Oct 03

A simple guide to better focus and smarter concentration

6 Comments

Now and again we find ourselves struggling to focus. We cannot concentrate as our energy levels run low.

Sound familiar?

As a small business owner, it is imperative that you are able to concentrate during the workday. Coffee will only get you so far.

In order to enjoy better focus and smarter concentration, you need to get regular sleep, eat healthy foods, and most importantly, improve your cognitive processes!

Sleep:

As mentioned in my last post “Sleep and you’ll get more done”, sleep is an imperative part of your every day routine. With proper sleep, your brain is able to retain information you learned during the day. If you fail to sleep, recalling product names or due dates will prove much more difficult the following day. With a regular sleep schedule you will regulate your stress hormones, which means trying to focus won’t strain all of the energy you have left. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s rest!

Healthy Foods:

healthy foods

Healthy foods cannot be underestimated either. While sleep may be food for your brain, your body needs food too. In order to get that food you need to eat regularly… and don’t eat unhealthy processed foods. This might seem trivial, but it is not.

Fruit is an important source of vitamins and natural sugars, and eating a wide variety of fruit will be extremely beneficial to your health. Vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals, while the starchy ones will be the source of most the energy that your body needs. The starch, which is a carbohydrate, will be broken down into sugars, which the body uses for energy. With both the fruits and vegetables, you will obtain even more health benefits from them if you eat the skins, where they are edible. Many of the nutrients are found in or just underneath the skins, including the majority of the fiber, which is needed to maintain the health of the digestive system. Red meats, such as beef and lamb, also provide plenty of iron, which is needed to make hemoglobin, the protein that transports oxygen around the body in the red blood cells.

While you might get a craving every so often, it is important that you avoid sugar replacements, baked goods, pasta, cake, and other carbohydrate foods that have complex sugars in them. This is because they are high in simple carbs. Simple carbs are smaller and are digested quickly. Then they get stored in your cells and if you don’t use them immediately, they are converted into fat. They also raise your blood glucose levels which make you feel tired. They are empty calories that are low in fiber and nutrients. These items have been scientifically linked as the root of degenerative diseases. That being said avoiding such foods and only consuming what your ancestors did is the best way to remain balanced and healthy and full of energy.

Cognitive Processes:

Source: Flickr.com

Source: Flickr.com

Scientists were once under the impression that your mental ability remained fixed once you reached adulthood. However, over the last decade neuroscientists have discovered that our brains are constantly changing. We grow new connections and new neurons throughout our entire lives. This process is called neuroplasticity. By taking advantage of this innate neuroplasticity, you can shape your mind into a more effective organ and enjoy better focus and smarter concentration. The human brain has more than one hundred and sixty trillion synapses, or connections between neurons in the cortex. You can improve them with regular cognitive exercises.

There are cognitive processes which underlie your performance in a multitude of areas. The most important of these processes include memory and attention, which are critical for real world applications. By targeting these core processes, you can improve your overall brain performance.

Many people think that doing crosswords on Sunday morning will sharpen their concentration and focus, but this is a very poor substitute for regular cognitive training. By using scientifically designed programs, you can reshape your neural connections by exposing your brain to new experiences that are challenging. In order for your brain to get a proper challenge adequate enough to reshape your neural connections, you need to participate in effective cognitive exercises which are novel and adaptive.

Your brain’s response properties can be shaped with effective learning processes that increase in intensity and adaptation. In other words: you can force your brain to operate in new ways by having to stimulate the neurons to remodel itself in order to tackle new exercises and tasks. You can exercise your brain the same way you exercise your muscles.

With exercises that target spatial recall, you can improve your memory of locations and objects, while simultaneously improving your recall of visual patterns and your sense of a three-dimensional environment. With exercises that target task switching you can improve your cognitive control, your ability to shift your attention and focus, and your multitasking. This helps you to respond better to shifting priorities at work. Exercises which target information processing can be used to help you think faster, enjoy a faster reaction time, and increase your cognitive processes. Some examples of these exercises include language exercises, word finding for tip-of-the-tongue syndrome, and thinking outside of the box. Exercises which focus on attention can increase your work productivity while improving your ability to avoid distractions. You can also improve your concentration.

There are third party websites that can really help you improve cognitive training such as Lumosity.com. This is the most reputable source and for a reasonable membership fee you can reap a multitude of cognitive benefits that only improve over time. Cognitive training can reap long term benefits up to five years following the initial training.

Bonus:

Research indicates that happiness will promote better memory and enhanced brain functioning. Bottom line? Don’t worry, be happy! It will do wonders for your ability to enhance cognitive processes and enjoy better focus and smarter concentration.

  • Carol Soares

    How ironic that you would be talking about focus today. In my community I created “Focus Fridays” http://magnificentminded.com/focus/ and I host a call each week supporting people to improve their capacity to focus. So what do I do to become highly focused on a daily basis? I nourish what I refer to as the 6 food centers of the mind, stay connected to my “why”, use visualization, map out processes, and take time to replenish – to name just a few. Great post. I agree that the ability to be focused is essential to success.

  • Carol Soares

    How ironic that you would be talking about focus today. In my community I created “Focus Fridays” http://magnificentminded.com/focus/ and I host a call each week supporting people to improve their capacity to focus. So what do I do to become highly focused on a daily basis? I nourish what I refer to as the 6 food centers of the mind, stay connected to my “why”, use visualization, map out processes, and take time to replenish – to name just a few. Great post. I agree that the ability to be focused is essential to success.

  • Keith Holleyman

    Thanks Kavit, another useful, lucid and compelling piece for the most part, however there are downsides to a diet with a lot of red meat. It’s a modern phenomena that western societies have adopted and although one of the characteristics is to give a source of iron I’d say there are plenty of leafy green vegetables that do as well, spinach, chard and broccoli are examples. Red meat is difficult to digest and the nurturing of animals to produce it comes at a high cost to the planet. Nothing wrong with a little red meat now and again but it’s certainly not necessary for a healthy body or mind to eat it more than a couple of times a week.
    Couldn’t agree more that getting enough sleep is essential for focus and attentiveness and part of that important process should be to find a naturally filled mattress, why sleep on foam or springs i.e. chemicals or metal when there’s alternatives such as wool, latex, coir, cotton and much more.

  • Keith Holleyman

    Thanks Kavit, another useful, lucid and compelling piece for the most part, however there are downsides to a diet with a lot of red meat. It’s a modern phenomena that western societies have adopted and although one of the characteristics is to give a source of iron I’d say there are plenty of leafy green vegetables that do as well, spinach, chard and broccoli are examples. Red meat is difficult to digest and the nurturing of animals to produce it comes at a high cost to the planet. Nothing wrong with a little red meat now and again but it’s certainly not necessary for a healthy body or mind to eat it more than a couple of times a week.
    Couldn’t agree more that getting enough sleep is essential for focus and attentiveness and part of that important process should be to find a naturally filled mattress, why sleep on foam or springs i.e. chemicals or metal when there’s alternatives such as wool, latex, coir, cotton and much more.

  • ioan pongrat

    Yes, very interesting, educational beneficial for everyone , thank you very much Kavit Haria

  • ioan pongrat

    Yes, very interesting, educational beneficial for everyone , thank you very much Kavit Haria