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Concentration, Distraction & Focus

Intro: Life Hacks / Pro Tips

Jim’s recommendations for improving concentration, reducing distraction, and enabling focus.   

First, a disclaimer. Quick tips usually do not work. However, behavior change does. Finding personal motivation for change is a first hurdle to self-improvement. If you take away nothing else from this guide, consider the following to improve your focus and concentration, and to boost cognitive control.

  1. Objectively and factually understand how much sleep you get, understand how much sleep you need, and if you are not getting enough consistent, quality, and quantity of sleep, do something about it now. This top priority cannot be over stated. Sleep questionnaires on this LibGuide.
  2. When reading content online from commercial providers, use a reader’s view option that strips away ads and clearly presents the text of the article.
  3. Turn off notifications and alerts for non-essential apps and messages. Log out of apps and websites you wish to make less appealing to open back up. Unsubscribe from all unwanted emails.
  4. Exercise, meditation, and spending unplugged time help boost cognitive control. Adopting mindfulness practices that bring stillness into your mindset build the mental muscles to pause/respond to inputs rather than being jerked around by impulsive reactions.
  5. When you have a spare 10 minutes of free time, do a physical activity, preferably unplugged from media.
  6. Spending an hour away from the physical presence (or common sources) of distractions can let you get more focused and clear your mind.
  7. When working, set times for when to invite people to interrupt you. Wear earplugs, earphones with sound or noise cancelling technology that helps you focus. Visually clear work areas. Consider if wearing a visor to limit peripheral vision would work for you.   
  8. Go for walk, preferably outdoors, unconnected from media engagement and entertainment.
  9. When reading, annotate with your own thoughts, reactions, emotions, questions, and summaries.