8 Tips to Increase Concentration to Avoid Mistakes

meditate

For some people, paying attention is the equivalent to getting your face curb-stomped. However, having an undefeatable concentration and power of focus… gives you a certain “edge” over most people. People who do not improve themselves, are often the people who are left behind in life.

Let’s talk about several ways you can ensure you aren’t being left behind, and are in fact winning the race.

1. Strengthen Focus

Everybody in the world knows exercise is good for you. There is not one person who can say “Exercise isn’t healthy” and have the research to back it up. It is a plain-and-simple fact that regularly working out improves your physical health and mental health. When you exercise your body, you exercise your mind.

The University of Illinois examined 221 children during a nine-month study. At the beginning, they took cognitive testing. Half of those 221 children were assigned to perform daily exercise. During the study, they exercised for a bit over an hour each day. In nine months’ time, the 221 kids retook the cognitive tests and they were able to pay attention longer, avoid distractions easier, and switch between cognitive tasks more effectively.

Luckily, there are ways of exercising your attention-keeping abilities, as well, which will no doubt improve your game. It can be as easy as working in only one task for 5 minutes, then resting for 2 minutes, then resume that task for an additional 5 minutes, then taking another 2-minute break. This is called “The Pomodoro Technique”. I personally use 25-minute periods, followed by 5-minute breaks.

For those 5/25-minute periods, you are not allowed to do anything else. This “mind workout” specifically puts your focus through the ringer so it can improve. Doing anything else during those periods hurts you, in the end.

2. Stop Multitasking

Multi-tasking is the art of performing several tasks at one time (hence the name). While impressive (take a work-from-home mother who’s balancing her check books while feeding her children), you should be aware of the thousands of tiny, micro-sized mistakes that can pop up at any second.

Think back to when you were in college or high school. You were studying, and your room-mate/friend/sibling was in the room gaming or watching Netflix with the TV blasting. Were you able to effectively study? Multi-tasking is genuinely not effective, and definitely does not help concentration.

3. Practice Serenity

When you’re stressed out, your mind crashes and your thoughts scatter. Like a nuke that just exploded and debris flies everywhere. This is why actively calming your mind down is a powerful tool to be reckoned with. When you are calm, your focus is sharp as a razor, and you’re less likely to make costly rookie mistakes.

4. Improve Your Awareness

Maybe you’ve heard of situational awareness, maybe you haven’t. In either case, there is no downside to being more aware of your surroundings – in any environment. From the table, to what you’re doing, to what and how you’re eating; situational awareness (also called “environmental mindfulness”) puts you in the driver’s seat of your experiences, as well as teaches you how not to make giant screw-ups. (Some motivational speakers call this “waking up” and it is definitely cool.)

5. Meditate, Often

Meditation is one of the most powerful techniques of improving your concentration. Meditation doesn’t have to be long, either – I personally enjoy 5-7 minutes of meditation each morning. These sessions are calming, relaxing, and help me “zero in” on the task that needs to be done that day. Meditation is a powerful tool in the “eliminate distraction” toolbox.

Sadly, a big problem many people face with meditation is… not knowing how to meditate. Happily, the solution is easy: meditate on your natural breath – how it goes out and how it comes in. By focusing on your breath, and truly feeling your lungs expand and collapse, you’re building your concentration levels and fading your thoughts.

A lot of people bring it to the next level by using essential oils and a diffuser. Lavender is an insanely popular fragrance that has proved to lower stress, reduce anxiety and calm you down in a jiffy.

6. Control Thoughts

One of the most important methods of not making mistakes is to control your thoughts. And bar-none, the quickest (and most effective) way of doing that is self-discipline. When you force yourself to do something, repeatedly, until it is ingrained in your mind, is a skill that can’t be taught. It must be learned.

Today, we live in a world of sedentary lazy butts who’d rather put half the effort to most things. Then wonder why they aren’t receiving the progress they wanted. (Which, let’s be honest, they fooled themselves into thinking they deserved.)

When you don’t control your thoughts, you don’t control your actions. Not controlling your actions means you aren’t in control of yourself. And when you aren’t in control of yourself… you’re more likely to embarrass yourself. You can start training by doing unconscious mind programming exercises.

P.S. Think about Bruce Lee. Do you think he slacked off in his training? Dude was one of the most self-disciplined masters in the world. Be like Bruce Lee.

7. Don’t Procrastinate

Procrastination is something most of us do on a daily basis. And sadly (or happily, depending on how you look at the glass) is one of the few things that doesn’t come with “quick hacks.” The best way to get over procrastination, thereby improving your ability to get things done, is to force yourself to do what you don’t want to.

Procrastination is a choice – and I know you may argue with me on this. Don’t; you’ll lose, because I’m stubborn. When we know we have to do something – and actively make excuses for postponing that task… that is a choice. When we have to practice our game, and we watch TV instead… we’re choosing to watch a screen instead of practicing.

The next time you feel like choosing something over what you have to do, do this:

  • Write 1) on a piece of paper, and write 2) below it
  • Write down what you have to do next to 1)
  • Write down what you want to do next to 2)
  • Ask yourself “Will 1) be easier after I do 2)?”

If you answered no, then do what you have to do.

8. Understand Information

Comprehension is a valuable skill – it makes learning difficult, complex (and new) concepts, ideas and insights easier. Fortunately, the skill of comprehension—by its very nature—forces you to concentrate; building your focus skills along the way.

So, the next time you come across material that you can’t make heads or tails of, try this exercise:

  • Summarise the material to the best of your abilities, in your own words
  • Restructure the material so it makes even more sense to you
  • Memorize the material (which is now in your words)

Last Thoughts

When we know how to use our minds, and are actively able to “manipulate” our thoughts at will… people who are able to do that become the envy of town. Because there are a lot of undisciplined, unmotivated people in the world. Those people, until they make the choice to improve their concentration (which is difficult – but isn’t hard), they will forever be deer caught in headlights; don’t be one of them.

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