When TV newscaster Diane Sawyer was asked the secret to her success, she said, “I think the one lesson I’ve learned is there is no substitute for paying attention.”
Did you know improving your focus can be done with different types of simple exercises? It’s true. Something as simple as getting exercise on a daily basis or chewing gum can improve your brain function, which leads to better focus. Most of the time, focus exercises take less than ten minutes to do.
As writers, we definitely need to improve our focus. We all know how easy it is to get distracted, even when we desperately want to work on a story.
Check out these to get started:
- Mutter to yourself. It might seem like you’re crazy but talking to yourself either out loud or not, helps you pay attention, calms you emotionally and tells you to act.
- (Check out the 8 ways to make your brain smarter at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/28/how-to-focus_n_3795523.html)
- Trade your caffeine for cardio. Caffeine gives you a boost, which makes it easier to concentrate. But you might find it harder to focus when you’re not buzzed. A better way to keep your mind stimulated is with physical exercise. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain that affect our learning and memory, which in the end are what help us focus.
- Drink more water. Mild dehydration can lead to distraction. Being even as little as 2 percent dehydrated can affect your ability to concentrate on cognitive activities.
- Get plenty of sleep. Getting at least seven hours of good quality sleep each night helps your body and mind rejuvenate and leads to better concentration and focus during the day.
Here are some Concentration exercises taken from the Success Consciousness website. (http://www.successconsciousness.com/index_000004.htm)
Count the words in any paragraph from a book. Count them again. Repeat until it’s easy.
Now count the words in two paragraphs. Repeat until it becomes easy.
Finally count all the words on the page. Count mentally and with your eyes only. Don’t use your finger to point to each word.
Count from one hundred backwards to one.
Count backwards from one hundred, by threes, for example 100, 97, 94 and so on.
Pick an inspiring word or simple sound. Repeat it silently for five minutes. When this becomes easy, try doing it for ten minutes continually.
Hold a piece of fruit in your hands. Examine it, keeping your entire attention focused on the fruit. Just focus on the fruit, ignoring other thoughts. Examine its shape, the smell of it, how it’s texture when you touch it and how it taste.
Visualize a piece of fruit. First examine a piece of fruit for 2 minutes. Then close your eyes and visualize how it feels, looks and smells. Try to visualize a clear image. If the image gets blurry, look at the fruit again for a few seconds then close your eyes and try to visualize it again.
It’s never been harder to stay focused than at this time in history. We are distracted by technology and everything happening around us. You can regain focus though by doing different exercises that can help you build your concentration.
Extra Tip: Using writing prompts may help you gain some focus, too. Plus it could be fun and also boost your creativity at the same time. 😉
This is a 6-part series which includes these articles. (Note: live articles will have a link.)
Part 5: Exercises to Improve Focus & Productivity (You’re here.)