Concentration refers to the mental effort you put or direct towards whatever you're working on or learning at the moment. Concentration arises when a person is mentally and physically engaged in the same work and is not distracted by other things. Concentration assists in studying, enables faster comprehension, improves your memory, helps in completing tasks, a job, or a goal, on time and enables you to ignore meaningless and irrelevant thoughts.

But is not very easy to concentrate on everything at all times because human beings often tend to get distracted by seeing things around them. No matter where or what you are working on, there are distracting things everywhere.  

The human mind cannot ignore the clamour surrounding it. Even the slightest movement in the surrounding environment is enough to distract you. 

A large number of factors play a role in aiding or improving your concentration - your environment, mindset, nutrition, and your mood. There are many ways that you can adopt to improve your concentration but let's take a look at certain factors that can lower your concentration levels. 

1. Fatigue and emotional stress. Fatigue is a term used to describe an overall feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. Emotional stress is defined as the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope with certain situations. 

Being physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted or fatigued can make you irritated, uninterested and lose concentration. 

2. Improper sleep or poor sleep. Your sleep affects every aspect of your life. Poor or disturbed sleep can lead to a bad mood, low energy, irritability, reduced focus, and less concentration. 

3. Improper diet. Proper and balanced eating is very important to maintain a balance in your body and mind, and if you do not eat properly at the right time, it causes weakness in your body, resulting in illness and infections. Your mind may also get tired quickly and you would not be able to concentrate on most things. 

4. Surrounding atmosphere. If you work or study in a dark, cluttered, noisy, or in an unclean environment, you are most likely to be distracted and may easily lose your concentration.  

10 Ways To Improve Concentration And Boost Your Brain Function

It will take some real effort on your part and you may have to make some changes to your daily habits. 

Certain lifestyle modifications that can help you improve your concentration levels are: 

1.  Work in a quiet and peaceful place. Your ability to focus and work without interruptions will be relatively higher in a  quiet work environment. Minimize the sources of distraction in your immediate environment. It can be as simple as turning off the radio or the TV, removing everything that is not necessary such as extra stationery, coffee mugs, or books from your work table and preferably sitting alone in a quiet, spacious room. It is also very important to sit in a well-lit, airy room that is clean and dust-free to help improve your concentration.

When your workplace is clean and free of clutter, you'll find it easier to stay organized, be less distracted and increase your productivity owing to better concentration.

2. Prioritize with the help of to-do lists and work plans. The better the plan you have, the easier it is to finish your tasks on time. Creating a daily task plan will help you allocate time to urgent and important tasks. If your time is divided well, you will be able to concentrate on that particular task and you will be motivated to complete it as per your plan or schedule. 

You can use various fun task planners or simply write down the tasks and allocate time against each in your diary or notebook. A whole lot of colourful to-do task lists are available for free online. Just print a couple of them and you are good to go. 

Following a plan will not get you distracted and allow you to focus on the task at hand.

3. Avoid multitasking. Multitasking is the performance of more than one task at the same time. Although multitasking is appreciated at times, it is always better to do one task at a time. 

Multitasking will not help you achieve concentration. When you have a lot of work in front of you, you will not be able to focus on the particular work that you are doing. You should do a single task at a time, think only about that, and set different times for each task.

4. Always think positive and avoid negative thoughts. A positive mindset will give you more confidence, improve your mood and help you concentrate better. Every time you get distracted with negative thoughts or feelings, remember to pause for a second and tell yourself, “I can do this. I love my work and I am about to finish it”.

Negative thoughts or a negative mindset will distract you, bring your mood down, waste your time and energy. Positive thinking will help you focus on completing your task and allow you to move onto the next one or simply get some rest.

5. Understand your work. The better you understand your work, the better you will be able to concentrate on getting it done. If you do not have a proper idea of what you are going to do, you can get irritated, feel lost and it becomes more difficult to concentrate. Make an overview and prepare basic outlines and concepts before starting your work every day.

6. Get enough rest. Proper rest or sleep is essential to help you finish your work with concentration. Proper sleep allows your mind to be calm and relaxed, which is necessary to maintain concentration. Sleeping well will improve your overall energy levels, keep your mood happy and positive, both of which are needed for better concentration.

7. Maintain discipline. Discipline is also very important for concentration. Discipline is the practice of obeying rules or standards of behaviour. To be disciplined means to finish your tasks on time, following the set code of conduct and procedures. 

Being disciplined will help you get less distracted by things around you and improve your concentration. Following a work plan is an example of being disciplined. 

8. Practice meditation. Meditation is a practice where you use a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing your mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to develop attention, awareness, and concentration. Meditation relieves stress and helps to keep your mind calm and focused. It also reduces anger and irritability that can cause distraction and increases concentration. 

9. Stay physically active. Whether you enjoy exercising or doing yoga, or simply doing household chores, staying physically active will help you stay focussed.

Staying physically active releases the “feel good” or “happy hormones”, namely DOSE—Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphin— in your brain. These can also be called your “success hormones” because apart from a happy mood, they give you optimism, energy, concentration, and confidence. 

10. Taking breaks is very important. Your concentration will begin to break down if you try to do the same task for a long time. And once this starts to happen, it becomes even more difficult for you to concentrate and finish your task. Taking short and frequent breaks will allow you to replenish your energy, get your mind clear, and help you get back to work with better concentration. 

Studies indicate that even taking very brief breaks by shifting your attention elsewhere can dramatically improve mental focus. So, the next time you are making your daily work plan, don’t forget to slot in some break times of 5 to 15 minutes after every hour and a half to two hours, or whatever is comfortable for you.

Building your concentration is not something that will happen overnight. The first step is to recognize your sources of distraction and the impact of each of them on your personal and work life. Start with the above recommendations and notice the changes. Being able to concentrate will only bring you more joy, success and satisfaction. 

Talk to your physician or mental health professional if you are finding it difficult to concentrate, even on the slightest tasks on a daily basis.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.