7 Ways to Keep Your Concentration Sharp

4 min read
Evidence based
Psychiatrist and Sensa consultant dr. Monisha Vasa
By Monisha Vasa, MD Updated on 2024 Jan 22

Be honest – what are you thinking about right now? Is your mind juggling several ideas, or maybe you’re skimming through this article instead of working?

Our brains are truly phenomenal. They work non-stop and are capable of doing so many things at once as if they just can’t get enough! 

But sometimes, that can pose a problem, especially if you need to focus on a single task at hand. And since you’re here, you’re likely struggling with your concentration at the moment. 

Don’t worry; we’ve got your back – here are 7 nifty ways to get your focus laser sharp!

#1 Reevaluate your daily habits

Although your concentration issues might lie somewhere else, like having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it’s essential to check your daily routine – the culprit might be found there.

There are a few routinely things that can impact your focus:

  • Sleep schedule
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise levels

Take a moment to consider whether you get enough sleep – an average adult needs 7 or more hours of sleep every night. How about your food? Are your meals balanced and rich in nutrients? No wonder you can’t keep concentrating if you don’t fuel your brain properly! 

Also, keep in mind that exercising regularly can help relax your tense muscles, which will assist in keeping your focus sharper.

#2 Reduce multitasking

The modern world is chaotic, and there are always hundreds of things to do and think about. Hence, we multitask to keep up with our lives.

Sadly, constant multitasking results in a poor focus on everything you’re doing. Think of it like this – if you’re doing two tasks at once, there’s no way you can give both of them your 100%.

Try to reduce multitasking to keep your attention straight on a single task. Prioritizing mentally or writing down a to-do list can be of tremendous help.

#3 Take a break

Yes, all these projects must be done, but pushing yourself past your limit will not help you achieve those goals.

If your mind is wandering and you can’t get back on track, don’t hesitate to take a short break. Use 5 minutes to relax, detach from whatever you were doing, and get back to work with a refreshed mind.

You might also benefit from certain time management techniques that help you distinguish between working and resting. Try applying the Pomodoro Technique or the Pickle Jar Theory to remind yourself about taking time to rest.

#4 Have a focus buddy

Two heads are better than one – have a friend, a family member, or a coworker help you if you struggle with concentration.

Develop a unique strategy that works for both of you, or use the Pomodoro Technique together to achieve your personal goals. 

It’s not necessary for both of you to work on the same task. Instead, you’ll feel more obligated to work during your focus time.

This way, you’ll not only be more concentrated on finishing your tasks during your focus time, but you’ll also have a buddy to share your experiences with during your breaks!

#5 Listen to the right sounds 

While there is a debate in the scientific community about whether music or background noise helps with concentration, you can try to experiment.

Create a few playlists with different types of music or background noise (e.g., white noise). Listen to them while focusing on a single task and see which one works best for you. 

However, there’s also a possibility that music or background noise is actually distracting you! You might want to try to work in silence and see if it helps. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment with this one.

#6 Turn off your phone

You don’t necessarily have to turn it off completely, but you can try using “Do Not Disturb” or “Focus” functions on your devices and apps.

If your phone is buzzing with notifications all the time, it adds to your distraction. 

Also, keep your phone away from your workspace if you don’t require it while working. Seeing your phone might raise the temptation to lose yourself in social media or news outlets.

Do that in your spare time, and limit distractions while trying to concentrate on the task.

#7 Have dedicated space for different activities

While remote work might have taught us that it’s entirely possible to work from your bed, that is not necessarily a good thing.

Differentiating where you work, study, engage in your hobbies, or do chores can help you set the mood for that specific activity. Your bed should be for sleeping, a desk – for working or studying, etc.

You might think that you don’t have that much space for all the things you want to focus on, but it’s enough to have a designated chair, a corner in a room, or a separate table that can help tremendously. 

Keeping your activities in separate spaces will train your brain that, once in a dedicated area, you’re focusing on a particular task only.

Before we drift away 

Maintaining your concentration is tricky and requires a lot of mental skills. But while the brain is not a muscle, it can be trained to benefit you.

The above-mentioned techniques are a part of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies that help you refocus and sustain that much-needed concentration.

Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t work out the first time – these are just the guidelines, but you have to make the actual change. Although, having tools, such as previously mentioned techniques or CBT-based apps like Sensa, can be highly beneficial.

Focus on believing in yourself, and you’ll get there!

Psychiatrist and Sensa consultant dr. Monisha Vasa

Dr. Monisha Vasa is a board-certified psychiatrist and wellness consultant with a thriving private practice in Newport Beach, California. She’s actively engaged in supporting physician mental health at UC Irvine and City of Hope National Cancer Center.