From food supplements to two-minute exercises, there are plenty of ideas promising to help us concentrate better. While some work (for a while), most of them are just advertising gimmicks that leave us high and dry. The reason these solutions don't work is because we're only interested in increasing our concentration power without having any clue about (or addressing) the causal factors that rob us of our power to concentrate. How can we win the fight when we have no clue of who we are fighting? Here are three little rascals, commonly overseen, that we need to guard ourselves against to improve our concentration.
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An article on Scientific American elucidates how watching TV causes changes to our brain that ultimately affects our behaviour. According to the article, “Some of these brain differences could be benign: an increase in the visual cortex's volume is likely caused by exercising eyesight while watching TV. But thickening in the hypothalamus is characteristic of patients with borderline personality disorder, increased aggressiveness and mood disorders. Perhaps watching TV shows, with their high density of drama, action and comedy, engages circuits of arousal and emotion such that these areas, rather than circuits of intellect, strengthen. This change could lead to psychological and behavioral issues.”
We all know TV is bad. But do we know why? One of the reasons is that TV watching is a direct assault on our power to concentrate. No television programme is without an ad break. Just when your brain begins to focus on the content of the programme, the ad break interrupts to break your concentration. Prolonged exposure to TV ad breaks can severely affect your concentration power. A good book is far better than the idiot box. Reading also helps improve concentration.
Not having a to-do list
Exforsys Inc., an IT training and consulting website/company has written an excellent article on the importance of creating a to-do list and how it's one of the simplest, yet effective tools of time management. It says, “First, you will always want to make sure you complete the most important tasks. Complete the tasks which have the highest priority, and don’t place an emphasis on things that are not as important. It is also important to make sure you are never bogged down working on a bunch of tasks that are not crucial. Creating a To-Do list is very important if you a serious about properly managing your time.”
Every day is day is filled with tasks. Some are big and important. Some are small, boring, but necessary. To navigate through a day filled with nagging little chores, you need the help of a to-do list. Not having a defined plan for your day can seriously affect your concentration power.
According to Kristin O' Donovan, a Productivity Coach and Founder of TopResultsCoaching, “Procrastination is linked to stress and anxiety, and these in turn are linked to health issues. If your procrastination leads to feelings of depression, over time this depression will start to affect other areas of your life. Studies show us more and more how damaging stress and anxiety are for us, with stress being the silent killer.”
Time and tide wait for none. If you have gotten into the habit of putting things off to be done later that can very well be done now, you are willfully giving up your power to concentrate. The unfinished task will remain a splinter in your head, and will interfere and disturb you in every other thing that you do.
The power to concentrate can be improved with practice, patience, and discipline. With the right mix of physical exercise (jogging, meditation, practicing martial arts, etc.) and mental exercise (reading, painting, playing music, solving puzzles, etc.) you can build and maintain a high level of concentration power.