8 Simple Ways to Improve Your Concentration

7 min read

Education & Career Trends: February 28
Curated by the Knowledge Team of  ICS Career GPS

Being unable to concentrate can lead to stress and irritation.

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If you have ever found it difficult to get through a challenging task at work, studied for an important exam, or spent time on a finicky project, you might have wished you could increase your ability to concentrate. Concentration refers to the mental effort you direct toward whatever you’re working on or learning at the moment.

It’s sometimes confused with attention span, but attention span refers to the length of time you can concentrate on something.

Factors that affect concentration:

Both, our attention span and concentration, can vary for a number of reasons. Some people just have a harder time tuning out distractions.

Age and lack of sleep are major factors that affect our ability to concentrate.

It’s easy to become frustrated when you’re trying to concentrate but are not able to do so. This can lead to stress and irritation, which tends to make focusing on what you need to do even more of a distant dream.

Conditions that affect concentration:

Trouble in concentrating can relate to things going on around you. Common causes include interruptions from co-workers, distractions from your roommates or family members, and social media notifications.

But it is also possible for concentration difficulties to relate to underlying mental or physical health conditions. Some common ones include:

  • ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) can create learning and memory challenges for both children and adults. It is usually characterised by a persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Treatment can help improve ADHD symptoms.
  • Cognitive dysfunction or impairment can affect concentration, memory, and learning. These issues can include developmental delays or disabilities, brain injuries, or neurological conditions that cause problems with brain function.
  • Untreated mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety primarily involve changes in mood and other emotional symptoms. But, they can also make it hard to focus, concentrate, or learn and remember new information.
  • Concussions and other head injuries can affect concentration and memory. This is usually temporary, but difficulties with concentration can linger while a concussion heals.
  • Farsightedness and other vision problems can cause problems with attention and concentration. If you find it harder than usual to concentrate and also have headaches or find yourself squinting, you may want to get your eyes checked.
  • Distractions such as social media, phone calls, and a busy environment can affect your focus. If you want to concentrate, try switching off electronic devices and find a tidy space with minimal noise and crowding.
  • Insufficient sleep can make it hard to concentrate. Practise good sleep hygiene, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, when possible, and leaving electronic devices outside the room.

Here are some research-backed ways you can adopt to help increase your concentration.

1. Train your brain

Playing certain types of games can help you get better at concentrating. Such games include:

  • sudoku
  • crossword puzzles
  • chess
  • jigsaw puzzles
  • word searches or scrambles
  • memory games

A 2015 study suggests that spending 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week, on brain training activities can improve concentration.

Brain training games can also help develop your working and short-term memory, as well as your processing and problem-solving skills.

2. Improve sleep
  • Sleep deprivation can easily disrupt concentration, not to mention other cognitive functions, such as memory and attention.
  • Occasional sleep deprivation may not cause too many problems for you.
  • But regularly failing to get a good night’s sleep can affect your mood and performance at work.
  • Being too tired can even slow down your reflexes and affect your ability to drive or do other daily tasks.

Here are some tips for improving your quality of sleep:

  • Turn off your devices and put away screens at least an hour before bed.
  • Keep your room at a comfortable but cool temperature.
  • Wind down before bed with soft music, a warm bath, or a good book.
  • Go to bed and get up around the same time each day, even on weekends.
  • Exercise regularly, but try to avoid a heavy workout just before bed.
3. Make time for exercise
  • Increased concentration is among the many benefits of regular exercise.
  • Exercise benefits everyone.
  • A study looking at 116 fifth-graders found evidence to suggest daily physical activity could help improve both concentration and attention after just 4 weeks.
  • Another research looking at older adults suggests a year of moderate aerobic physical activity can help stop or even reverse memory loss that occurs with brain atrophy related to age.
4. Spend time in nature
  • If you want to boost your concentration naturally, try to get outside every day, even for a short while.
  • You might take a short walk through a park. Sitting in your garden or backyard can also help.
  • Any natural environment has proven benefits.
  • According to the American Psychological Association (APA), spending time in nature can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health.
  • Researched evidence suggests including plants in office spaces helped increase concentration and productivity, as well as workplace satisfaction and air quality.
5. Give meditation a try
  1. Meditation and mindfulness practices can offer multiple benefits.
  2. Improved concentration is only one of these.
  3. Mindfulness can also improve memory and other cognitive abilities.
  4. Meditation does not simply mean sitting silently with your eyes closed. Techniques like yoga, deep breathing, and many other activities can help you meditate.
6. Take a break
  • How can taking a break from work or homework increase your concentration? This idea might seem counterintuitive, but experts say it works.
  • Consider this scenario: You have spent a few hours on the same project, and suddenly your attention starts to wander. Even though it’s hard to keep your mind on the task, you stay at your desk, forcing yourself to keep going. But your struggle to focus just makes you feel stressed and anxious about not completing your work in time.
  • In such cases, when you first feel your concentration drop, take a short mental break.
  • Refresh yourself with a cool drink or nutritious snack, take a quick walk, or go outside and get some sun.
  • Doing so helps you feel more focused, motivated, or even creative.
7. Avoid multitasking
  • Multitasking seems like a good way to get a lot done, but some scientists have questioned this. 
  • Studies have suggested that we are not as good at multitasking as we like to think we are.
  • For one thing, the brain is not designed to cope with doing two or more things at once.
  • What we are actually doing is switching from one task to another.
  • As a result, we can’t give our full attention to any of those tasks.
  • If you have the chance to tackle one thing at a time, you might find you can concentrate better on each of them.
8. Set a timer
  • Blocking off time for specific tasks can help you focus on one thing at a time and lower the risk of environmental distractions.
  • Setting time limits can also help you channel your energy toward the task in hand because you know the time you can or need to spend on it is limited.


When you make your to-do list, book a slot on your calendar in which to do it, and stick to it.

Ways in which timeboxing can help you:

  • Make sure you complete tasks.
  • Signal to others when a meeting time is convenient for you.
  • Separate work from home life.

Using a timer

  • The Marinara Timer, for example, encourages a person to work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break.
  • After four blocks of 25 minutes, the person will take a 15-minute break.
  • This way, you can focus fully on a task for the allotted time and do something else in the breaks.

Time-control apps

  • These allow you to set a goal to not use your phone.
  • “Forest,” for example, grows a virtual tree in your set time, encouraging you not to use the device until the tree has grown.
  • Other apps allow you to set goals for specific sites each day, such as the news or social media.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet

3 Takeaways From the Latest Emotional Intelligence Study

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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