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How to Increase Concentration – The 5 Key Steps

Do you usually find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand?

Do you find your mind invariably straying to some happy moment in the past, a pleasant song you’ve recently heard, or a movie you’ve seen, or a book you’ve read etc.?

Most of us do, so don’t worry.

For most people, concentration doesn’t come naturally. (That includes me.)

That’s why today I’ve decided to share a few tips and tricks with you to make this age old art of concentration easy for you.

1. Remove the clutter

Put away all those papers that are now lying in a jumble on your desk.

When you look at your desk and find it in a complete mess, this sends a negative signal to your mind-obviously a cluttered desk is not a welcoming view.

But as soon as you’ve managed to get it uncluttered and tidy again, you’ll find the view itself provides you with some amount of positive boost-it’s like your desks telling you, “It’s time to work.”, and is calling you by giving you that clean look!

2. Keep disturbances out

This includes locking the door of your room if possible, switching off the cell phone, and taking measures to prevent any other disturbance that you might foresee.

Now many people have told me, they’re just too busy to keep their cell phones off while trying to concentrate.

If this is the case with you, keep your phone on silent mode. This will make sure you later know who called, so that you can call them back.

3. Keep distractions out

You’ve already made sure that others won’t disturb you. But what about yourself? Keep out distractions as much as possible to prevent your own mind from straying.

This could include turning off the computer (gasp? Read on.), so that you’re not able to surf the web, turning off the television, the radio, the music system etc.

Now what if you’re working at the computer? Then you’ll have to exert some control over yourself. Don’t worry; I’ve made that easy. See the next point.

4. Use the ‘5-minute strategy’

This is a strategy you can use to get rid of virtually any bad habit. In relation to concentration, you can use this to stop yourself from surfing the web, chatting, leaving your work to watch TV, calling a friend and other similar distractions.

Whenever you feel the urge to, say, surf the web, tell yourself, “I’ll surf the web in 5 minutes.” Not surfing the web for the entire period while you’re working at the computer is difficult. But 5 minutes is easy, isn’t it?

Now after 5 minutes, chances are you’ll forget about the urge you felt. Even if you haven’t, all you have to do is to tell yourself not to give in to your urge for just 5 more minutes.

I think you’ve got it. You have to repeat this process till the urge goes away, which usually happens after just one 5 minute period, and two at most.

Now you can use this same strategy to make yourself do your work.

If you think you’re going to have to work for an hour, it will feel overwhelming. So again, tell yourself, “For the next 5 minutes I’m going to do ___ (your task).”

This will work exactly like before. And after two or three (It’s a little more in this case) such periods, your concentration will come naturally.

5. Take a break

Yes, finally-the fun part.

Our concentration wears off after every 1 to 2 hours. So rather than trying hard to pull back your concentration when you feel it slipping, take a break every once in a while. A good rule of thumb is 5 minutes after working for an hour, or 10 minutes after 2 hours, whichever suits you.

During these periods our mind rejuvenates itself. So when you go back to work after any such break, it becomes a lot easier for you to concentrate.

So next time you find it difficult to concentrate, try these simple techniques. I’ve used them, so I know they produce results.

Written on 1/21/2013 by Sulagna Dasgupta. Sulagna Dasgupta is a relationships and personal development expert. Her personal blog, is India’s first dedicated relationships & marriage blog – with the mission to facilitate more open thinking about this topic in India in the long run. Over the last five years she has also been sharing her lessons from life in her personal development blog here: Photo Credit:
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