Multitasking isn't working for me. How can I focus my attention and improve my concentration?
Answer From Amit Sood, M.D.
It isn't surprising that multitasking isn't working for you. In reality, multitasking is a myth. At best, research shows that your mind can only switch rapidly between tasks. Instead of trying to do two things at once, look for ways to maintain focus on the task at hand. Many people find it hard to focus, but it is a skill you can develop. To improve your focus:
- Reduce distractions. Turn off the TV, put down your phone and log out of your email account. Not convinced it'll help? 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. Save the afternoon for going through your inbox or catching up on your filing.
- Put it out of your mind. Too many mental notes make for a cluttered mind. All of that unfinished business can sap your mental energy. 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, mindfulness or other types of meditation. These are great ways to practice taming distractions and improving focus.
By sharpening your focus, 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 can create a sense of fulfillment, engagement and even contentment.
March 12, 2020
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