If attention is a limited resource – what can we do to increase our ability to FOCUS?
The human body sends 11 million bits of information per second to the brain for processing, and the conscious mind can only process about 40 bits per second.
Imagine what would happen to us if we were consciously aware of 11 million bits of information per second. We would go into meltdown.
Fortunately, most of the body’s activities are outside direct conscious control, so practice and habit formation is essential. They train circuits in the brain to carry out some action automatically outside of conscious awareness.
Tips to increase our ability to focus:
STOP multitasking – Juggling multiple activities not only divides your attention among the tasks — but you also pay a cognitive ‘penalty’ to manage the switching that depletes your energy. This results in more errors and makes things take longer than they would have if you had done them separately.
Add exercise – Strengthen your body, and strengthen your brain. Cognitive control is measurably better after just a single exercise session. Oxygen is essential in fuelling the brain; it is a core ingredient.
Meditate – Focus on your breath and when your mind wanders, return your attention to your breath. This is attention training in practice.
Reduce distractions – both internal and external – You can improve your ability to focus by changing your brain or changing your behaviour. And the best way to modify your behaviour is to make sure that anything which might distract you is far away.
Make your environment as boring as possible when trying to focus. Research shows that even having a mobile phone in the room can be distracting. You could do a distraction audit to see how frequently you are interrupted and how often – you may be surprised.
Listen to music – It can help you to get into your zone. Neuroscience research recommends bio-neural beats 40hz is ideal for focus/ brain power and concentration (Gamma brain waves). I have a Spotify playlist of different music I play at other times depending on the frame of mind, i.e. needing more energy or soft relaxing music with no words.
In addition to my tips above, American Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman recommends:
- quality sleep
- the Chinese technique of focusing on an object
- keeping your computer screen at or above eye level
- wearing a hoodie to narrow your vision for laser focus.
What is your level of focus like? Does it need improving?