The X factor is whether or not the quality of that progress stays the same when concentration is decreased. On second thought, should we call it the Q factor, for Quality?
Concentration is the ability to think about absolutely nothing when it is absolutely necessary. But today’s technology, constant noise, and too busy lifestyles function as “weapons of mass distraction”; they prevent us from creating the void necessary to think clearly. This becomes worrisome if we believe that being unable to concentrate is “like opening one’s eyes without seeing anything.” Let’s explore key facts.
The formula for success is simple: practice and concentration then more practice and more concentration. Let’s take that a step further and practice concentrating. It is possible to build our ability to concentrate like we would to build muscle mass. Start off slow, maybe 5-6 minutes of concentrating and then take a break. With practice, we can gradually increase concentration time and decrease the breaks.
Give it a break
Our ability to concentrate is not endless. And if concentration is equal to zero, it does not matter how much time we put in because progress will be zero. Studies have shown that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity. Conversely, skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion. We typically do not
start a second rep of biceps curls without taking a break in between.
By recognizing our limits, we will optimize our time. Consider stretching, taking a quick walk, checking email, playing a round of Candy Crush, or eating.
“If you snooze you lose” does not necessarily apply to concentration. A lack of sleep can make our minds scattered and lethargic. The end result is that it takes more time to finish the task at hand (and don’t forget the X factor addressing quality). Still don’t believe me?
Statistics have shown that drowsy driving can be just as fatal as driving drunk! Like alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases our risk of crashing.
Raising our heart rate and breaking a sweat is one of the best ways to clear a distracted mind. In fact, some of my best studying during college and med school occurred while on the elliptical machine and
treadmill. It’s like killing two birds with one stone. And a little secret… shhhhh… I write most of my articles while walking on the treadmill. In fact, I am doing it now!
Location, location, location
Choose a place free of distractions. In other words, an office space or library is a more nurturing environment for concentrating than a shared living room with the television on. When at work, decrease distractions. Close down our email and cellular phone so the constant “dings” and alerts do not function like an alarm clock and disturb us
Middle of the road
After eating a heavy meal, blood flow gets diverted from the brain to the stomach to provide the energy to digest the meal. On the other hand, hunger pangs and a growling stomach can prevent us from concentrating. Choose healthy snacks such as nuts, fruit, low fat yogurt, or granola to provide an energy boost.
Spending the time to concentrate will equal progress. This means doing absolutely nothing when it is absolutely necessary. Let’s brush aside the haze that prevents us from seeing clearly when we open our eyes.
After all, “Success in life is a matter not so much of talent as of concentration and perseverance.” C.W. Wendte.
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This article is for general information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions and cannot substitute for the advice from your medical professional. Dr. Nina has used all reasonable care in compiling the current information but it may not apply to you and your symptoms. Always consult a doctor or
other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.