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Five Simple Steps to Improve Your Concentration

Whatever you do during the day, there are probably times when you need to concentrate. Perhaps you’ve got a project at work that requires focus (it could be anything from writing a report to carrying out some important lab tests). Or perhaps you’re studying – for a degree, for a vocational qualification, or just for your own enjoyment.

If you can’t concentrate, you’ll have problems:

Some people think they’re just not very good at focusing, but that’s simply not true. All of us can improve our ability to concentrate.

Here’s how, in five easy steps:

  • Step #1: Pay Attention to Physical Factors
    Your ability to concentrate is heavily affected by your physical state. I’m sure you’ve noticed that you struggle to stay focused when you’ve slept badly the night before – or after a heavy lunch.

Make sure your lifestyle is supporting, not hindering, your ability to concentrate. That means:


If you’ve got a long to-do list, it might be tempting to multi-task – but remember that you’ll almost certainly be more productive if you tackle your tasks one at a time.

It can take a while to break the multi-tasking habit. One trick I use is to mark each item on my to-do list with asterisks – one asterisk for “this is what I’m doing now”, two for the next task in line, and three for the one after that. This helps me to stay focused on a small section of my list rather than jumping around between lots of different items.

To improve your concentration, engage with whatever you’re doing. Don’t just passively sit there and watch a presentation, take notes. If you’re reading a document, have a pen or highlighter in your hand to mark key sections. You might even find it easiest to work with a partner, discussing short sections of a book or document as you read them.


And that’s it! Five straightforward steps that can hugely improve your concentration. Which of them will you try out today?

(And if you’ve got your own tips for steady focus, share them with us in the comments below.)

Written on 11/21/2011 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing. Photo Credit: xJason.Rogersx
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