

A not-to-do list prevents you from wasting time on actions that do not feed your soul, stop you from accomplishing your goals or not necessary for you to do. A good remote worker knows how to say “no” to disempowering tasks—which can save loads of time. 

Follow these 4 steps to create a not-to-do list:

  1. Write down a list of potential candidates for your not-to-do list. Look at your schedule and note down anything you have done but not aligned with your long-term goals or drain your soul.
  2. Ask yourself, “Is this helping me to accomplish my goals?” If not, follow up with, “Will I or anyone suffer if this task doesn't get done?” If you answered “no” to both, it’s in your not-to-do list.
  3. Prepare answers to reject doing the task in your not-to-do list. Write down scripts you can use in person or over text messaging to decline the request politely.
  4. Repeat Step 1-3 for every new task. 

#6. Stand On Your Feet While Working

If you start to feel distracted and not able to focus, it might be a good idea to switch to standing while working on your tasks. 

Switching to standing can increase attention and work engagement that breaks up the monotony of seated work. Also, an hour of standing burns an extra 9 calories instead of sitting. It may not seem much but they can accumulate up to a few pounds in a year.

It is easy to incorporate standing in your work routine. For those who are new to standing while working, experts recommend to stand half the time of your total work duration. If you work 8 hours, try standing for 4 hours sporadically throughout the day. You can also create alarms to remind yourself when it is time to stand. 

Our Conclusion

Techniques on how to improve focus and concentration are different for everyone. What works for others may not work for you. 

The key here is to keep experimenting and review which works for you. 

We understand it can be tiring to keep trying just to find the method did not work as you expected. And doing new things at first can be difficult. 

This is all but a learning and growing process. With each method you try, you are opening the door to new possibilities and knowing yourself better. Who knows, you might have found the perfect “focus” technique that works on you because you have opened tens of doors. 

But if the door is not opened, all possibilities are sealed. 

Six doors are presented in front of you now:

  • Start the day with exercise.
  • Get into a “flow” state.
  • Recharge your focus level.
  • Create a “not-to-do” list.
  • Listen to the right kind of music.
  • Stand while working.

Which door are you willing to open?

Like the article? Spread the word

your resource on modern working

We go in-depth on the techniques, topics and tools needed for a new era of flexible working.

Join a readership of active nomads, freelancers and independent professionals living the new ways of work.