Seven simple tips to help you improve focus and enhance concentration

Top Tips to Boost Concentration and Focus

In a study by Kings College London, half those surveyed (49%) reported that their attention span is shorter than it used to be, with the highest number (58%) in the 18-34 age group.

In our fast-paced, distraction-filled world, maintaining concentration can be challenging. Whether you're studying, preparing for exams, tackling a work project, or simply trying to stay productive, if you feel you could be more productive, one or more of these seven simple tips might be just what you need to enhance your focus.

1. Try breathwork exercises for better concentration

Breathwork exercises are a simple way to improve focus and mental clarity. Of course we all breathe, but the changing the way we breathe can make a huge difference in improving focus and mental clarity. The 4-7-8 breathing method is particularly effective:

How to Do the 4-7-8 Breathing Method

  1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  2. Inhale quietly through your nose for 4 seconds.
  3. Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
  4. Exhale completely through your mouth for 8 seconds.
  5. Repeat this cycle three to four times.

This technique helps oxygenate your brain and reduce stress, which in turn will lead to enhanced concentration and focus. Practice it anywhere (no one will know!) and before you start a task that needs attention. Other breathwork techniques include Zen Breath Counting which calms the nervous system, useful if you're feeling overwhelmed and need to re-set your focus.

2. Use College Green Focus room spray

Aromatherapy can play a significant role in boosting levels of concentration. Essential oils such as lavender and chamomile are well known for their ability to help us relax, but others have properties that enhance memory and focus. The College Green Focus Room Spray contains a unique blend of essential oils that are celebrated for their memory and focus-enhancing properties, including rosemary, peppermint, lemon and frankincense.

How to Use the Focus Room Spray

  • Spray a light mist around your study or work area.
  • Inhale deeply to enjoy the refreshing scent.
  • Use it whenever you need an extra boost in concentration.

3. Create a Distraction-Free Workspace

A well-organized workspace can significantly enhance your ability to concentrate. Here are a few tips:

Tips for a Distraction-Free Workspace

  • Declutter: Keep only essential items on your desk that you need for your current task.
  • Limit Digital Distractions: Put your phone out of reach with airplane mode on so you won't hear notifications or receive calls, and use apps like StayFocusd or Freedom which block distracting websites from your computer.
  • Set Boundaries: Inform family or housemates of your study/work schedule to minimize interruptions. They can hold you to account and join in with a reward once you've kept to your plan.

4. Practice the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a proven time management method people that can enhance focus and productivity. It involves working for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. After four cycles, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. This approach helps maintain mental sharpness and prevent burnout. Set a kitchen timer or use a customisable website like the original Pomodoro Technique or  Pomofocus which have timers for set work and break times.

5. Stay Hydrated and Eat Brain-Boosting Foods

Even mild dehydration - as little as 2% fluid loss - can affect memory, mood, concentration and reaction time, according to the National Council on Aging. Proper hydration and nutrition are crucial for maintaining concentration, so make sure a supply of water is one of the essential items on your desk (see tip 3 above!) and drink regularly throughout the day. If you're not keen on plain water, try adding slices of lemon, lime or cucumber for a refreshing twist. Foods like berries and nuts are known to be particularly beneficial for brain health - add a bowl to the essential items to keep on your desk.

6. Take Regular Breaks and Move Around

Sitting for long periods can diminish your ability to focus. Incorporate regular breaks into your routine to stand up, stretch, or take a short walk, ideally outside to get the benefits of fresh air. Light exercise during breaks can boost your energy and refresh your mind by increasing the blood flow to your brain.

7. Listen to Focus-Enhancing Music

Studies show that listening to music can significantly improve concentration and productivity, and there is now a whole genre of music that's specifically designed for focus. 

Types of Focus Music to try:

  • Repetitive Rhythms and Steady Beats: Music with repetitive rhythms and steady beats can help synchronize brain waves, promoting a state of calm alertness. This type of music helps reduce the brain's tendency to wander, making it easier to concentrate on tasks.

  • Minimal Lyrics: Instrumental music or tracks with minimal lyrics are ideal for concentration. Lyrics can be distracting as the brain tends to process the words, which can interrupt focus.

  • Nature Sounds and Ambient Noise: Incorporating nature sounds, such as flowing water or rustling leaves, can create a soothing background that enhances concentration. Ambient noise with a consistent tone can also mask disruptive background sounds, helping maintain a steady focus.

  • Classical Music: Classical compositions, particularly those by Mozart and Beethoven, have been shown to improve cognitive function and concentration. This phenomenon, known as the "Mozart Effect," suggests that listening to classical music can boost brain activity and enhance learning.

Find a playlist that includes these types of music to  play quietly while you work or study. Experiment with different genres and sounds to discover what works best for you. Try BBC Focus which includes immersive piano for deep concentration, ambient music for deep concentration and productivity expert Ali Abdaal's instrumental tracks to help you focus and revise

Why not try integrating some of these tips into your daily routine to enhance your concentration and productivity?