Boosting your attention span

Amany Abdel-Moneim , Tuesday 6 Feb 2024

Our brains are adaptable by nature and can be rewired to stay focused. We can minimise multitasking and other distractions to create an environment that actively supports sustained attention and reshapes the way we focus.

Boosting your attention span

Focus and concentration are key capabilities to develop if you want to achieve your goals. Yet, in today’s fast-paced world, maintaining focus amidst a sea of distractions can be like exercising a superpower.

Both biological and societal factors can condition us to have shorter attention spans. Our ability to focus may begin to fade as we age. At the same time the frequent notifications, endless scrolling, and countless open browser tabs we see on our mobile phones and computers can impede our ability to concentrate.

Fortunately, our brains are adaptable by nature and can be rewired to stay focused. We can minimise multitasking and other distractions to create an environment that actively supports sustained attention and reshapes the way we focus.

In order to increase your concentration, it’s important to develop better productivity habits. Try incorporating these proven strategies into your routine to enhance your focus and productivity in the workplace.

Establish a distraction-free zone: Designate a specific area in your workspace where distractions are minimal. Ensure it is tidy, well-lit, and equipped with the essentials you need to work efficiently. This zone will serve as your sanctuary, shielding you from the allure of interruptions.

Leverage technology wisely: While technology can be a double-edged sword for focus, leveraging the right tools can significantly enhance productivity. Consider using apps that can help to minimise distractions and optimise concentration levels.


Break down tasks into smaller ones: Large or daunting tasks can overwhelm and derail focus. Break them down into smaller and more manageable chunks and tackle them one step at a time. Celebrating each milestone achieved can reinforce a sense of progress and momentum.


Focus on your priorities: Try making a detailed list of all the tasks you need to do and prioritise them by importance. This can help you stay focused on what’s important and make finishing that task feel much more satisfying when it happens.


Cultivate a peak-performance environment:

Tailor your environment to optimise focus and productivity. Experiment with factors such as lighting, temperature, and background noise to identify what works best for you. Additionally, consider incorporating elements of biophilic design, such as indoor plants, to enhance cognitive function and well-being.


Establish clear goals and deadlines: Set specific and achievable goals for each work session, accompanied by realistic deadlines. Clear objectives can provide a roadmap for your efforts, guiding your focus and increasing motivation.


Limit multi-tasking: Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking undermines productivity and dilutes focus. Embrace single-tasking instead by devoting your full attention to one task at a time. By immersing yourself completely in the present moment, you amplify productivity and quality of work.


Take regular breaks: It’s important to take regular breaks while working. This can help your brain relax and refocus, which will make it easier for you to concentrate when you go back to work. Breaks can be as short as five minutes or as long as half an hour. It’s up to you.


Switch tasks: Switching tasks can be helpful for improving concentration. If you feel like you’ve been stuck on the same task for a while and aren’t making any progress, try switching to something else entirely. Try to tick off another item on your list. This change of scenery can help you to come back to the original task with fresh eyes.


Practise memorisation: Enhancing your memory can help in improving concentration. When you remember things easily, your brain does not feel as scrambled, and you will have an easier time completing your present task.


Listen to the right music: Music can be a great method to boost concentration, but it’s vital to pick the proper kind of music. According to studies, listening to instrumental music, such as classical music or ambient music, might aid with attention and focus. But listening to music with lyrics might be more disruptive since the brain has to absorb both the lyrics and the activity at hand at the same time.


Prioritise self-care: Prioritise self-care practices that nourish your mind and body. Ensure you’re getting adequate sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, doing mindfulness meditation, and incorporating regular physical activity into your daily routine. A healthy lifestyle forms the foundation for sustained focus and productivity.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 8 February, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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