Multitasking isn't working for me. Any tips on how to focus my attention and improve my concentration?

Answers from Amit Sood, M.D.

Many people find it hard to focus, but it is a skill you can develop. Try these suggestions for improving your focus:

  • Screen out distractions. Start by turning off the TV, putting down your phone and logging out of email. Not convinced it'll help? Try this experiment: Eliminate noncritical screen time for two days and see how much more you get done.
  • Plan for peaks and valleys. Are you a morning person? Then don't squander that time on email. Instead use it to tackle projects that require your full concentration. Low energy in the afternoon? That's the time to go through your inbox or catch up on your filing.
  • Put it out of your mind. Too many mental notes make for a cluttered mind. All that unfinished business saps your mental energy. So dump it. Put whatever's on your mind on paper or capture it digitally. Think of it as off-site storage.
  • Train your brain. Any skill worth having requires practice. Learning to focus is no different. Invest time in mastering attention training or meditation — both are great ways to practice taming distractions and improving focus.

What's the payoff? You'll not only get more done but also enjoy more flow — when you're so absorbed in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. Flow creates a sense of fulfillment and engagement and, yes, even contentment.

With

Amit Sood, M.D.

Mar. 21, 2012